Politics: (Sherry Rehman calls for bringing Pakistan’s climate change policy into action)

ISLAMABAD: During a session of the upper house of the parliament, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman submitted an adjournment motion for bringing the country’s National Climate Change Policy into action.

“Pakistan has repeatedly faced some of the most devastating natural disasters, and yet the government continues to ignore the threat that the country faces from climate change,” Sherry Rehman noted in a press statement issued here on Wednesday.

She added that despite an increase in the number of casualties and repeated weather warnings, the government has failed to bring into action the National Climate Change Policy, placed before the cabinet in February 2013.

“Hundreds have already died this year due to floods in different parts of the country, with Chitral being one of the worst flood affected areas,” said the senator.

She observed that according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), at least 109 people have already been killed and 46 others injured due to incessant monsoon flooding this year alone. “The NDMA has also issued a fresh glacial lake overflow flood (GLOF) warning,” she noted.

Sherry Rehman stressed that climate change effects have manifested in multiple ways, from severe heat waves that led to unprecedented deaths in Karachi to incremental flooding in different parts of the country.

“While climate change induced crises have become a norm, the National Climate Change policy put together by the PPP government in early 2013 remains buried in government archives,” she said.

The senator warned that climate change has turned into one of the biggest national security issues and failure to acknowledge its impacts today will pose serious challenges for Pakistan in the near future. “Pakistan’s economy is highly vulnerable to climate change effects – one of the reasons why climate change has been identified as the biggest security threat in recent times,” she added.

Estimates from the World Bank reveal that Pakistan has suffered losses in excess of $18bn because of natural disasters over the last one decade. Data from the NDMA shows that more than 2.5m people were affected due to last year’s deluge in the Chenab and Sutlej rivers, with over 350 casualties and destruction of over 1m acres of crops.

According to the World Resources Institute, Pakistan ranks 5th in the list of top 15 countries that account for 80 percent of the population exposed to river-flood risk worldwide. While Pakistan’s economy has seen negligible growth over the last many years, WRI estimates indicate that nearly 1 percent of the GDP losses are attributable to floods every year. Additionally, studies indicate that on average, up to 1.6 percent of the country’s population is affected by natural catastrophes every year.

Sherry Rehman also expressed concern over Pakistan’s preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this year. She added that both India and Bangladesh have strong statements ready for the climate change moot in December while Pakistan has seen none.

“As a developing country with less than 1 percent global green-house gas emissions, Pakistan is at the receiving end of intense climatic calamities. For a country that now ranks 3rd among the 10 most vulnerable countries to climate change, it is not incorrect to say that Pakistan is a victim of climate injustice,” she said.

“With losses as high as $6 billion attributable to climate related events, Pakistan stands its right for a higher share in global resource and funds pledged towards mitigating the impacts of climate change and adopting resilient mechanisms to cope with them,” Sherry Rehman stressed.