Strategic planning needed to tackle climate change implications: Sharmila

KARACHI: Special Assistant to Chief Minister Sindh, Sharmila Faruqui said on Sunday that a long-term strategic planning is needed to tackle climate change implications on Pakistan as the country is extremely vulnerable to those impacts because of its geographical location, high population and low technological and resource base.

“The projected impacts of climate change include threat to its water security, food security and energy security. It is high time to take stock of country’s situation in relation to climate change to visualize measures for achieving sustained economic growth. Experts estimates that environmental degradation may cost Pakistan’s economy over Rs 365 billion every year of which inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene accounts for Rs.112 billion, agricultural soil degradation Rs.70 billion, indoor pollution Rs 67 billion, urban air pollution Rs 65 billion, lead exposure Rs.45 billion and land degradation and deforestation Rs 6 billion,” she said in a statement.

Sharmila said climate change poses a great threat to gains made in poverty reduction and development. She said: “While climate change is a global phenomenon, its impacts is felt more severely by the developing world due to their greater vulnerabilities and lesser capacity to manage the effects of climate change, and similarly, within society, by marginal and vulnerable groups including women and children. Pakistan’s emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are much lower than rest of the world. “

She said environmental degradation along with poor home hygiene, lack of basic sanitation and unsafe drinking water has a huge impact on health of the population, particularly children under five.

Sharmila said climate change will increase the variability of monsoon rains and enhance the frequency and severity of extreme events such as floods and droughts. “The back to back floods of 2010, 2011 and 2013, worst drought during 1999-2003, two cyclones in one month in Karachi/Gwadar coasts in 2008 and increased incidences of landslides, GLOFS (Glacial Lake Outburst Floods) in the northern areas of Pakistan bear testimony to the ugly face of climate change. It is projected that greater precipitation and melting of glaciers would increase waters in our rivers as much as 20 percent initially, suggesting the benefit of increasing capacity for water storage,” she said.

She said Pakistan is among those countries which would be hit hardest by climate change in the future despite it contributes very low to global warming. Climate change is not only economic and developmental problem but also environmental, hence there is need to make hectic efforts by government, private and environment organizations to mitigate climate change, Sharmila noted.

Sharmila said: “As per a report, prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics and peer reviewed by 25 scientists worldwide, the consequences for South Asia of a warming climate are even worse if global temperatures increased by an average of 4°C by 2090. In this scenario, seen as likely unless action is taken now to limit carbon release in the atmosphere, South Asia would suffer more extreme droughts and floods, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and declines in food production. In India, for example, an extreme wet monsoon that currently has a chance of occurring only once in 100 years is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of the century. Events like the devastating Pakistan floods of 2010, which affected more than 20 million people, could become common place.”

“South Asia would be very affected by a warming climate. In a 2°C rise world, the region would see changes in rainfall patterns: some areas would be getting much more rain than they are today and others would be getting droughts. In a 4°C rise world the impact would be even higher: the monsoon patterns that are central to South Asia and have implications in the whole region in many different ways, would change. A hugely disruptive monsoon that happened every 100 years would happen every decade.”

She said: “The climate change is affecting women and children more than men in Pakistan. The climate change in 1999 and 2000 indicated the vulnerability of the women when thousands of poor families had to flee from drought-hit areas of Balochistan where women and children were most hit.”

She said climate change was also reducing women’s livelihood resources across the country, particularly in Sindh. “Due to climate change implications, sowing of cotton crop and forest cover have decreased to a larger level in Sindh province, causing heavy loss to the income of women who used to generate it from picking up cotton crop and selling milk and butter received from cattle depending mostly on forests. Women working in crop fields were hit by skin, respiratory and other infectious diseases,” Sharmila concluded.

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