Although Pakistan is a relatively small contributor to global warming (approximately 0.8% of global C02 emissions), it is reported to be one of the world’s 10 most ‘at risk’ countries to climate change. Despite this fact, Pakistani scientists report that the government is not taking the threat seriously and has rejected assistance from foreign powers to tackle the problem.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, several of Pakistan’s top climate change scientists complained about the meager funding allocation for the climate change ministry and how it is not enough to address the challenges posed by global warming.
A climate change policy was actually approved by the federal cabinet in March this year, but changes are currently being made to it. It will be presented to the cabinet again in the coming week. A task force on climate change was also set up in 2008 consisting of 40 scientists with nine experts committees, however the lack of resources and capacity building are the key hurdles facing the implementation of any potential policy.
Dr Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry, who is a key author of the National Climate Change Policy, has pointed to Bangladesh as an example of a country that has suffered climate change damage and accepted international assistance; an opportunity Pakistan not taken advantage of. Over the past 12 months, Bangladesh has received $500 million for climate change from different international agencies.
“Despite the policy, there is no headway as far as practical steps are concerned. We need huge interventions to mitigate the impact of climate change by taking pre-emptive measures,” Dr Chaudhry noted, suggesting the use of appropriate project designs including agriculture, energy, water and forestry to avail funding opportunities from international donors. Potential disasters facing the country include a water crisis due to insufficient monsoon rains and the waste of available water resources.
“The country has no water conservation system and between 30 and 40 per cent of irrigation water is wasted due to the dilapidated state of the irrigation system and carelessness of consumers,” he said.
Climate Change Ministry of Environment Director General Jawed Ali Khan has also voiced his concern, saying “Many climatic changes are the outcomes of human induced action (HIA) and could be minimized by changing human behaviur,” he said.