The average temperatures in Pakistan have gone up by 0.6 Celsius over the past 100 years. The increase in northern Pakistan was slightly higher at 0.8 Celsius versus 0.5 Celsius in the south.
While seemingly less, the rise in temperatures means Pakistan faces rapid recession of glaciers in the coming years that will greatly increase the water inflow into the Indus River system.
This will reduce the natural reservoirs’ capacity to hold water and increase the risk of floods and droughts, said Minister for Environment Samina Khalid Ghurki during a question hour session in the lower house of the parliament on Thursday.
The siltation in major dams will increase, giving way to severe water-stressed and heat-stressed conditions that in turn will reduce agriculture productivity and power generation.
Increased upstream intrusion of saline water will adversely affect coastal agriculture, mangroves and breeding grounds of fish. A rise in the sea level and cyclonic activity due to increased sea surface temperature poses a threat to low-lying areas, said the minister.
Responding to a question, Ghurki said that there was no globally accepted report on the categorisation of the most vulnerable countries. Studies based on several Global Circulation Models project that average temperatures in Pakistan will increase by 1.3-1.5 C by 2020s, 2.5-2.8 C by 2050s, and 3.9-4.4 C by 2080s. Globally an average increase of 2.8 to 3.4 C is expected by the turn of the next century, according to the Report on Climate Change published in February 2010 by the Planning Commission.
A climate change committee headed by the prime minister has been established. The Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the ONE UN Joint Program on Environment has developed a draft of the National Policy on Climate Change that will be finalised shortly and presented to the Cabinet for approval.
A National Plan of Action is also being developed. Pakistan is actively engaged in the Global Climate Change negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
A Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Cell was established in the environment ministry to increase awareness of stakeholders and partners in CDM activities under the Koyoto Protocol. The project aims to enhance technical capacity in development, implementation, monitoring and assessment of the CDM project in the country.
The ministry of environment has accorded host country approval to 30 CDM projects, which have been submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat for approval and funding by donors. The projects will reduce green house gases and promote transfer of technology and job creation.
Pakistan joined the Mangrove for Future Programme in the region to increase mangroves along the coastlines of Sindh and Baluchistan. These forests are vital for the protection of national installations and local communities.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2011.
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