Even though Sindh has lost so much and stands to lose even more due to climate change, the province remains virtually asleep on one of the biggest crises it is facing today. It had created a climate change department three years ago under former chief minister Qaim Ali Shah.
The move came after the province had suffered at least three major incidents, partly induced by climate change, including the deadly heatwave of 2015 that left over a thousand dead; a drought in Thar that killed scores more; and devastating floods that claimed more lives and caused irreparable damage.
But even three years after the department had been created, no explicit funds or resources have been allocated for it and the new government, led by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, has found it quaint to merge it with the environment and the coastal development departments. In what comes out as a damning indictment, a federal climate change official says that Sindh even lacks the capacity to devise a plan or project to tackle climate change, evidenced by how it failed to submit any project for the UN’s Green Climate Fund.
While our policies are generally reactionary, Sindh sets a new bar on its lethargy in even reacting to crises. Despite suffering critical climate change effects, such as droughts in Thar and heatwaves in its cities, it has either failed to respond adequately to ensure that such events do not recur or their effects are sufficiently toned down. It is high time that Sindh Climate Change Minister Taimur Talpur and the Sindh provincial government, as a whole, woke up to prepare for literally beating the heat that people of the province are all set to feel in the summer months.
The province must move ahead with formulating an integrated approach to tackle climate change effects in Sindh on an emergency basis and finalise a comprehensive climate change policy with properly-funded contingency and mitigation measures.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2019.
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