Pakistan has been ranked as number one on a list of countries hit worst by weather extremes in 2010 by Germanwatch, a climate and development organisation. The index, which ranks countries affected over the last twenty years by weather extremes such as flooding and storms, was announced during an address at the United Nations Climate Summit in Durban, South Africa.
“The timely report analytically supports and strongly reinforces our case for extreme climate vulnerability,” said former environment minister Malik Amin Aslam.
“[The index] recognises the now indisputable fact that Pakistan faces climate impacts which are not only happening in real time but in a widely diverse pattern - ranging from extreme events such as cyclones, glacial melting and floods as well as indirect impacts such as droughts, shifting cropping patterns and climate-induced migrants,” he added.
Need for funds
Speaking at the press conference, government official Farrukh Iqbal Khan highlighted that Pakistan incurred an economic loss worth an estimated $9.6 billion from last year’s floods alone, whereas 8 million people were affected and hundreds of lives lost.
Building on Pakistan’s case, Iqbal said that he was frustrated by the ‘unwillingness’ of countries to contribute to the Adaptation Fund for vulnerable countries to deal with climate change impacts. He further explained: “The rising financial costs for coping with climate disasters, highlighted in the report, are also in line with our internal analysis which forecasts these climate finance needs to be in the range of $6-14 billion per annum for Pakistan”.
According to Sven Harmeling, author of the index and team leader of International Climate Policy at Germanwatch, “the current inadequate promises of the world’s governments to fight climate change will push our limits of preparing for disasters and adaptation”. He added, “Durban’s climate summit will be decisive for necessary commitments made by all governments to reverse the global emissions trend”.
Climate disasters will increase
Earlier this month, the UN-convened Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation”, which linked extreme weather conditions to climate change. It further predicted that the frequency and intensity of climate disasters will increase, and vulnerable countries like Pakistan will be severely affected.
Unfortunately, Pakistan lacks both the technology and capacity to respond to these climate impacts effectively. Even after experiencing severe floods in 2010, Pakistan was unable to initiate proper disaster management systems which would have helped in dealing with the floods in Sindh this year.
Iqbal explained the government is doing its best to deal with natural disasters, saying “We are working with different entities to build the institutional capacities of Pakistan to respond to these disasters. We have already taken an initial step in the right direction”.
The Germanwatch report will assist Pakistan in making the case demanding urgency of response both locally as well as in Durban during the climate talks.
The Global Climate Risk Index is based on data collected from the renowned database MunichRe.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2011.