Climate change: Help is available, but Pakistan isn’t taking it

Experts chide govt for refusing foreign assistance in combating climate change.


Peer Muhammad July 22, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


Experts on Saturday opined that Pakistan was being affected by global warming, but the authorities were not taking the issue seriously enough. While talking to The Express Tribune, they lamented the lack of interest government was showing by not availing assistance from international donors that was on offer to address the problem.


Pakistan is a country which has a relatively low contribution – around 0.8 per cent –  towards global warming, but it is among the top 10 countries considered most vulnerable to climate change.

A climate change policy was approved by the federal cabinet in March this year, said an official. But the climate change ministry had been directed by the cabinet to make some changes in it, including putting related material in the national curriculum as well as some modifications pertaining to forestry, he added. It will be presented to the cabinet afresh in the coming week.

A task force on climate change was set up in 2008 consisting of 40 scientists with nine experts committees. The committees had formulated policies in their respective fields and the National Climate Change Policy was based on the task force’s report on climate change, the official said.

Dr Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry, who is the key author of the National Climate Change Policy, said that lack of resources and capacity building are the key hurdles facing the implementation of the policy.

The meagre funding allocation for the climate change ministry cannot address the challenges posed by global warming, he added.

Dr Chaudhry cited Bangladesh as an example of a country that has taken international assistance to address climate change; an opportunity Pakistan has allowed to pass by. Bangladesh availed $500 million for climate change last year alone 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,” he said.

Dr Chaudhry suggested the use of appropriate project designs in sectors including agriculture, energy, water and forestry to avail funding opportunities from international donors.

He recommended work be done in a well-coordinated manner to mitigate the impact of floods and other natural disasters to avoid huge losses, while expressing concern that Pakistan is heading towards a water crisis this year due to insufficient monsoon rains and 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.

Meanwhile, Climate Change Ministry Environment Director General Jawed Ali Khan said the federal cabinet will give legal status to the policy as the implementation process has already started.

Khan said an action plan has also been chalked out to implement the policy, but the key is changing the public’s behaviour as far as climate change is concerned. “Many climatic changes are the outcomes of human induced action (HIA) and could be minimised by changing human behaviour,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.

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