It is October, yet it feels like 38°C is the new normal. Climate change, a global phenomenon is a reality and our country is not exempt from this. Unfortunately, Pakistan falls in the list of countries where the effects of the climate change are the harshest. For instance, Pakistan could run dry by 2025 as its water shortage is reaching an alarming level due to the fast melting of its glaciers. More importantly, various studies have shown that Pakistan may experience 2.5°C rise in temperature by 2050. Resultantly, the country may experience devastating floods, landslides, decreased agricultural productivity, and dramatic seasonal changes. As it is a common observation that winters have shrunk considerably while summers have prolonged, all this depicts a picture of doomsday for Pakistan as the unspeakable memories of 2010 floods in the country are still fresh.
However, if timely measures are taken collectively and holistically the crisis of climate change in Pakistan can be averted. For instance, according to a World Bank Report, the forests area in Pakistan have contracted to 4.8% 2020 from 6.4% in 1991 whereas the international standard is 12% forest cover. In this regard the Billion Tree Tsunami is an ideal project but it should be ascertained that the plantation drive ought to include those trees that require little water for example Hackberry and Live Oak etc. These trees have enhanced longevity and a greater shade area. Moreover, in tandem with the forests different orchards must also be cultivated as it can make the country self-sufficient in fruit production making it an important component of the exports.
Similarly, by cutting down the use of fossil fuels the crisis of climate change can be curtailed greatly. As a matter of fact, more dams need to be built so that our energy balance shifts towards hydel, reducing our reliance on fossil fuel. Furthermore, Thar in Pakistan, with an area of almost 20,000 km² is an ideal location for generation of solar energy because of its dry weather accompanied by long droughts. Additionally, Pakistan has a coastline of 990kms making it a potential hub of wind energy. By moving towards green energy, we can alleviate the effects of climate change and further reduce our oil import bills which during the current fiscal year stands at $10bn.
More importantly, the country needs a revitalized urban planning policy and a vibrant urban planning commission as the unfettered urbanization is causing deforestation, disturbance in food chains, and pollution of all sorts.
The effects of climate change have already revealed their nefarious designs. With more than 7,000, Pakistan has more glaciers than anywhere except the polar regions but climate change is “eating away Himalayan glaciers at a dramatic rate”. According to Global Climate Risk Index Pakistan is the 7th most vulnerable country to climate change. Moreover, the maximum temperature in Pakistan has already crossed the barrier of 50°C in most parts of the country. The looming crisis of climate change that further aggravated the water crisis can prove disastrous for the country if timely measures are not taken.
Climate Change requires concerted efforts from all quarters of the society. Pakistan needs to highlight this issue on various international platforms because as of now the country may be more vulnerable to climate change but the times are not far that every country around the globe will equally face its devastating impacts. The climate change is a global phenomenon and therefore requires a global response.
Muhammad Bilal Khattak
Alumni – Youth Provincial Assembly – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
The author is a native of Peshawar and holds a degree of Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar. Currently, he is working as a civil servant.