Pakistan launches first Ever National Climate Change Policy
By Ishaal Zehra
Much compliments for the Ministry of Climate Change, in Islamabad, on providing a framework for coping with the threats of climate change through adaptation and mitigation measures. The policy, officially launched on February 26, 2013, focuses on development sectors such as water resources, agriculture and livestock, forestry, human health, disaster preparedness, transport and energy.
“The goal is to ensure that climate change is mainstreamed in the economically and socially vulnerable sectors of the economy and to steer Pakistan towards climate resilient development,” Javaid Ali Khan, director-general of climate change and environment at the ministry said during his presentation at the launch.
Now that the policy has been launched, implementation is the biggest challenge the policy faces. Policy implementation committees will be formed at the federal and provincial levels. The relevant ministries and departments as well as provincial and local governments will come up with their own strategies to get to work.
According to the National Economy and Environment Development Study 2011, climate change adaptation measures from now to 2050 will cost around $6 billion to $14 billion and mitigation efforts during the same period will cost $7 billion to $18 billion.
There were a variety of financing options available for projects under the climate change policy such as the international Green Climate Fund which aims to raise $100 billion for environmental projects worldwide by 2020. A National Climate Change Fund will also be formed. Climate change is a huge challenge that the government cannot handle on its own. It requires collaboration and cooperation between the private and public sectors, Hussain asserted.
Some of the measures in the policy include flood forecasting warning systems, local rainwater harvesting, developing new varieties of resilient crops, health impact assessment of changing weather patterns, promotion of renewable energy sources and efficient mass transport systems.
Water and agricultural sectors are likely to be the most sensitive to climate change. Fresh water availability is expected to be highly vulnerable to the anticipated climate change. Pakistan has in most areas of agriculture a monsoon climate, and there might be abundant rainfall during the wet season and then a very long dry season where crop production depends very heavily on irrigation water. Though Pakistan has the worlds best irrigation system in hand but the neighbor India is a continuous threat to Pakistan’s water resource. May it be through the construction of Wullar Barrage or Kishan Ganga water project.
In the past two decades many a researches have been undertaken which point to the fact that Pakistan’s struggle with scarce water resources will escalate with time until and unless remedial measures are taken. These measures include the need for seeking alternate sources of water In addition to ensure that India does not violate the Indus Water Treaty. Knowing India, the latter seems totally out of question hence more focus must be put on local rain water harvesting.
At present, there are few reservoirs to capture rainwater and probably this added to worsen the situation in Sindh and Balochistan where Pakistan had to struggle with floods and displacement of entire communities. There is a dire need to construct reservoirs throughout the country on a war footing to ensure that rainwater can be used to meet the needs of the people. Certain concrete step towards climate threat and water issue was long due. Appreciation must be given to the Ministry who seemed to believe in the phrase better late than never. Climate change clock is ticking too fast and the time to act is here and now.