FEA­TURES Pak­istan Miss­ing out on Cli­mate Change

Is Pak­istan mov­ing to­wards iso­la­tion­ism in the world com­mu­nity on cli­mate is­sues?

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Sam­ina Wahid The writer is a free­lance jour­nal­ist who con­trib­utes regularly to var­i­ous lead­ing publi­ca­tions.

Pak­istan re­mains par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to the ad­verse ef­fects of cli­mate change. De­spite that, there has been no con­certed ef­fort to date to counter the ef­fects of this phe­nom­e­non. Sim­ply put, the is­sue of cli­mate change does not fac­tor into the coun­try’s over­all eco­nomic plan­ning. If any­thing, the de­vel­op­ment bud­get has been slashed by more than 60 per cent with the gov­ern­ment only al­lo­cat­ing Rs58.8 mil­lion to com­bat cli­mate change in the Public Sec­tor De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme for 2013-14 as com­pared to 168.1 mil­lion al­lo­cated to the sub­ject in 2012- 13. This could have se­ri­ous reper­cus­sions for Pak­istan as far as agri­cul­ture, wa­ter and foresta­tion is con­cerned. It could also mean Pak­istan los­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion at in­ter­na­tional fo­rums. In­ter­na­tional donors and or­ga­ni­za­tions work­ing on cli­mate change are un­likely to sup­port Pak­istan in deal­ing with the threats posed by the same.

For in­stance, to cope with the dy­nam­ics of cli­mate change, sev­eral de­vel­oped coun­tries have es­tab­lished a Green Cli­mate Fund (GCF) which

es­tab­lished in 2010. Un­der the Fund, rich coun­tries agreed to mo­bi­lize $ 100 bil­lion ev­ery year start­ing 2020 from both public and pri­vate sources in the rich coun­tries to help de­vel­op­ing na­tions adapt to a chang­ing global cli­mate and re­duce their own car­bon emis­sions by boost­ing for­est growth, energy- ef­fi­cient ur­ban trans­porta­tion and shift­ing to re­new­able en­er­gies such as so­lar or wind and help them adapt to er­ratic weather pat­terns and their dele­te­ri­ous im­pacts.

Un­for­tu­nately, Pak­istan has no share in this be­cause it has not been able to ef­fec­tively deal with the chal­lenges posed by the chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment. While coun­tries such as Rwanda, Ethiopia and Mali have sub­mit­ted mul­ti­ple en­vi­ron­men­tal projects and re­ceived funds, Pak­istan has just sub­mit­ted one pro­ject to date for which it has yet to re­ceive funds.

The GCF works within the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC) that dis­trib­utes money from the de­vel­oped to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to help the lat­ter mit­i­gate the threats posed by cli­mate change. Over 198 coun­tries — rich and poor — are sig­na­to­ries to the UNFCCC, which is an in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal treaty that was opened for sig­na­ture at the Earth Sum­mit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and came into force in 1994. Un­for­tu­nately for Pak­istan, the lack of ca­pac­ity in pro­vin­cial en­vi­ron­men­tal de­part­ments has caused in­ad­ver­tent de­lays in the sub­mis­sion of pro­pos­als.

Ac­cord­ing to Cli­mate Change Sec­re­tary Arif Ahmed Khan, the prov­inces do not have the ca­pac­ity or the ex­per­tise to out­line pro­pos­als that meet the GCF cri­te­ria. “This is a cause for con­cern,” says Dr Qa­maruz Za­man Chaudhry, a lead­ing au­thor of the Na­tional Cli­mate Change Pol­icy and an ex­pert on cli­mate change. “Very soon, Pak­istan may face iso­la­tion in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity if it doesn’t take ef­fec­tive mea­sures to cope with the chang­ing weather pat­terns.”

He adds that de­vel­op­ment in it­self can no longer be viewed sep­a­rately. ““We need to link all our de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties like dams, roads, canals and bridges with cli­mate change; oth­er­wise all the de­vel­op­ment may go waste,” he ob­serves. Pak­istan needs to work to­wards de­vel­op­ing sell­able projects and en­hance ca­pac­ity to get its share from the Green Cli­mate Fund. Oth­er­wise, we may suf­fer from re­gional and global com­pli­ca­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2006 Pak­istan Strate­gic Coun­try En­vi­ron­men­tal As­sess­ment Re­port, the an­nual cost of en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion in Pak­istan has been es­ti­mated at Rs365 bil­lion ($ 4.2 bil­lion). In­ad­e­quate wa­ter sup­ply, san­i­ta­tion and hy­giene ac­count for Rs112 bil­lion ($ 1.3 bil­lion), agri­cul­ture soil degra­da­tion for Rs70 bil­lion ($ 807 mil­lion) and range land degra­da­tion and de­for­esta­tion Rs6 bil­lion ($ 69 mil­lion). En­vi­ron­men­tal ex­perts be­lieve the an­nual cost of en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion has now reached around Rs450 bil­lion ($ 5.2 bil­lion) in fi­nan­cial losses.

Mean­while, the an­nual rate of de­for­esta­tion ranges from 4- 6 per­cent while car­bon diox­ide emis­sions are in­creas­ing an­nu­ally at the rate of 8- 10 per­cent. More­over, an es­ti­mated 250 mil­lion gal­lons of un­treated wa­ter out of Karachi is dumped into the Ara­bian Sea ev­ery day, caus­ing great harm to both hu­mans and the ecosys­tem. Re­cent data in­di­cates that over one mil­lion acres of fer­tile, arable land in the In­dus delta has be­come sa­line and un­us­able, largely due to the re­ten­tion of fresh­wa­ter flows by large dams across the In­dus River.

The sit­u­a­tion is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dire but Pak­istan has yet to take con­crete mea­sures to cope with the chal­lenge. While In­dia and Bangladesh have been spend­ing on evolv­ing weather pat­terns and are re­ceiv­ing mil­lions of dol­lars from de­vel­oped coun­tries as part of cli­mate change aid, Pak­istan is miss­ing out on its share. In­dia is spend­ing over 2.6 per­cent of its GDP to cope with such chal­lenges. It is also one of the big­gest re­cip­i­ents of cli­mate change aid but Pak­istan’s al­lo­ca­tion for cli­mate change is stuck at 0.02 per cent of the to­tal Rs295.5 bil­lion of de­vel­op­ment funds. As a re­sult, Pak­istan is viewed as a ‘ non- se­ri­ous’ coun­try at in­ter­na­tional fo­rums which could even­tu­ally lead to the coun­try be­ing iso­lated at an in­ter­na­tional level.

Pak­istan also runs the risk of los­ing for­eign in­vest­ment in dif­fer­ent sec­tors if it doesn’t show the will to deal with chal­lenges of cli­mate change. Al­ready transna­tional and multi­na­tional com­pa­nies pre­fer to in­vest in In­dia, Bangladesh and other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries since the lat­ter are in­vest­ing heav­ily in their en­vi­ron­ment. The onus on deal­ing with en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges does not only lie with pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments – it also needs the at­ten­tion of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. The re­spon­si­bil­ity of draw­ing in­ter­na­tional fund­ing and in­vest­ment in var­i­ous sec­tors lies with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and if Pak­istan hopes to get its share of the Green Cli­mate Fund, pol­icy mak­ers must re­think their ap­proach to­wards the chang­ing cli­mate in the coun­try and its reper­cus­sions.

Pak­istan also runs the risk of los­ing for­eign in­vest­ment in dif­fer­ent sec­tors if it doesn’t show the will to deal with chal­lenges of cli­mate change.

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