Cli­mate risk re­port

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL -

CLI­MATE change is now a re­al­ity. Ac­cord­ing to the Global Cli­mate Risk In­dex 2016, which makes a sur­vey of 195 coun­tries fac­ing vary­ing de­grees of cli­mate risks, 10 are the most af­fected, in­clud­ing Pak­istan. The re­port, re­leased by the Bonn-based ad­vo­cacy group Ger­man­watch, says that Hon­duras, Myan­mar and Haiti were the most af­flicted by cli­mate dis­as­ters be­tween 1995 and 2014. Next were the Philip­pines, Nicaragua, Bangladesh, Viet­nam, Pak­istan, Thai­land and Gu­atemala.

Al­to­gether, more than 525 000 peo­ple died as a di­rect re­sult of about 15 000 ex­treme weather events and losses be­tween 1995 and 2014. The cli­mate risk re­port analy­ses as to what ex­tent coun­tries have been af­fected by the im­pacts of weather-re­lated events - storms, floods, heat waves etc. The most re­cent data re­late to the year 2014 and 1995-2014. This year's 11th edi­tion of the anal­y­sis shows that less de­vel­oped coun­tries are gen­er­ally more af­fected than in­dus­tri­alised ones. Most of the coun­tries who made it in the top 10 for ex­treme weather in 2014 had suf­fered ex­cep­tional catas­tro­phes.

The Global Cli­mate Risk In­dex ranks Pak­istan eighth, two spots higher than last year's 10th spot, on the list of coun­tries most af­fected by the ex­treme weather in the last 20 years (1995 to 2014).

Af­ter low rain­falls in March 2014, which threat­ened food se­cu­rity of poor house­holds in the coun­try, heavy mon­soon rains and floods in Septem­ber caused 367 deaths, af­fected more than 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple and over 1 mil­lion acres of crop­land. Ac­cord­ing to the Re­cov­ery Needs As­sess­ment and Ac­tion Frame­work 2014-16 re­port pre­pared by the Na­tional Disas­ter Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (NDMA) and United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme, the se­vere mon­soon floods in re­cent years have largely af­fected in­fra­struc­ture in Pun­jab and Azad Kash­mir where more than 5,000 com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment schemes have been dam­aged cost­ing over Rs15 bil­lion to the na­tional ex­che­quer. It is es­ti­mated that around 7,550 mi­cro, small and medium size ba­sic Com­mu­nity Phys­i­cal In­fra­struc­ture (CPI) units are still in need of par­tial or full re­pair in the worst hit dis­tricts. Th­ese in­clude dam­aged link roads, cul­verts, em­bank­ments, ir­ri­ga­tion chan­nels, school build­ings, health ser­vices and wa­ter sup­ply fa­cil­i­ties.

Af­ter a long wait, the Paris cli­mate sum­mit held last month served as use­ful fo­rum to dis­cuss sev­eral in­ter­na­tional pol­icy is­sues rel­e­vant to re­duce the im­pacts of ex­treme events. The Paris cli­mate change ac­cord com­mit­ted 195 coun­tries, es­pe­cially the in­dus­tri­al­ized ones, to cut the growth of their green­house gas emis­sions. The agree­ment also called for keep­ing the "in­crease in the global av­er­age tem­per­a­ture well below two de­grees Cel­sius above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els and to pur­sue ef­forts to limit the tem­per­a­ture in­crease to 1.5 de­grees". The Paris deal rep­re­sents a his­toric break­through on an is­sue that has foiled decades of in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to ad­dress cli­mate change. Pre­vi­ous at­tempts at cli­mate con­trol mainly fo­cused on ac­tion by de­vel­oped economies like the United States to lower green­house gas emis­sions. But un­der the Paris deal the obli­ga­tion is to­tal, all across the board, re­quir­ing ac­tion in some form from ev­ery coun­try, rich or poor.

De­spite tell-tale signs of cli­mate disas­ter loom­ing on the hori­zon, the govern­ment of Pak­istan has not yet ad­dressed the is­sue with the se­ri­ous­ness it de­serves. As we can see, the weather pat­terns and cy­cles are chang­ing fast. Sum­mers are hot­ter than be­fore, while fre­quent bouts of freez­ing cold mark the win­ters. Mon­soon flood­ing is now a reg­u­lar an­nual fea­ture. Th­ese are dan­ger sig­nals in­di­cat­ing that worse lies ahead. It is time the min­istry of en­vi­ron­ment woke up and put its act to­gether to meet the chal­lenge of cli­mate change.

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