As one of the most vulnerable countries in the world, Pakistan has not escaped climate change’s effects. Climate-related disasters in the past two decades have killed at least 10,000 Pakistanis, costing the country $4 billion in losses. In addition to the loss of human life and property, climate change also threatens to exacerbate existing social tensions and conflict over scarce resources. While the impact of climate change on Pakistan is yet to be assessed, a government-led strategy will be necessary to tackle the situation.
The current monsoon season has been particularly brutal in Pakistan, and extreme weather is becoming more common in the region. As a result, Pakistan’s major cities are not equipped to cope with extreme weather. The last five weeks of monsoon rains have been devastating to the country, killing at least 282 people and destroying thousands of homes and critical infrastructure.
The country’s landscape is very diverse, with mountainous regions along its borders and mostly dry terrain inside the country. Freshwater supplies are derived largely from the Indus River Basin. However, the Ravi river, which flows through the province of Punjab, is among the world’s most polluted rivers. Furthermore, water security and mobility are at risk as a result of climate change.
Adaptation to climate change
Adaptation to climate change is a critical issue for Pakistan, which ranks among the top ten most vulnerable countries in the Climate Risk Index. Adaptation efforts are being compromised by the increasing severity of climate-related events. The effects of climate change have already started to impact the lives of many communities, and this threatens to lead to conflicts over scarce resources and human lives. Furthermore, climate-related disasters can exacerbate already-existing tensions among groups, a serious problem for any government.
Gender equality and gender responsive action are also critical to the success of climate change adaptation in Pakistan. A recently developed Climate Change Gender Action Plan aims to make sure women are included in climate action decisions and are represented equally.
Mitigation of climate change
While climate change has implications for all countries, Pakistan is among the most vulnerable, according to a German watch report. The country emits 980Kg of carbon dioxide per capita per year, which makes it one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. The country is also arid, with few natural resources, such as forest. Water availability is another major issue, as is the growth of the population.
In the southern plains of Pakistan, rainfall is scarce and temperatures have been rising. In January, there were significant rains in Leghari, but the southern plains are sparsely rained. This has led to crop losses in some areas. In March, Nawabshah recorded temperatures of 42 degrees Celsius. Despite the adversities, Pakistan’s government has formulated various programs to mitigate climate change and adapt to it. These efforts are led by the cabinet ministry.
Humanitarian impact of climate change
Climate change is likely to exacerbate Pakistan’s already dire humanitarian needs. Despite its small size, the country is facing multiple shocks that have disrupted livelihoods and forced millions from their homes. Currently, over 11 million people need emergency aid, with the greatest numbers affected in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. As a country prone to natural disasters, Pakistan has been hit particularly hard by the recent floods and natural calamities. As a result, the country’s humanitarian needs have grown dramatically.
The UNHCR is already working in Pakistan on the issue of climate change. It is working on ways to mitigate these impacts and strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities. This includes ensuring that people in disaster zones can return home safely and without fear of a future disaster. In fact, UNHCR’s Global Compact on Refugees recognizes the impact of climate change and other environmental degradation on refugees and their host communities. To help address this issue, UNHCR has appointed Andrew Harper as its Special Advisor on Climate Action. In his role, he is shaping the UNHCR’s global climate action agenda. He also provides legal advice and guidance to help the agency better protect its displaced populations.
The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change details the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities. It highlights the importance of climate-smart adaptation measures and calls for urgent local action to address the challenges posed by climate change. The report also outlines priorities for humanitarian action and identifies key areas in which additional funding is needed.