Pakistan has suffered an accumulative loss of $15 billion due to floods in recent three years while 22.8 percent area and 49.6 percent population of the country is at risk of climate change impact. Director General, Pak Environmental Protection Agency, Asif Shuja Khan, revealed this on Tuesday while briefing members of Senate Sub-committee of the Functional Committee on Human Rights.
Pakistan has been facing grave environmental degradation that costs six percent of the GDP, amounting to Rs 365 billion per annum, he said, adding that German watch has ranked Pakistan amongst the 10 most vulnerable countries since 2010. Khan said the accelerated jumps in the mean temperature trend after 1950s over Pakistan are much higher as compared to the global change. “The warming over Pakistan is twice as fast as the global mean change over the period 1981-2005. The mean temperature in Pakistan has risen 0.74 degree Celsius from 1991 to 2005,” he informed the participants.
The global warming is increasing with the passage of time, as global temperature has increased 0.6 degree Celsius during the last century, he said, adding that mean sea level has also risen by 0.19 meter and will continue to rise during the 21st century. Talking about the Green House Gas emissions, he said that Pakistan’s share in the GHG emissions is less than 0.8 percent and the country also remains to be one of the lowest per capita emitters. “We have a minimum share in the GHG emissions but we are one of the worst victims of climate change,” convenor of the committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed remarked.
DG Pak EPA further said the region covers 17 percent of the mountain area storing about 12,000 bcm of freshwater, 15,000 glaciers sustain and impact about 10 percent of the total population. The impact of glacier melt is extremely far reaching and destructive and its signs are quite clear, he said, adding that the average rate of recession between 1985 and 2001 is about 23 meter per year, going up by 30 percent since last 10 years.
“Total area of Himalayan glaciers will shrink from 500,000 to 100,000 square kilometer very soon,” he said. Elaborating on Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change, he said that a large part of the country’s economy is based on agriculture, which is climate sensitive while people have limited and low access to climate change related knowledge.
“Pakistan has low capacity to adapt to climate change due to low technological and resource base, besides low financial and institutional capacity,” he said. Senator Farhatullah Babar said the committee should look into the available finances, legislation on climate change and technical issues before planning future goals. “First of all, we need to identify loopholes in our legislation and plug them for a better future planning to mitigate and adapt to the climate change impacts,” he said.
Senator Saifullah Khan said the government is emphasising on production of electricity from coal but this has environmental hazards. “Coal is not a clean energy source. Therefore, we should take all precautionary and proactive measures to avoid the environmental hazards,” he said.
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>