The Dire Need for Effective Preventive Measures Against Climate Change in Pakistan

Pakistan faces an intensifying climate change crisis, with the threat now more relentless and knocking at our doors with unprecedented urgency. While the government has acknowledged this looming danger, the infrastructure to implement effective preventive measures remains woefully inadequate.

The world has been witnessing an unprecedented surge in natural disasters, which are growing in intensity. This century has seen climate-related calamities occurring simultaneously across the globe, a phenomenon unheard of in previous times. Scientific research attributes this to human activities that began impacting the world with the onset of industrialization in the nineteenth century.

Factories running on fossil fuels mushroomed during this period, leading to a corresponding increase in emissions. The interconnectedness of our environment means that any impact on one element, such as human activities, can lead to adverse effects. For instance, areas producing crops may experience damaging heat that endangers the harvest and threatens the food supply. These impacts can become so widespread that they alter the entire natural ecosystem of an area, and eventually, the entire planet.

Climate change is a broad term that is often narrowly used and confused with hot weather, heatwaves, and severe weather conditions. The United Nations defines climate change as long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts can be natural, due to changes in the sun’s activity or large volcanic eruptions. However, since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas.

Human-induced emissions in the environment are causing the greenhouse effect. When sunlight enters the Earth’s atmosphere, some of the heat is supposed to be reflected into space. However, emissions from fossil fuels are creating a layer of gases in the atmosphere that traps heat, preventing it from escaping. This is how the Earth is heating up, creating a greenhouse effect, and impacting weather systems, seasonal cycles, and living beings.

We have seen that this shift in climate causes heatwaves, massive flooding, wildfires, severe droughts, landslides, and more. These effects are largely felt by poorer countries that do not contribute significantly to emissions but bear the brunt of its consequences. For instance, Pakistan’s total emissions account for less than 1% of global carbon emissions but suffered an “unfair” share of its damaging aftereffects. The major carbon emitters are industrialised countries such as the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the G20 countries.

In 2022, the World Bank in its report suggested a whopping $348 billion as a total investment required to build the capability and resilience to climate change. In last year’s budget, Pakistan allocated around $1.3 billion for its climate change implementation plan. This was a good step, but it fell short of the World Bank’s suggested investment, highlighting the financial constraints the country faces in its fight against climate change.

In the recent National Economic Council (NEC) meeting, a national development budget outlay of Rs. 3.5 trillion was approved. The budget aims to address various areas, including climate change. The NEC directed the planning ministry to ensure the provinces’ positive role in the national economy and to present a comprehensive framework to increase the country’s exports. The ministry was also directed to include the provinces in the consultation process to achieve the overall economic growth target of the country.

While these steps are encouraging, experts argue that a more comprehensive, well-funded, and politically backed approach is needed to effectively combat climate change. The country needs to invest in sustainable energy solutions, build resilience to the impacts of climate change, and ensure that climate change mitigation and adaptation are integrated into all aspects of policy and planning.

The next financial year is very important for Pakistan to show how serious it is about dealing with climate change. What the government does in the next few months will show if it can make real changes based on its promises about the climate. Everyone in the world, and especially the people of Pakistan, will be watching what happens.

Pakistan has started to do something about climate change, but there’s still a lot more work to do. The country needs a detailed plan for dealing with climate change, and it needs enough money and political support to make it happen. This is the only way Pakistan can lessen the impact of climate change and protect its future.

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