Coal power generation is one ‘dirty’ business in this age of rising environmental concerns, and Pakistan is going to get its share soon with most new capacities coming from coal. However, threat to Pakistan’s environment goes way beyond that. Climate change has struck us hard; everyone is saying that yet it has remained on the backburner and sufficient resources have not been allocated to address the matter.
Global Climate Risk Index 2019 has put Pakistan among the top 10 countries on the Long-Term Climate Risk Index (CRI) with countries most affected from 1998 to 2017. It goes on to say that countries like Haiti, the Philippines and Pakistan are recurrently affected by catastrophes and they continuously rank among the most affected countries both in the long-term index and in the index for the respective year.
So how can the country combat climate change? While Pakistan’s share in green house emission has remained insignificant, the climate risk it faces has it bearing huge costs. According to the Global Climate Index 2019, the country suffered a loss worth $384 million in 2017 due to extreme weather events. One must understand that more than mitigation strategies (to control greenhouse emissions), the country needs efficient management of its energy resources and habitat, which includes the sprawling urban centres that lead to pollution among other risks.
Hence, there is a need for multi-faceted approach to deal with the climate change challenge where mitigation actions must also be accompanied by proactive actions that support the environment. To ensure that the action on climate catches root, deforestation needs to be halted and more area needs to be brought under forestation. Cities have to be transformed into environmentally livable places. The role of energy conservation as well as use of sustainable sources of energy like renewables is immense in saving the planet from the perils of climate change. A much less talked about solution is reusing and recycling activity, which can go a long way in fixing the damage.
Being among countries with extreme climatic risks is a daunting reality. While the country’s performance legislation wise is satisfactory (as in many other cases), the implementation as well as the capacity of the government institutions are the key bottlenecks. The recent Water Policy, the 10 billion Tree Tsunami after KPK’s billion Tree Tsunami, and the PM’s Clean Green Pakistan campaign, and the recent representation at the UN Climate Change Conference 2018 (COP24) are pro-climate initiatives. But it’s high time that the policy delivers in Pakistan if we are to fight the risks of climate change.