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EDITORIAL: As rains play havoc with people’s lives and properties in nearly all of Pakistan the federal cabinet too took notice of it and decided that there is a dire need for immediate implementation of the ‘Mitigation and Adaptation’ mechanism.

It also decided that the issues of global warming and climate change should be included in school and college syllabi, while harvesting of rainwater should be taken up on a war footing. In fact all of it has already been discussed but any concrete action for mitigation and adaptation has yet to climb down from the drawing board.

In March this year, the Ministry of Climate Change of Pakistan announced an updated version of National Climate Change Policy, adopted in October the year before, with a view to making Pakistan resilient to climate change and leading to a low-carbon society as the ‘10 Billion Tree Tsunami’ plan was launched.

Those saplings have yet to take roots and the mitigation goal to produce 60 percent energy from renewable sources and shifting 30 percent of transportation to electric vehicles by 2030 is nowhere in sight. Being the 10th most vulnerable country to global warming and climate change, Pakistan suffered a spell of forest fires before the monsoon unleashed its devastating spells that have lingered beyond their expected expiration.

In the context of climate change, Pakistan is exceedingly vulnerable to its geographic location, high dependence on agriculture and water resources, low adaptive capacity of its people and weak systems of emergency preparedness.

However, all of the above is only of academic interest; the fact being that the residents of planet Earth have provoked the Nature and earned its ire. Accepted, Pakistan is not guilty of global warming as many industrially developed counties are, but it is part of the globe the state-borders on which are of no consideration to the Nature.

The Nature is cruel and doesn’t permit liberty with its order, as the countries have done over the last one hundred years or so. If today Pakistan is being ruined by warmed-up oceans-triggered rains the rest of the world is no immune to the assaults of an angry Nature either. Unlike ever before a large part of Britain, for example, is facing unacceptable conditions of drought, while almost the entire Iberian Peninsula is on fire and wildlife is dying because of thirst everywhere.

For human survival all of it must change, and for livable future the humanity has got to stem the rise of planet-warming carbon emissions. It is a question of now or never, said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as he released the report prepared by UN’s Intergovernmental Planet on Climate Change (IPCC) early his year.

A close look at the causes that ignited forest fires and drenched millions of people in Pakistan however suggests that the mischief has been caused not only by global warming, but also by governmental failure. The bridges that floods took away, roads that disappeared under water and fires in the ‘chulgha’ forests were as much because of official oversight and neglect as because of global warming, if not more.

When we talk of harvesting rainwater why don’t we try knowing why the small dams constructed in the Potohar region in the 1970s are not there. We need to revive the Small Dams Organisation and entrust it with the job of constructing more small dams to harvest rainwater. Also, we would like to know why the criminals who ignited forest fires are not being tried and locked up.

There is also the need to find out what happened to the ‘billion trees’ initiative. Certainly, a lot of work is cut out for Minister of Climate Change Sherry Rehman, and hopefully she would be allowed to fight these demons of rains and fires the way she would want it to be. The time has come to materialise high thinking on climate change into actual work on the ground.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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