LAHORE: The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) country report on Pakistan emphasises the grave danger posed by climate change, pointing out that in the past two decades alone, 120 recorded events have caused an estimated $22 billion in material damages, left more than 55 million people affected and 11,000 killed.
It is worth noting that Pakistan is reeling from one of the worst floods in decades with more than a third of the country submerged. According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in northern mountains brought floods that have killed at least 1,265 people since June 14, mostly children, with 57 casualties reported during the last 24 hours.
Two weeks back, 14 vital connectivity roads in Balochistan — on which the economy relies for its goods transport to and from other countries — were cut off. Some 81 grid stations were flooded and 881 feeders were damaged across the country. Around 3,500 telecommunication towers in Sindh and Balochistan were disrupted during floods. Over 5,000 km of roads, 200 bridges, 1.4 million houses, and 700,000 livestock have been washed away.
The country report has also admitted a negligible contribution of about 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by Pakistan while registering a rising trend of increase in temperature, fluctuating levels of precipitation, and extreme climate shocks, putting it among the 10 countries worldwide with the largest damages from climate-related disasters since 2000.
The IMF report has feared more extreme temperatures, more erratic precipitation, and rising sea level, especially around Karachi, the country’s commercial hub and main deep-sea port.
Meanwhile, it has welcomed the preparation of a National Adaptation Plan, aiming at the 10 Billion Trees Tsunami Programme, the ecosystem restoration fund, and the recharge Pakistan initiative to reduce its vulnerability to climate change impacts by integrating adaptation measures into national policy.
Critical recent milestones comprise the enactment of the Climate Change Act in 2017 and the national electric vehicle policy. In parallel, the report has revealed that the IMF has recommended prioritizing more no-regret measures, such as enhancing early warning systems for local communities living in flood- and drought-prone areas.
The IMF has also advised the authorities to accelerate efforts to meet their international GHG reduction commitments. Key measures could include reforming energy prices, subsidies, and taxes (which would also help mobilize significant and easily collected revenues, e.g., to help finance the SDGs).
According to the report, the IMF had started to add newly eligible Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) beneficiaries to the program in Q3 FY 2021, besides exiting undeserving ones from the program in Q1 FY 2022 and established live registry points in all regions to give people an opportunity to re-declare their status in case of a shock (including, for instance, to personal circumstances or from a regional climate disaster).
According to the report, Pakistan’s unconditional reduction of 15 percent financed from the country’s own resources and a conditional reduction of 35 percent subject to the provision of international grant finance, which would require an estimated US$101 billion just for the energy transition.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022