Federal Minister Climate Change Minister, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, on Wednesday said that mainstreaming of climate change into country’s national, provincial district socio-economic development policies and strategies and heightened climate-smart investments in infrastructure, businesses, and skills is must for protecting Pakistan from fallouts of the climate change induced-disasters. 

            “There is a pressing need for making climate change concern an integral part of socio-economic development policies and action-plans, if we want to boost the country’s climate resilience against exacerbating impacts of climate change, particularly recurring droughts and floods, shifting and reducing rainfall patterns, glacial melt, depleting river flows and sea-level rise,” he said in response to a recent Climate Change Profile of Pakistan report published by the Asian Development Bank.

            Mushahidullah Khan said the role of policymakers and planners is very much critical in this regard and urged them to keep themselves abreast of shifting global, regional and national climate change patterns and possible adaptation and mitigation measures being adopted by the world to cope with the fallouts of the global warming-induced climate change.

            The report,, which provides with a summary of climate change risks in Pakistan, aims at policymakers, project developers, and development professionals, whose work may be touched by climate change. 

            The report says that over last five decades the annual average temperature in the country has increased by roughly 0.5°C, with the number of heat wave days per year increased nearly fivefold in the last three decades. 

            Besides, annual precipitation has historically shown high variability, but has slightly increased in the last 50 years.  Sea level along the Karachi coast has risen approximately 10 centimeters in the last century, devouring thousands of hectares of coastal lands, according to the Asian Development Bank’s report.

            The report further warns that the annual mean temperature in Pakistan is expected to rise by 3°C to 5°C for a central global emissions scenario, while higher global emissions may yield a rise of 4°C to 6°C. Predicting the future scenario of the sea-level rise, the report says the sea-level to go up by a further 60 centimeters by the end of the century and affect the low-lying coastal areas south of Karachi toward Keti Bander and the Indus River delta.

            Referring to the report findings, the climate change minister highlighted Climatic changes are potentially to bear various negative effects on the country’s farm productivity, water availability, increase coastal erosion and seawater incursion and frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.  

          “Therefore, coping with climate risks through adaptation and mitigation efforts - particularly in the agriculture, water, energy and health sectors - is now inevitable for the country, which can be achieved only through well-coordinated efforts and programmes by federal ministries, provincial and district departments,” Mushahidullah Khan said.    

          The climate change minister Mushahidullah Khan also said that role of non-governmental policy research and development organisation in helping the government agencies for mainstreaming climate change into the government’s policies and action-plans is of paramount significance to protect lives and livelihoods of the people and make the public infrastructure, agriculture, water, energy and health sectors climate-resilient.

          While identifying possible climate change adaptation solutions and their adoption in the country, he said, “policy at relevant government departments should play their roles and work in consultation with non-governmental policy organisations, research institutions  and academia for promoting drought, heat and flood-resilient crop varieties among farmers, modernising irrigation infrastructure network and adopting water-saving technologies like drip and sprinkler technologies, integrated watershed management, reforestation of catchment, flood-prone, coastal and riverine areas and building more water reservoirs, diversification of energy mix including investment in renewable and hydropower projects of varying sizes and modernization of weather forecasting and warning systems.

          “Being well positioned in terms of capacity, know-how and research, the non-governmental organizations can offer better and viable policy recommendations to federal, provincial and district government organizations and help them roll out workable adaptation and mitigation programmes,” Mushahidullah Khan argued.