ISLAMABAD (Dec 4, 2018) — ‘Terminator” fame Hollywood actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has promised to visit Pakistan soon.
In a recent tweet, Prime Minister’s Advisor for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said, “Just met with @Schwarzenegger who’s promised to come to #Pakistan to highlight our extreme climate vulnerability #COP24.”
Malik is in Poland to represent Pakistan at the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The government has pledged to reduce emissions by 2030, as required by nations that signed the Paris Climate Accord, but it has not said how it will accomplish that.
Reforestation drives, tree planting initiatives and gradual increase in use of environmental friendly natural gas for power are some steps taken, but that’s not enough, experts say. “We also need to inculcate on national level the idea of “save,conserve, reuse” as a mindset also from the level of a child to the old”.
Pakistan is ground zero for global warming consequences.
Pakistan is 7th most vulnerable country to climate change, according to the 2018 Global Climate Risk Index released by the public policy group Germanwatch.
Pakistan is in a geographic location where average temperatures are predicted to rise faster than elsewhere, increasing 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) by the year 2100, according to a 2012 World Wildlife Fund report.
This past April 30, the temperature in the southern city of Nawabshah soared to 122.4 degrees Fahrenheit (50.2 degrees Celsius), the hottest day on earth ever recorded in April, the Pakistan Meteorological Department and World Meteorological Organization said. It was even hotter in the southern city of Turbat on May 28, 2017, when the temperature hit a sizzling 128.3 degrees Fahrenheit (53.5 Celsius).
Since June 2015, more than 1,300 people have died from the heat nationwide and 65,000 were treated for heat illnesses, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority for the Karachi region reported.
Depleting water supplies are another problem in a country where 60 percent of the land receives less than 10 inches of rain per year. Rivers are mainly fed by the Hindu Kush-Karakoram Himalayan glaciers, which are melting rapidly due to global warming.
Pakistan’s rising temperatures are also being boosted because forests are being destroyed as people clear areas for housing and other developments. The trend also is resulting in less fertile land for farming.
Global warming is extending summer-like weather to virtually the entire year, from January until November, says Muhammad Akmal, a professor at Peshawar Agriculture University.
A 2017 report by the Asian Development Bank concludes that northern parts of the country will suffer the biggest increases in temperatures and that water per capita will decrease at an alarming rate in coming years.
The report also warned that extreme climate change events, such as heavier rains that cause flooding, will damage the country’s gas, oil, and power infrastructure. Warmer temperatures also may affect the efficiency of nuclear plants, it said.
“There is a need to develop drought- and heat-tolerant crops that show optimum performance even with changes in climate patterns,” the report said. It also called for construction of water storage systems, investment in renewable energy, “improved weather forecasting and warning systems, retrofitting of critical energy infrastructure, and construction of dikes or sea walls.”
Back in November 2017, Dr Adil Najam, Dean, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, said Pakistan doesn’t need any such reports to tell that it faces serious climate challenges. “The problem is that we continue to refuse to act in the face of clear and present danger. Another report. Another list. Another ranking. Another seminar. Another talk. That will not help as much as action will,” he said.
“Unfortunately, our politics and our media is too caught in immediate trivialities – tamashas, really – to pay heed to things that could actually imperil their own and their children’s future. More than anything in this report (by Germanwatch), this is the saddest finding of all,” concluded Najam.
It’s been a year since. Nothing’s really changed narrative wise, except for a mega initiative launched by the Chief Justice to build dams–that’s only one part of a national effort needed.
COP24 showcases high climate vulnerability and successful stories of adaptation to the world, so that these cases are effectively portrayed, along with building pressure on the developed countries to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.