Strategy to minimise devastating impact of climate change | By Dr Muhammad Khan


Strategy to minimise devastating impact of climate change

DESPITE clear evidences and warnings of the climate change and environmental degradation, the successive governments in Pakistan have not taken any tangible measures to minimize their impact.

Resultantly, from July to August 2022, the nation lost hundreds of precious lives besides destruction to their houses and properties.

As per rough estimates, over 800 people lost their lives as a result of massive flooding in various parts of the country, especially the Sindh and Balochistan provinces.

In July and August 2022, the national rainfall was almost 200% above average, the worst ever since 1961.

The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has estimated that, over 2.3 million people of Pakistan have been directly affected by heavy monsoon rainfall and flooding in the country.

Over 100,000 houses have been destroyed completely besides damaging a further 224,100.

“More than 504,000 livestock have been killed, nearly all of them in Balochistan, while damage to nearly 3,000 km of roads and 129 bridges has impeded movement around flood-affected areas.

” As per Minister of Climate Change, international assistance is needed to rehabilitate the people since neither provinces nor federal government can really cope with this magnitude of climate catastrophic.

These massive losses from flood clearly indicate four aspects: One, climate change is taking place for the past many decades and it is accelerating with the passage of time.

Two, climate change is mainly caused by human beings though there are many natural causes, boosting this process and environmental degradation.

Three, the climate change threatens the national security as a threat multiplier. Four; the successive governments have not taken any worthwhile measures to control the destruction and human losses, occurring due to massive flooding and other effects of climate change.

In a way, the climate change is related to national security of any state and states like Pakistan are more vulnerable from this perspective.

As per the assessment of the security community from across the globe, the extreme weather conditions have more and direct impact on national security of states.

The national security is an all-encompassing concept including food security, human security, and security of water sources.

Analysing its impact, the climate change is an “accelerant of instability” that affects issues like food, water and energy security.

In fact, it is the major driver of the internal displacement and cross-border migration of the people, a domain of national security.

The displacements and migrations are caused by food and water security, which are mainly caused by climate change.

The national security planning is about managing the risks in first phase and ending it all together in subsequent phases.

Indeed, the risks of climate change are real and growing with each passing day. As experienced in the past, risk management is something that militaries do well as compared to other organizations of a state.

In Pakistan, the military have been helping the civil administrations during floods or any natural calamities.

In recent floods, all three services of Pakistan are busy in providing the relief and rehabilitation process all over Pakistan.

Indeed, security community of Pakistan has advance contingency planning to tackle the risks associated with climate change.

The process needs to be extended to all relevant government departments. The internal displacements of the masses owing to floods, droughts and other situations, taken place in the past has created demographic issues and increase in the urbanization of main cities.

The Global Climate Risk Index-2020 has placed Pakistan 5th on the list of countries vulnerable to climate change.

The three regions of Pakistan: Thar desert, southern Punjab and southwestern Balochistan are more vulnerable because they totally depend on agriculture and herding which depend on weather, and weather is marred by climate change.

A recent World Bank report predicted that Pakistan is expected to experience a decline in living standards across its territory by 2050 under both climate sensitive and carbon intensive scenarios.

These poor living standards may lead to poverty, disease and increase in the crime rate. Such conditions exacerbated by climate change may provide an ideal breeding ground for organized crimes, militancy dissident movements, terrorism and violent political uprisings.

The significant aspect of the climate change is that, it is fuelling conflicts based on ethnic and provincial factors.

In Pakistan, there is growing tension between provinces over the resource allocation, inequalities especially over the distribution of water from Indus Water System.

The accusations and counter accusations have put Pakistan into a dilemma. The process in turn gave way to provincial and ethnic rivalries.

A conflicting situation and likelihood of chaotic environment will impede the political stability and economic progress of Pakistan.

As a way forward, there is to create an awareness campaign about the climate change and environmental degradation all over Pakistan.

In this regard there are some of the suggestions the Government of Pakistan should ponder upon.

First, there is a need to give a compulsory coverage of the subject of climate change and its implication in national curricula of all educational institutions.

Two, Government must initiate a national debate over the climate change and its wider implications on the national security while involving the elected representatives, officials, institutions, organizations and masses for taking necessary remedial measures.

The most important aspects are to develop the national strategies at three levels: a) The short-term strategy should cater for immediate measures to stop further upturn in climate change by constructing dams and water storages, b) medium-term strategy includes a gradual stoppage of man-made and artificial causes of climate change and c) long-term strategy should aim at introducing a constitutional package for the formulation of national policies on all issues for national preservation and constitutional safeguards against any attempt to cause climate change.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.


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