Pakistan’s geographic location makes it highly sensitive to climate changes: Experts
KARACHI: Environmentalists believe that it is vital to address issues related to climate change on an urgent basis, especially keeping in mind how the country has been affected by them in recent times.
Pakistan is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change because of its geographical location, high levels of pollution, low technological and resource base, high internal variability – both annual and seasonal, changing rainfall pattern and extreme weather changes that are leading to floods, droughts, cyclones and landslides. Environmentalists believe it is time to work on the issues related to climate change.
Habib University hosted the ‘Conference on Climate Change’ at the Pearl Continental Hotel on Saturday when national and international environmentalists and activists discussed issues, such as the impact of social and economic activities on climate, the costs involved and mitigation strategies.
“Climate change is a big threat to the country’s various socio-economic sectors, including agriculture,” said Global Changes Impacts Studies Agriculture section head Dr Muhammad Mohsin Iqbal. “The projected impacts of climate change on agriculture include a decrease in harvest quantity as well as quality.” Iqbal then went on to add that the livestock sector will also be affected negatively by these changes.
“This [climate change] is a reality that must be faced,” said Iqbal. “Almost 95 per cent of climate change is due to human activities. Pakistan’s forests are decreasing rapidly at an alarming rate of between 0.2 and 0.4 per cent per annum. This deforestation contributes to soil erosion and causes landslides.”
University of Zurich’s Prof Dr Heinz Gutscher suggested that climate change should be part of the national climate policy of the country. “Pakistan is affected substantially by climate change,” said Gutscher. “Even with intense global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions – which, unfortunately, is not a very likely scenario at the moment – Pakistan will have to deal with the consequences of climate change for a long time.”
Professor at the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany Dr Ilan Chapay felt that the changes in climate and ecology pose a serious challenge at multiple geographic and governance levels. “These challenges cannot be solved by natural science or technology alone,” he said. “We need the full depth of traditional disciplinary expertise coupled with new modes and technologies.”
Talking on the topic of ‘Role of Academy in Climate Change’, Dr Shoaib Zaidi of Habib University said that it is vital to acquire an accurate understanding of climate change and its causes and impacts. “It is indisputable that studying climate changes should be an important priority,” he added. “To advance our knowledge and awareness of these critical issues requires scientific rigour as well as the appreciation that the world is interconnected.”
Agriculture Economics Texas Prof Dr Bruce McCarl discussed the effects and causes of climate change and how it needs to be factored into decisions. “Climate change raises major challenges for current and future decision-making as well as the economy, especially the agriculture industry.”
The Republic of Maldives environment and energy state minister Hasan Shah talked about the impact of climate change on the Maldives and shared a number of environmental issues in his country, including the effects of weather pattern and climate change.