Pakistan’s extensive arid and semi-arid areas, frequent exposure to natural hazards, and significant dependence on monsoon rainfall and the glacier-fed Indus Basin make it vulnerable to climate change. The government of Pakistan has established several policies and documents to frame the overall objectives regarding the growing risks of climate change-induced implications in the country. However, the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) report the sensitivity of climate change threats for the Asian region, in agricultural dependent economies such as Pakistan, arises from the unique geographical location, socioeconomic factors, demographic trends and lack of adaptive capacity.
So far, Pakistan has remained on the list as a 7th most vulnerable climate change affected country in the world. In the past decade, extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, glacial lake outbursts, cyclones, and heat waves have adversely affected the country’s economic growth. For instance, a super devastating flood of 2010 alone, killed 1600 people, overwhelmed an area of 38,600 square kilometres, and caused damage worth around $10 billion. Similarly, the heatwave in Karachi in 2015 led to the death of more than 1200 people.
The climate change projections show that warming is likely to be above global mean temperature, and it will impact glaciers melting rate and precipitation patterns, particularly affecting the strength and timing of monsoon rainfall in Pakistan.
Consequently, this will significantly impact the productivity and efficiency of economic, social, and environmental sectors. Moreover, Pakistan has ranked relatively low among countries on per ca-pita greenhouse gases GHG emissions basis, due to its low level of production and high level of population. Nevertheless, According to the National Greenhouse gas Inventory of Pakistan, GHG emissions are expected to increase manifolds in the coming decades. During the last century, Pakistan’s average annual temperature has risen by 0.57°C compared to 0.75°C for South Asia. The number of heat wave days has also expanded during the period 1980 to 2007.
Similarly, An overall decrease of 17% to 64% in rainfall patterns have been observed during the seven-strong El Niño events in the last 100 years. In the future, temperature, frequency of hot days, and change of rainfall patterns change, which will significantly decrease the production of major food crops such as wheat and rice. Likewise, these variations in weather events will also have dire consequences on the water and energy sector.
Whereas the livestock area is the backbone of agriculture that plays a vital role in the development of the rural economy is also expected to decline. It is reported that approximately 11.9 percent of Pakistan’s GDP depends on livestock production. With the rise in temperature, the rate of evaporation increases and recharge to groundwater table decreases that may lead to forest mortality as well as the risk of wildfires are expected.
AYESHA QASIM Environmental Sciences/ Engineering image credit Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash