It sounds very alarming and unfortunate that Pakistan ranks among the top 10 highest vulnerable nations affected by climate change, despite contributing less than 1% of total global emission. However, it is even equally disastrous and worrisome to get revealed to the reality that climate change costs Pakistan $3.8 billion annually.
A joint study titled “Climate Risk Country Profile” for Pakistan released by Asian Development Bank and World Bank this week put Pakistan among the top risk-prune countries in terms of increase in average temperatures and resultant economic and social losses. The salient features of the report are below;
- Rising Temperature
Pakistan faces rates of warming considerably above the global average with a potential rise of 1.3°C–4.9°C by the 2090s over the 1986–2005 baseline. The range in possible temperature rises highlights the significant differences between 21st century emissions pathways. Rises in the annual maximum and minimum temperature are projected to be stronger than the rise in average temperature, likely amplifying the pressure on human health, livelihoods, and ecosystems.
- Disaster Risk
Changes to Pakistan’s rainfall and runoff regimes, and hence its water resources, are highly uncertain, but an increase in the incidence of drought conditions is likely. An increase in the number of people affected by flooding is projected, with a likely increase of around 5 million people exposed to extreme river floods by 2035–2044, and a potential increase of around 1 million annually exposed to coastal flooding by 2070–2100.
- Food Insecurity
Projections suggest yield declines in many key food and cash crops, including cotton, wheat, sugarcane, maize, and rice. All of the above should be seen in the context of high and persistent levels of undernourishment and deprivation.
- Health Issues
The frequency and intensity of extreme climate events is projected to increase, increasing disaster risk particularly for vulnerable poor and minority groups. Temperature increases are likely to place strain on urban dwellers and outdoor laborers, with increased risk of heat-related sickness and death likely under all emissions pathways.
Now there is an urgent need for further research and delivery of effective adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures.