Pakistan’s Science-Policy Conference on Climate Change – The First & Foremost Endeavour.

by M. Wasim

The first Science-Policy Conference on Climate Change organized by the Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC) – a research wing of the Ministry of Climate Change – might serve as the first concrete dialogue in Pakistan where perils of Climate Change were taken seriously at official levels. Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi not only laid down the basic in-hand policies of the government to tackle this menace but also vowed that Pakistan remains committed to playing its role in global efforts for tackling the issue of Climate Change.

The PM seemed steadfast in his speech during inaugural session when stated “Climate Change has become one of the biggest challenges for mankind and has united all international community at one platform for action against its hazards.”

Pakistan ratified the Paris Agreement in 2015 and following the principles therein to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. Investment and international funding in reduction of Climate Change’ effects, however, is important being the global citizens.

Despite having only a 1% of greenhouse footprint, Pakistan is among the top 10 most affected countries on the Global Climate Risk Index (CRI, 2016), and currently faces a number of climate-related challenges, including rising temperatures, unpredictable changes in precipitation patterns, increased frequency and intensity of extreme health events, recurring droughts and floods, groundwater pollution, rising sea levels, potential for heightened conflicts over water rights between riparian regions, increased health risks due to changes in disease vectors, environmental degradation specially of water-related ecosystems, declining agricultural productivity, and governance issue associated with these stresses.

Mentioning the recent prevalence of smog in the Punjab, the PM rightly pointed out it should serve as an eye-opener to be more serious about the issue of environment.

The Science-Policy Conference on Climate Change provides an initial mapping of efforts being undertaken to alleviate the impacts of Climate Change, assessment of knowledge and capacity needs and priorities that better reflect the Pakistani development context, and a stimulating environment with the intention to yield innovative ideas and grounds for implementation.

The PM cited diverse efforts by Pakistan in this regard and told the delegates Pakistan has allocated 8% of its budget to fight the effects of Climate Change. Not only he informed that Pakistan had a zero import of furnace oil and running the related power houses on imported liquified natural gas but expressed confidence that the country will completely phase out furnace oil-based power generation in near future to mitigate oil’s negative fallout on climate. About clean energy he briefed that 50% of primary energy coming from gas and other 20% from hydropower and other resources.

Around 100 scientists from all over the world presented their research findings at the 3-day conference on Climate Change which is the first ever international event on the issue in the country hosted by the GCISC.

Other institutions that collaborate in the endeavor included the US Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies, the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, the University of UTH, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in South, the Higher Education Commission, the Pakistan Meteorological Department, National Disaster Management Authority and HBS.

The Conference highlights the need for improved climate-related research and information for Pakistan as well as help prepare policy recommendations to address Climate Change challenges affecting the country development, promote coordination among researchers and institutions working on different aspects of climate change in Pakistan and facilitate their collaboration with international scientists and experts engaged in research activities

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