Climate Change: A Disaster for Pakistan

by Muhammad Saeed

Climate change is the most grave threat to the planet in the history of mankind. The warming of the climate at a global level is undeniable now and its effects have already started appearing in the form of longer droughts, higher temperatures and changes in the season schedule.

One of the greatest pressures exerted on climate is by GHGs (greenhouse gases) which are critical to survival on Earth in moderation and lethal in excess. While Pakistan is at the 135th number in terms of emissions (with half of them being from the energy sector) and produces just 0.8% of the global GHGs emissions, we are still at risk because of the interconnected nature of the issue.

Agriculture, which constitutes the largest sector of Pakistan’s economy, is climate sensitive. It contributes about 24% of the total GDP (gross domestic product) and the majority of the population is attached with it directly or circuitously. Due to high population there is already a stress on land and there has been a severe degradation of natural resources.

707: The number of disasters in Pakistan per year, twice as much as in the 1990s

Furthermore, large swathes of soil in Pakistan are being subjected to land degradation because of the following factors: water erosion (17%), wind erosion (8%), and salinity (9%). According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO), about 986,000 hectares standing crops were adversely affected by the 2014 monsoon rains. Further, the irrigation system is more acutely affected over flooding and intensive rain during summer.

Consequently, the number of disasters in Pakistan is 707 a year, twice as much as in the 1990s. Pakistani rivers are mainly dominated by the Hindu Kush, Himalaya, and Karakorum mountain ranges. Due to rise in temperatures, the glacier of Siachen lost its 17% ice mass. Due to high points of melting water flows – since Pakistan does not have enough infrastructure to manage such water – this creates disaster in the most populated and agriculture dependent province of the country, Punjab.

In summer 2010, according to governmental data, 20 million people were directly affected by the flood, making it the most disastrous flood in the history of Pakistan. Additionally, the Public building damage was about 1 billion USD, and the flood covered the whole landmass till the Indus Basin end. Worryingly, the temperature range of 1960 to 2007 was 0.24 degrees per decade globally, which is high enough to increase the temperatures in Pakistani territory about 2 to 3 Degree Celsius within the next few years.

Global temperature increase of 0.24 Celsius degrees per decade is high enough to increase the temperatures in Pakistan by 2-3 degrees Celsius

Climate change also affects economies and developmental growth of countries. According to the Climate Risk Index from 1991 to 2011, Pakistan lost 2,183.10 million USD, and the GDP was slowed down at a rate of 0.73. It is thus a great sign of worry for the leadership in Pakistan to lose such capital and suffer developmental decline, since we are a developing state. Growing use of fossil fuels in the energy sector and transport, rapid industrialization, and deforestation are also matters of concern for Pakistanis.

According to conservative estimates from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and World Bank, the cost of environmental and and natural resources damage exceeds one billion rupees per day in Pakistan. Rise in sea level, coastal erosion, and heat-waves are also contributing aspects in this dilemma of demolition. The National Climate Policy was introduced in 2013, but was duly shelved afterwards.

It is now a global consensus that development has to be sustainable and renewable resources should be used in place of non-renewable resources to compete in this world society. To maintain a healthy living environment in the country, there has to be a climate adaptation strategy, proper infrastructure, and a superlative irrigation system to get healthy green-lands again in Pakistan.


  • Abu Zaid

    Few points I would like to add.

    1. Government can shift their policy of producing Electricity from Fossil fuels to Hydro and Solar. May cost more in short term, but will be cheaper in longer term if we add costs that will incur due to Climate Change.

    2. Discourage Mega Projects near big Cities. Bahria and DHA have create huge grounds near Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, pretty much wiping out Greenery and Sands/earth. When converted to Concrete and Asphalt, they become natural Repositories of Storing heat. This in the longer term does cause Heat waves. Encourage high towers for cheaper and more economical housing.

    3. Completely ban conversion of Forest and Agriculture land to anything else. A major source of loss of Greenery and increase in Carbon dioxide in air.

    • Capt.

      Completely Agreed With You Sir But I Can See Noone CARES Everyone Is Busy Making Their Lives And Money

  • Ali Ahmad khan

    Just one comment.Well that is more than i had expected.Had this been some article about some Q mobile’s ad(Wow it’s go 63 comments) or about Rehman Malik i am sure there would have been many, many comments and shares.No nation is as unconcerned about the environment as we are.And that is the biggest issue that we have.Maybe the title of the Article should be modified to “Ignorance of Environmental Issues :A Disaster for Pakistan”.
    And to writer thank you!. We need that.

    • Muhammad Aamir

      According to the new research, negative news gives more impression and traffic. If you see on Propakistani, you will always see a negative news story gains more comments. Don’t Be Worry! It’s natural!! I really feel the same!

      • Ali Ahmad khan

        Yes, i agree that negative stories get noticed more, that you can say is human nature,psyche.
        What i am saying is, environmental issues are of least significance in our eyes while other nations give great importance to these issues.

  • Rizwan Shakir

    The governments here haven’t taken this matter serious at all. Instead they are promoting use of fossil fuels. Like you are not developing public transport system. instead ur main focus is on building Metro’s (for specific routes n class) for political gains. Railway system should be developed as it is a mass carrier worldwide excluding Pakistan. It is on no one’s priority. Just look at the growing no. of personal vehicles being registered every day. they are all adding to fuel consumption and atmosphere polluting. But, it is not government’s priority to look at these………….If there is a strong, efficient and effective public transport system, use of individual vehicles can be discouraged……..But there is no transport planning as of now. just Adhoc Culture here, everywhere.

  • Khan

    Is mien sariya nahi lagta is liye gullu Butt wont focus on it.

  • Guy Chauhan

    unplanned development and flocking of people in cities is bound to create a catastrophe. People really have no awareness about deforestation and how the cities are being flocked by people, overcrowding the city. there’s no monitoring of it and i don’t believe that they even have any idea, the govt. i tell you the country is going commercial crazy and there’s bound to be an apocalypse..

  • hopeful

    Ban new housing projects.
    Heavily fine car drivers driving alone on highways or major/arterial roads. Before that, make public transport system considerably better.
    Take over empty residential plots after giving a 5 year warning.
    Instead of b.s. solar shit parks, subsidize costs for residential solar setups. The smaller the house, the more the subsidy.
    Warn factories which emit solid/liquid/gaseous waste. Ban them after 5 years.
    Discourage use of plastics. Ban plastic bags and all that nonsense. Go after sellers of these materials. Increase taxes on plastic raw material 300% and remove any form of tax/levy on recyclable material.
    5 year unbailable imprisonment for driver of an environmentally unfit vehicle. 10 year for those issued it fitness certificate.
    Death panelty for those who sign adultered/wrong environment impact studies for big infrastructure projects. That will take care of a certain laadla whose vision of progress is narrowed to bricks and mortar and steel.

  • Hamid raza

    Completely agreed and Govt is making coal plants in green land of sahiwal

  • Mohammad Baig

    These fact finding reports on climate change and related warnings will not impact on the health of the ministry of the environment, their related DGs having worth billions of funding because they have least time to see such things. They are busy in minting by conducting seminars,conferences,international tours,conferences but just for lyllabying the nation.
    What they have done so far except utilizing of the funds and loading their paper files perhaps they have nothing to tell the nation. All major cities have been converted into the filth depots with an increase of millions of patients ready to dying because of negligence and corruption of these institutions.These institutions are never accountable nor answerable to any body.