The Disproportionate Impact of Climate Change on Pakistan

Pakistan is one of the countries that is most affected by the global problem of climate change but least responsible for it.

The Disproportionate Impact of Climate Change on Pakistan

Climate change is a serious global problem that affects the lives of millions of people around the world. It causes the temperature to rise, the sea level to rise, the glaciers to melt, the weather to become more extreme, and the air to become more polluted.

These effects have different impacts on different countries, depending on their geographical location, economic development, and environmental policies. Some countries are more vulnerable to climate change than others, and some countries are more responsible for causing climate change than others.

Pakistan is one of the countries that is most affected by the global problem of climate change but least responsible for it. Pakistan contributes only 0.8% of the global greenhouse gas emissions but ranks fifth among the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Pakistan faces multiple challenges due to climate change, such as floods, droughts, heat waves, cyclones, landslides, and diseases. These challenges pose a threat to Pakistan’s food security, water security, energy security, health security, and economic security.

The 2022 floods claimed 1,739 lives, including 647 children. The floods also affected around 600,000 pregnant women in Pakistan, exposing them and their newborns to higher risks of complications, infections, and death. It also had devastating consequences for the economy, infrastructure, and people. According to the economic survey, the floods caused a total of $30.1 billion in damage and losses and required $16.3 billion for rehabilitation.

Housing, agriculture, and transport were the most affected sectors, with $5.6 billion, $3.7 billion, and $3.3 billion in damage, respectively. The recovery plan focuses on restoring these sectors, with transport being the top priority. Sindh suffered the most, with over $18 billion in damage and losses. The floods were triggered by heavy rains and melting glaciers, which are linked to climate change.

More than 33 million people were impacted by the floods, and over 1 million houses were ruined or damaged. The education sector also faced significant challenges, as over 18,000 schools were destroyed or damaged, mostly in Sindh. Around 3.5 million children, especially girls, are at risk of dropping out of school permanently due to the disruption caused by climate-related events.

Pakistan has not received adequate support from the international community to cope with the flood and its aftermath. The UNO recommended that Pakistan should receive $15 billion in grants for relief and recovery, but Pakistan only received $297 million in grants and $1.4 billion in loans. Most of the loans came with strict conditions and high interest rates, which added to Pakistan’s debt burden.

Pakistan needs more assistance from developed countries to deal with the effects of climate change and reduce its own emissions. The Paris Agreement, which was signed by 195 countries in 2015, aims to limit the global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

The agreement also recognises the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC), which means that developed countries should take the lead in reducing emissions and providing financial and technical support to developing countries.

According to the Paris Agreement, Pakistan has committed to reducing its emissions by 20% by 2030 compared to a business-as-usual scenario. However, this target is conditional on receiving international support in terms of finance, technology transfer, and capacity building.

Pakistan estimates that it needs $40 billion to achieve its target. Pakistan also plans to increase its share of renewable energy sources in its energy mix from 5% to 30% by 2030.

Pakistan is not alone in facing the challenges of climate change. Many other countries in Asia and Africa are also suffering from its impacts. Some of these countries are Chad, Iraq, Bahrain, and Bangladesh. These countries have also signed a charter with Pakistan to eliminate pollution by 2030.

The charter calls for cooperation among these countries in terms of sharing best practices, developing joint projects, and advocating for climate justice at the global level.

The global problem of climate change is a grave threat that requires urgent action from all stakeholders. Pakistan is doing its best to adapt to its effects and contribute to its mitigation.

However, Pakistan cannot do it alone. It needs more support from the developed countries that have caused most of the emissions. It also needs more solidarity from other developing countries that share similar problems. Together, we can make a difference for a better future.