ISLAMABAD: “Climate change poses a greater security threat than terrorism because it can affect temperatures, the environment, the economy and the future policies of the country. Moreover, 70 to 80 per cent of Pakistan’s water from glaciers, but in the next 30 to 40 years, there, may be no more water in the Indus River because the glaciers will have all melted.”

These remarks were made by Dr Qamaruzzaman Chaudhry, a former director general of the Met Office and vice president of the World Meteorological Organisation, during a presentation given to members of the Parliamentary Task Force on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), chaired by MNA Mariyam Aurangzeb.

Dr Chaudhry said that Pakistan was 135th among carbon emitting countries and contributed only 0.8 per cent to global carbon emissions. However, it is still included in the eight countries most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.

“Unfortunately in our country, no government has given priority to the issue, even though climate change is considered a major challenge at the global level,” he said.

Former Met chief says Pakistan very susceptible to changes in temperature, weather patterns; SDPI discussion encourages reforestation

“A considerable increase in intense floods, rains, extreme weather and other climatic changes has been noted in Pakistan. In the past the country saw well-distributed rains due, leading to the ripening of crops at the proper time. Now, temperature increases in the month of March cause ripening much earlier, reducing the yield of wheat and other crops,” he said.

He said that the world was using ‘adaptive’ or ‘mitigating’ measures to counter the challenges of climate change. Through mitigation, carbon emissions are reduced, but that is not an issue for Pakistan, he said. However, adaptive measures include steps that can decrease the effects of carbon emissions, such as reforestation.

“The US has agreed to a 26 to 28 per cent reduction in carbon emissions to below 2005 levels, by 2025. However, the EU says it will reduce its carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, bringing it back to 1990 levels,” he said.

He concluded that the easiest solution to arrest climate change was planting more trees.

Climate Change Division Director Irfan Tariq told the committee that climate change was both a threat and an opportunity.

“Pakistan is one of the few countries which have their own climate change policies. If we create awareness among the masses, that they can earn more by saving and planting the trees,” he said.

MNA Rana Afzal Khan said that although reforestation and climate change is primarily the responsibility of provincial governments, due to the importance of the issue, the federal government should take steps and resolve such problems, adding that most of the local industry did not even know about carbon credits.

SDPI discussion

Meanwhile, experts at a discussion organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) urged citizens to own their forests and prevent them from falling into the hands of the timber mafia.

Speaking at ‘Tackling Global Warming Through REED’, experts warned that if corrective steps were not taken, then country have to lose a large portion of its forested areas.

“Local communities must be mobilised to take ownership of the forests, without which little can be achieved on the ground,” said forestry official Tariq Nazir Chaudhary.

Inspector General (Forests) Syed Mahmood Nasir said that in order to save trees, the Ministry of Climate Change has signed an agreement with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to protect forest and trees.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2015

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