KARACHI: The Global Climate Risk Index’s latest report has placed Pakistan on the fifth spot on the list of countries, which remained most affected by climate change during the past two decades.

According to the Global Climate Risk Index annual report for 2020, which was released by think tank Germanwatch on Wednesday, Pakistan lost 9,989 lives, suffered economic losses worth $3.8 billion and witnessed 152 extreme weather events from 1999 to 2018.

Based on this data, the think tank concluded that Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change is increasing.

The data also indicates that the government, as well as the world, are not taking enough measures to cope with the challenges and risks that climate change poses to Pakistan, experts say, according to a report on Dawn.com.

PM’s aide says country’s economy is constantly at risk from climate catastrophes

The report mentioned Pakistan among the countries that were “recurrently affected by catastrophes [and] continuously rank among the most affected countries both in the long-term index and in the index for the respective year”.

The 10 countries most affected by climate change mentioned in the list are: Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Haiti, Philippines, Pakistan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand, Nepal and Dominica.

Location, lack of action

One of the reasons for Pakistan to be continuously ranked high in the long-term index of the report is mainly due to its geographical location.

According to David Eckstein, one of the co-authors of the report, “the entire region where Pakistan is located is prone to extreme weather events, in particular, heavy rainfalls e.g. during monsoon season, and floodings as a result”.

While commenting on Pakistan’s ranking in the 2020 report, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam Khan said: “Our ranking over the long-term index went up from eight to fifth because the period used amplifies our most climate catastrophic events in 2010/2011 when the super floods hit [the country].

“In terms of economic costs at $3.8 billion, we are number three over a 20-year period. What this means is that our economy is constantly at risk from climate catastrophes and this is not just an environmental challenge but an issue impacting our economy, human health, agriculture and ecosystem.”

Dean of Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, Dr Adil Najam blames the lack of action taken to combat climate change risks.

“The report clearly indicates that the world hasn’t acted, so the vulnerability of the whole world is increasing, and since Pakistan hasn’t acted, things are worsening for us too,” he said.

About the threat of rapidly melting glaciers that resulted into Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in Pakistan, Dr Najam said: “If we don’t do anything, we should not expect anything to change or become better. The glaciers won’t stop melting because there was a beautiful speech.”

He was referring to a recent speech by Prime Minister Imran Khan at the seventh International Union for Conservation of Nature Asia Regional Conservation Forum, where the premier had highlighted the dangers Pakistan faced by climate change, while recounting measures his government had taken to curb the impact.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2019