ISLAMABAD: The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have jointly prepared a climate risk profile of Pakistan, which projects an increase in the number of people affected by flooding, with a likely increase of around 5 million people exposed to extreme river floods by 2035-44.

According to the profile, there could be a potential increase of around 1m people annually exposed to coastal flooding by 2070-2100. Pakistan faces rates of warming considerably above the global average with a potential rise of 1.3 to 3.9 centigrade by the 2900s over the 1986-2005 baseline.

The range in possible temperature rises highlights the significant differences between 21st century emissions pathways. Rise in the annual maximum and minimum temperature is projected to be stronger than the rise in average temperature, likely amplifying the pressure on human health, livelihoods and ecosystems.

Temperature increases likely to affect urban dwellers, outdoor labourers

Changes to Pakistan’s rainfall and runoff regimes, and hence its water resources, are highly uncertain, but an increase in the incidence of drought conditions is likely. The frequency and intensity of extreme climate events is projected to increase, increasing disaster risk particularly for vulnerable poor and minority groups. Temperature increases are likely to place strain on urban dwellers and outdoor labourers, with increased risk of heat-related sickness and death likely under all emissions pathways.

Projections further suggest yield declines in many key food and cash crops, including cotton, wheat, sugarcane, maize and rice. The impact of extreme climate events on the agricultural sector in Pakistan can be very significant, raising concerns regarding any increase in their frequency attributed to climate change. Floods inundate fertile land, kill livestock, destroy standing crops, and reduce or eliminate yields.

The unusually large rainfall from the 2010 monsoon caused the most catastrophic flooding in Pakistan’s history, flooding one-fifth of the country, affecting 20m people, and claiming over 2,000 lives.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2021

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