Development and climate

Published October 31, 2021

THE link between climate change and development is no longer indirect. Over the years, Pakistan’s increased vulnerability to global warming has seen natural disasters such as floods and droughts occur more regularly. These, in turn, have incurred a substantial loss of life and property, besides reversing development gains in the country. A recent World Bank report describes not corruption, incompetence or state negligence but climate change as the biggest challenge for development in Pakistan. South Asia Climate Change Action Plan 2021-25 states that the quality of life in Pakistan is set to decline by 4pc to 5pc by 2030. This is mainly due to our increased vulnerability to natural disasters that are a consequence of global warming. The report estimates that since 2010 droughts, floods, cyclones and earthquakes have cost the country more than $14bn, ending up reversing development gains of the past 15 years. It is stated that 49m people reside in high-risk areas where their health and well-being are directly affected by water scarcity, disease outbreak and water and food insecurity.

With Pakistan being the fastest urbanising country in South Asia, according to the report, the damage is amplified. Unplanned development in the face of surging urban populations and the emerging challenges of waste disposal and water supply and drainage, are compromising the country’s resilience to extreme weather events. Moreover, the report also advises Pakistan to reform its energy sector where carbon emissions are predicted to increase by at least 380pc between 2015 and 2030. Though the government has pledged to significantly curtail its carbon emissions, its current policies indicate the opposite. The same is true for other sectors such as construction, agriculture and water security and distribution where the government still appears to be following outdated methods, worsening the country’s vulnerability to climate change and curtailing opportunities for development. The authorities need to do more than just pay lip service to the goal of reducing the impact of climate change. The country’s survival depends on sincere action in this direction.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2021

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