ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary body was briefed on Friday that the country witnessed a 300pc increase in glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) incidents besides rising sea levels that were threatening cities such as Thatta, Badin and Karachi in just one year.

The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change was held under the chairperson of Senator Seemi Ezdi. It was attended by Senators Khalida Ateeb, Keshoo Bai, Abida Mohammad Azeem, Taj Haider, Kamran Michael and senior officers from the Ministry of Climate Change along with its attached departments and agencies. Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman was also present.

During the briefing, issues taken up entailed preparations of the ministry for the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) of the UN and the Living Indus Initiative.

The committee was informed about the major issues that the Ministry of Climate Change would bring to the table at COP27 in the context of drastic effects of climate change in Pakistan. It was asserted that Pakistan in the last two decades had witnessed 152 extreme climatic events that had led to an increase in food insecurity.

The members learnt that the World Bank had estimated Pakistan’s losses from the recent floods at $40 billion. In the wake of the pledges made during previous COP26, Pakistan was in the frontline for advocacy for climate finance essential for any progress on environment and climate issues, the meeting was told.

Ministry officials said Pakistan was suggesting for the development of a transparent mechanism clearly defining climate finance needs and encouraging simplified procedures for its access.

Forums for advocacy would include high level round-tables with the prime minister, bilateral engagements at the ministerial levels and negotiations on eight dedicated streams.

Deliberating over the Living Indus Initiative, the committee was informed that the Indus, which supported life for the past 5,000 years, in the next 100 years might not be able to do so due to drastic climate, and steps were required to be taken immediately.

“Challenges faced by the Indus are the degrading ecosystem of the basin and unchecked pollution. Poor planning and inadequate mechanism of finance for projects are other factors that have contributed to the deterioration of the basin. The United Nations has assisted the Ministry of Climate Change to prepare a report on River Indus to develop a comprehensive strategy its restoration as a living river,” added an official from the climate change ministry.

The committee while questioning measures taken to preserve the Indus delta recommended alternative options and stressed the need for prompt and timely funding.

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2022

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