Experts warn of looming climate change impacts in country

ISLAMABAD – Experts at a webinar on Sunday have warned that climatic changes are expected to have wide-ranging impacts such as reduced agricultural productivity, increased variability of water availability, increased coastal erosion, sea water incursion and increased frequency of extreme climatic events in Pakistan.
A webinar organised by Pakistan Humanitarian Forum provided a platform to leading environmentalists to share their thoughts about the grave environmental challenges being faced by Pakistan, said a news release.  Writer, scholar, environmentalist and former Senator Javed Jabbar, said that Pakistan would either face continuous drought or sudden heavy rainfall due to drastic climate changes and agriculture, which made Pakistan’s economy with 21 percent contribution to GDP and 45 percent absorption of the country’s labour force, would be the worst sufferer. 
“Climate change will affect it in two ways; heavy rains will destroy major crops like wheat, rice, sugar-cane, maize and cotton on one hand, and due to the changing pattern of annual weather, our farmers will be unable to predict properly annual rainfall, cold and heat,” Javed Jabbar said, adding that at times, there will be severe drought conditions and at times heavy rainfall and floods. 
Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute Abid Qayyum Sulehri said, “Unfortunately, we have no proper planning and infrastructure to cope with this kind of situation. Thus, global warming will result in less economic growth and abject poverty in rural parts of the country where 63 percent of the population lives. He said global warming will result in glacier melt.” 
He added that this would cause sea-level rise, landslides, avalanches, glacial lake outburst floods and coastal regions of Pakistan will be affected severely. 
He said the only strategy to mitigate the climate risk is the disaster risk reduction and developing focused strategies to reduce the impact and enabling resilient communities to deal with.
“Pakistan is in the most dangerous zone and exposed to severe impacts of climate change. The most worrisome of all is the fact that we have neither the sense nor any understanding of the looming threat and no effective planning to minimise its impact,” Abid Qayyum Sulehri said.  Pakistan is one of the five South countries that have the highest annual average number of people affected by the natural floods. The alluvial plains of the Indus River system formed as flood plains and remain vulnerable to recurrent flooding. It is high time to reaffirm the commitment at all levels and to stress more on enhancing the international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national action plans related to disaster risk reduction and to achieve the targets by 2030. Syed Shahid Kazmi, Country Coordinator, Pakistan Humanitarian Forum, Country Director CESVI Pakistan Farhan Ahmed Khan and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid representative Taheeni also spoke on the occasion.

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