Record-Breaking Heatwave

A new heatwave is currently underway in different cities and villages across the country this week, with daytime temperatures hovering six to eight degrees above normal. In some parts of the country, temperatures are expected to go up to 50 degrees Celsius—which would have been inconceivable a few years ago at this time of the year.
As a result of prolonged drought and increase in the intensity of heat, aquifers, standing crops, vegetables and orchards are at risk of water shortage. Of course, this heatwave will affect the rural and disadvantaged communities the most as they lack access to air-conditioning. On top of that, energy shortages across the country means that a lot of people will not even have a working fan at their house.
It has become a mere catch phrase to state that Pakistan is extremely vulnerable to climate change, but there is little being done in terms of actions that convey the urgency of the situation. The torrid heatwave hitting major parts of the country this week is yet another stark reminder that Pakistan is on the frontlines of climate change. The signs have been there for a while, however. From the melting of glaciers to low agricultural yield and stressed mangroves, it is evident that we cannot continue patting ourselves on the back for doing the bare minimum such as planting trees.
What we require is a radical overhaul of how we perceive the issue of climate change and approach it going forward. Pakistan remains highly vulnerable to slow onset disasters owing to poor data, administrative incapability and malgovernance. Recent disaster responses show an urgent need to operationalise adaptation plans that match needs on ground, not just expectations at international climate forums.
For Pakistan, climate compatible development is not a luxury but a necessity. What we require is a sustained effort that transcends election cycles and political divides because governments will come and go but climate change is here to stay.
With a new government coming in and a capable Climate Minister in charge, now is the time to re-evaluate our strategy and make significant structural adjustments to our policies if we are to cope with the challenges of climate change. While we have made some progress in terms of implementing mitigation measures, we are far behind the curve in terms of adaptation and planning for the future effects of climate change. Currently, we are still in the process of formulating a National Adaptation Plan (NAP), so there is still a lot to do before we can implement any required urgent policy measures. Of course, financing is an issue, and the government must divert more resources toward adaptation from the national pool instead of a heavy reliance on multilateral funds. We do not have the luxury to wait around or moan about how other countries need to do more.

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