Islamabad - Federal Minister for Climate Change Mushahid Ullah Khan on Saturday said that weather patterns in Pakistan are changing rapidly due to climate change, causing negative impacts on glaciers, river flows, underground water recharge systems, agriculture and overall biodiversity.

“However, efforts are being made at various levels in the light of policy recommendations proposed in the National Climate Change Policy of Pakistan to cope with the negative impacts,” the minister said.

Mushahid Ullah Khan said, “Depleting river flows, falling underground water level, shifting rainfall patterns, frequenting heat waves, droughts, sea intrusion, sea-level rise, shrinking winter months, expanding summer months and melting glaciers are all terrible indicators of how fast the climate of the country is changing.”

“We need to take corrective measures and work hard in collaboration with relevant government and non-governmental organisations on fast track basis for hammering out mitigation and adaptation plans to tackle the negative impacts of the climate change on different sectors of economy, particularly irrigated and rain-fed agriculture, which is mainstay of national economy,” he stressed.

The minister warned that global warming will exacerbate land degradation and desertification in the countries like Pakistan, where over 80 percent of the land mass is arid. The climate change is also likely to increasing water logging and salinity, increase incidence of insects, pests and diseases, he highlighted.

Suggesting measures, the federal minister for climate change said that developing and introducing regulatory mechanisms to manage and store summer water overflows and construction of new reservoirs of varying sizes is critical for making irrigated and rain-fed agriculture climate-resilient.

There is also serious need for encouraging farmers to adopt high irrigation efficiency systems, methods and techniques on farm, which will require policy interventions by government departments concerned including Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, he emphasised and added that introduction and promotion of short duration crop varieties for both summer and winter season crops, heat and moisture stress-resistant wheat, rice, maize, cotton, sugarcane, pulses and vegetable crop varieties are inevitable to ensure food security of the country.

It is a matter of serious concern that the country’s forest cover is fast shrinking because of deforestation and tree-cutting activities, which is leading to several imbalances ecologically and environmentally, Mushahid said.

He cautioned, “What makes deforestation alarming is the immediate and long-term effects it is bound to inflict on our environmental and waste our efforts to tackle global warming .”

Agricultural activities, logging, urbanisation, desertification of land, inadequate access to clean/renewable energy are among key causes of unchecked deforestation in the country, he counted and suggested, “However, agro-forestry, sustainable and environment-friendly urbanization, plantation of drought-tolerant tree species, increasing the people’s access to renewable energy for cocking, heating and bathing can help put brakes on deforestation/tree cutting and increase area under tree cover in the country.”