The Conference of Parties (COP22) launched the Long-Term Climate Risk Index for the year 2017, listing Pakistan 7th on the list. This means that due to recurrent catastrophes, Pakistan’s vulnerability in the short term and long term is increasing and it may already be too late to protect our people from future natural disasters.

However, in a new attempt to counter the threat of climate change, the Ministry of Climate Change has involved itself in adopting an extensive strategy. This includes policy approaches and their implementation.

Prolonged droughts in Sindh and heatwaves in the rest of Pakistan already alarmed the population and policy makers. It required immediate action from the authorities to convert climate change measures into national policies, especially to allocate a significant amount of the budget to counter the threat of climate change.

Back in 2011, Pakistan ratified the Paris Climate Change Accord and created a national climate change policy. It outlined measures necessary to prepare for disasters and lower the risk of climate change. Minister of Climate Change, Mr Zahid Hamid, was appointed and by October 2016, all provincial governments finalised Provincial Action Plans (PAP).

These PAPs included plans to counter challenges of climate change to finalise priority, short term, midterm and long term projects to ensure a safe environment for all. All governments are meeting with the relevant stakeholders to introduce projects in different sectors to ensure implementation of the climate change policy. Mitigation of carbon emission and the adaption to climate change impacts have been giving priority in the implementation frameworks, but it remains to be seen if funds will be sustainable to make these policies a reality.

Already the Federal Government and Sindh government are refusing to fund a project to protect the Manchar Lake area from waterlogging and salinity. Protection against climate change does not result in immediate payoffs, and thus governments are loath to look at these projects favourably. Yet the figures speak loud and clear. As many as 1,029 people have been killed by flash floods in monsoon seasons in the last three years across the country, around 1,297 people were injured and 4.5 million affected. The government has started to make efforts, but they must be sustainable, and not just a façade to appear to be doing something about climate change. The environmental risk we face will affect the livelihoods of millions of people. Our largest sector is still agriculture, and it will be wiped out by rapid deforestation, desertification of our deltas and rising water scarcity.