Global Climate Change and its Implications for Pakistan
May 08, 2019
“Water is to adaption what carbon is to mitigation. The frontline issues are mostly about water and for a country like Pakistan, which depends solely on water, climate is not a future issue but a current issue.” This was stated by Dr. Adil Najam, Dean, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, during his address at a Public Talk on Global Climate Change and its Implications for Pakistan, organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), today under its Distinguished Lecture Series. The event was attended by policy makers, diplomats, academics and students.
Dr. Adil Najam started off by talking about the age of adaption. He said that vulnerability is inversely proportional to how much countries contribute. Even though a number of developing countries have taken the lead, but in many ways, most have stepped back. Institutional failures of any sort cause disruptions in the social fabric of a country. Cognizance is required that nature will not be a silent spectator. We have passed the age of mitigation and have landed in the age of adaptation he said. Countries which are emitting the most of carbon waste are those which are least affected by the effects of climate change – almost 80 per cent of the wealth of the world lies with the 20 per cent of the world’s population. Pakistan is in its 10th consecutive year of flood and 4th consecutive year of drought. However, these things do not make headlines anymore. Climate change is a global phenomenon which needs to be dealt in a wholesome manner as everyone is affected by its fallout. If water is the frontline issue, then automatically, food is a key issue as well. Mobility is also one of the issues related to this as is infrastructure – a lot of problems can be solved by proper infrastructure in buildings.
Dr. Najam spoke about climate and security, one of the dimensions of which is violence. At the state level, it is clear that insecurity is shown as war. However, there is also insecurity at the societal level as well, which is why the number of civil violence deaths have been eight times more than those caused by war. Pakistan is a country that is totally defined by climate which is changing rapidly. The Attabad lake is a prime example of climate change for Pakistan. Dr. Najam pointed out that the world is moving towards loss and damage because of sheer negligence.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, said that the so-called traditional security discourse, while critically important, is also incomplete. To ignore non-traditional dimensions of security is, in fact, to make the modern state less secure, including on national security. Pakistan is one of the countries at great risk of the impacts of climate change. For Pakistan, water scarcity is one of the biggest security challenges arising out of the climate change issue. It is an existential threat. It is no longer long-term; it is immediate-term. It may even be as big or bigger than any inter-state threat we have from our very hostile neighborhood. What we need is urgent action, he said.
While giving the concluding remarks, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BOG, ISSI, stated that there is now a growing awareness of the effects of climate change. Ignoring the impacts of climate change is no longer a luxury that any country can afford, least of all, Pakistan. In order to meet the challenges, the country will first have to learn how to negotiate through these challenges, and follow words with actions. Pakistan has to increase efforts in the context of common but differentiated responsibilities to reduce domestic emissions from all sectors. At the same time, the government should assess and identify local communities most affected and develop national and local adaptation strategies on how to deal with the impacts, relying on international support to do this. One example is through the Green Climate Fund, he concluded.