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Saturday May 25, 2024

The climate threat

Rain on Sunday alone led to the deaths of 12 people – two in Balochistan, six in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and four in Punjab

By Editorial Board
April 17, 2024
A representational image showing people making their way through flood waters following heavy rains. — AFP/File
A representational image showing people making their way through flood waters following heavy rains. — AFP/File

Most Pakistanis may have forgotten the time when rainfall used to be a pleasant experience. Now, it brings chaos and anarchy. The current irregular rain patterns are a result of climate change, with the most recent spell of rains across Pakistan once again showing the irreversible and severe effects of climate change. Continuous heavy rains in the past few days have led to the deaths of at least 39 people across the country. Rain on Sunday alone led to the deaths of 12 people – two in Balochistan, six in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and four in Punjab. In Peshawar, rescue workers had to use inflatable boats to transfer people to safety. Besides this, these rains have caused huge infrastructural damage that may require weeks to repair. So, does this mayhem show the unpreparedness of the government? The answer is not that simple.

Ever since the disastrous 2020 rains, our provincial and federal governments have shown urgency to tackle the climate threat. In 2022, flash floods compelled the Ministry of Climate Change to make a strong case for global funding for the rehabilitation of the affected areas. However, the response of the international community has been unsatisfactory. Pakistan is not a major carbon polluter. It contributes just 1.0 per cent to the total amount of carbon emissions, but it is the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change. While there is no denying that Pakistani leaders need to change course and allocate more funds to climate mitigation efforts, rich nations must realize that their unchecked growth and development are hurting smaller and relatively poor countries that do not have enough funds to make climate-resilient cities for their people.

Heavy rainfall will likely be a big threat this year. On Tuesday (April 16), metro stations in Dubai were left flooded after the city received a heavy spell of rain. Infrastructural damages were also reported in other parts of the country. Developed countries have the advantage of reconstructing the broken infrastructure timely. Pakistan does not have this privilege. Also, most countries take precautionary measures to ensure that there are no casualties. Here, deaths are regarded as an unfortunate inevitability. Pakistani stakeholders also need to change their approach to climate change. Raising our voice for financial support from the international community is valid, but we must have Plan B to reconstruct our cities on our own. Public-private partnerships can play a vital role in making the country more climate-resilient. There is also a need for the people to do their part to help the government deal with the climate challenge. The excessive consumption of plastic, for example, has intensified the climate crisis across the world. We need plans B, C, and D to deal with this crisis.