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Saturday October 01, 2022

Climate change a matter of national security: Sherry

By Our Correspondent
May 13, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman has said the climate change is a matter of national security. It acts as a threat multiplier, potentially amplifying the existing risks of extreme vulnerability and exposure to intense competition over depleting resources.

A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change was held here on Thursday with Seemi Ezdi in the chair. It was attended by Khalida Ateeb, Keshoo Bai, Taj Haider and senior officers of the Ministry of Climate Change along with its attached departments and agencies. Sherry Rehman was also present in the meeting.

The issues taken up entailed the Shispher Glacier Hassanabad tragedy; ensuing climate change threats and preparedness to tackle the latest spate of heatwaves in the country. During a discussion on major challenges of recent heatwave incidents, the committee was informed that deforestation, lack of greenery and open spaces and unplanned urbanization played a major role in the acceleration of climate change effects associated with the recent spate of heatwaves in the country. The committee stressed the need to curtail methane gas losses that contribute greatly to the heat in the environment.

Sherry said the scarcity of water is a real danger, particularly to lower riparian areas like Sindh, where the river is almost dry by the time it reaches the upper Sindh. “The heatwave spanning the whole country is now registering its ferocity in multiple trend lines that pose risks for the population, particularly communities on subsistence daily wages in the cities or farmland populations.”

She said the impacts of this crisis are stretching from rice plants that have attained maturity but don’t have grains, and there are concerns that wheat will follow suit. “Pakistan is now importing wheat, sugar and rice in large proportions and many are at risk of growing food insecurity,” she said and added the climate stress is also impacting Pakistan economically in a calculus of losses which are predicted at 6-8 per cent of Pakistan’s GDP.

The federal minister said: “It is clear to us at the ministry that we will have to move forward with better adaptation plans. We cannot make policies and NDCs for the sole objective of foreign conferences, and exclude them in local adaptation plans.” She said people have to make lifestyle changes and the county needs to plan for more extreme weather events that will destabilise not just the economy but people’s lives, public health and fragility. She continued that the collapse of a bridge after the Shispher outburst was entirely expected, and it is important to brace for other such events. She said rescue and relief agencies have been altered again as KP and GB have 3,044 glacial lakes, with 33 such lakes being high risk.

She said Pakistan is currently experiencing a series of heatwaves as a result of global climate inaction and the lack of global commitments to pledges made to reduce greenhouse gases. She stressed the need for a thorough investigation into the Shispher matter. “An assessment must be made of existing infrastructure in the GB area with a particular focus on bridges. It could be a combined effort by the NDMA and the NHA.”

Earlier, the meeting commenced with a briefing by the national project manager, GLOF2 in Pakistan, it was revealed that the missing oversight by relevant departments and non-functional AWS in other valleys from GLOF-I are resulting in disasters at more locations. This, it was asserted, left no margin for timely interventions. In addition to this, procurement and bidding delays for project activities were termed major hurdles due to which the construction window was lost.

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