LAHORE - The National Climate Change Policy framed in 2012 remains on papers only due to lack of seriousness on the part of the government to put in place a mechanism to ensure an effective coordination among relevant federal ministries and provinces for its implementation.

The government had established National Climate Change Division after devolution of environment to the provinces in 2010, but without assigning role of a watchdog to ensure that the federal departments and provinces are following guidelines to address the most important environmental issue threatening agriculture based economy of the country.

Resultantly, the Division lacked coordination with relevant ministries including Water and Power, Petroleum and Natural Resources and the federating units having no capacity to implement the policy on their own.

Like other developing countries, Pakistan, having overwhelming dependence on agriculture, is at a greater risk of facing the adverse impact of climate change in near future owing to unwise use of available resources especially water.

Though Pakistan is on 137th number and contributing only 0.47 per cent in global greenhouse gasses (GHGs) emissions, it is at huge risk of losing valuable agriculture yield due to fast depleting glaciers that will ultimately lead to reduced river flows. In addition to that, there is no check on pumping of excessive groundwater for agriculture, domestic and industrial use that is leading to fast drop in aquifer level in urbanised areas in particular and rural areas in general.

As Pakistan’s economy is based on agriculture only, there is necessity of key decisions to be taken at the governmental level and a collective endeavour by all parties involved in combating this grave problem.

“There is need of taking mitigation and adaptation measures simultaneously to face serious challenges of climate change in future. As Pakistan is contributing only 0.47 per cent in global GHGs emission, mitigation measures will make less significant difference. There is need of making efficient and judicious use of available resources in domestic, agriculture and industry sectors and their conservation for future needs. There is need of improving canal system, introduction of crops needing less water, sprinkle and drip technology in irrigation and building more reservoirs for storage of precious water going waste in sea every year”, said a climate change expert Saadullah Ayaz.

Experts have stressed the need of establishing a climate change unit in Agriculture Department, measures to reduce GHGs emissions and environmental pollution, developing new crop varieties and introduction of animal breeds adapted to changing conditions, immediate action to develop additional storages and regulate groundwater use to avoid damage to aquifer.

According to various researches, considerable increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events coupled with erratic monsoon rains is causing frequent and intense floods and droughts. Projected recession of the Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalayan (HKH) glaciers due to global warming and carbon soot deposits from trans-boundary pollution sources is threatening water inflows into the Indus River System (IRS).

Rising temperatures is resulting in enhanced heat and water-stressed conditions, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions, leading to reduced agricultural productivity. Further decrease in the already scanty forest cover, from too rapid change in climatic conditions is causing natural migration of adversely affected plant species. Increased intrusion of saline water in the Indus delta is adversely affecting coastal agriculture, mangroves and the breeding grounds of fish.

Social activists believe that in the absence of concrete measures by the government, it is now the responsibility of the development sector organisations to not only raise the awareness but also build the capacities of masses so as to enabling them for taking action in the right direction.

“We work to build the knowledge base, especially of the urban and rural youth around the concept, causes, impacts and solution of climate change and its associated issues. For the purpose, we are conducting a series of activities to generate a discourse and disseminate information, facts and knowledge at larger scales,” said Jamshaid Farid, an official of Indus Consortium, a non-governmental organisation working in South Punjab on the subject of climate change, food security and water governance.

“We are educating and informing masses by engaging them through out of the box activities. Theme-based drawing and essay writing competitions at district and national level, discourse events in universities to promote culture of discussion, inter-provincial exposure visits of youth groups, food and climate change fairs promoting indigenous food, crops, breeds, Sufi festivals to promote food security and peace linking to climate change are some of the activities we are conducting,” told Ashok Lilani, climate change campaign’s national coordinator.