GLOFs, heat waves & droughts to get worse sans climate action: Sherry Rehman


Islamabad: Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman this week warned that Pakistan was in the grip of recurring heat waves as a result of global climate inaction and lack of commitments to pledges made to reduce greenhouse gasses.

“Policies need to be prioritized and benchmarked transparently and equitably. We are clearly in a race against time to save our soil, water, air and population, since Pakistan is particularly vulnerable, despite being one of the ten most vulnerable countries in the world. There is a high possibility of recurring heatwaves in Lahore, Karachi and other parts of the country which has entered summer without a spring”, the Minister said in a news release.

When temperatures soar, she said the citizens were urged to exercise caution when leaving their houses during peak heat hours from 1 pm to 4 pm. “It is important that people ensure adequate coverage when going out in the heat. Full sleeves and light coloured clothing will help combat the risk of heatstrokes and other heat-related illnesses. A reusable water bottle filled with cold water or rehydrating salts should also be kept when going out in the heat.”

She further stated, “Plantation and preservation of forests is an obvious necessity for carbon capture and reduction of degradation of the environment. However, it is not, nor can be the core public policy on climate change. This is especially true for an acutely water-stressed, and climate-stressed country like Pakistan. We currently face a severe scarcity issue, coupled with distribution challenges amongst the provinces, and the UN has reported that by 2025 the country will become water-scarce. This is a near-future reality which will have serious impacts on food security; which is already in crisis for Pakistan. Pakistan needs urgent awareness and I believe one of the ways forward to combat climate denialism is for a policy ministry like Climate Change to constantly message behaviour change and conservation of resources all the way from government and communities. Given the level of multiple climate crises and extreme weather emergencies, it is imperative that policymakers are at least made aware of the scale of the task. Right now the country has not been educated on the scale of the climate emergency that Pakistan faces. Our research, too, is lacking when it comes to fully understanding how climate change and our current CC policies impact us. Additionally, the country is in dire need of policy coherence; and for the implementation of the Climate Council which the cornerstone of its institutional mechanism. We have been trying to look at all the different climate crises challenging sustainable human development, food and water security, as well as air quality in Pakistan. It is clear to us that the country certainly needs to fight for climate justice at multilateral forums and platforms because our emissions account for less than 1% of global emissions yet we are greatly impacted. We also have a ton of work to do at home and climate change is not a light switch to throw by acting now. Even acting now will not bring warming down in one region or country. But if we move forward with prioritizing cleaner air, energy transitions, reducing water and marine pollution, changing the way we farm, greening our cities as well as a public will to save dwindling resources, we will at least reduce a higher carbon footprint and prevent catastrophe.”

She concluded, “The fact that we contribute less than 1% yet we have continuously been ranked 5th in the list of countries most affected by the effects of climate change is evidence that Climate Change is a global problem and that all countries around the globe must work together to tackle climate change. Our developed friends must remember it is global pollution we are paying for and it is not possible to tackle the turbulent times ahead without their financial assistance. And as a nation, we need to shift focus to transparency, data generation and other actions such as energy transitions. But those won’t happen if we don’t mainstream climate change as part of the public policy agenda. People must be made aware, whatever the reason, that our climate challenges need to be openly aired so the public understands the extreme weather events that we are facing are not random. They are a result of global warming, from man-made activities which have disturbed the earth’s natural biodiversity and patters of regeneration. Expecting change overnight is a pipe dream at this point, but climate action is collectively needed. It is needed here and now. The GLOFs and flash floods and heat waves and droughts are going to get worse if we don’t take climate stress seriously both at home and abroad.”