HEC chairman for integrated approach to deal with climate change

Islamabad: Chairman Higher Education Commission Dr Tariq Banuri has called for an integrated approach to deal with the problem of climate change.

Dr Banuri, who is an expert on sustainable development and climate change, was delivering a lecture on ‘Climate Change and its Implications for National Security’ at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) Islamabad.

He regretted that the current national policy on climate change and the strategy for its implementation were weak, inconsistent, incoherent, and reactive. The policy, he observed, looks to be a “long list of un-prioritized measures and agencies” and without any “rationale and targets”. He said it was not surprising, because of these policy weaknesses, that targets were not met.

“Pakistan Climate Change Act recognizes the (policy) failure and tries to overcome the weak structures,” he said, but cautioned that it was futile to expect a “weak and inconsequential institution” to contribute to creation of a “stronger one”.

He regretted that the tacit objective behind all actions on Climate Change in the country in the past was to get hold of foreign aid. “That was the only purpose of making this policy. There was no interest of doing anything about Climate Change,” he maintained and added that those who ran the policy even failed to attract those dollars they had been looking for.

Dr Banuri, however, pointed out that measures like billion tree tsunami, mass transit system, improving public health and creation of National Disaster Management Authority and Meteorological Department helped with attending to the impact of Climate Change. He noted that these steps were originally taken for other reasons and not for tackling Climate Change. He called it “unconscious policy implementation”.

In a reminder of the seriousness of the situation, he said, Global Climate Risk Index 2018 by German Watch, a Bonn based research institute that studies Climate Change, had rated Pakistan among top 10 countries most affected by climate change. He warned that the projected temperature rise for Pakistan in 21st century was 1 °C higher than global average of about 1.4 °C– 4.6 °C. He said northern parts of the country would be affected more by the Climate Change than the southern parts.

He recalled that, over the past two decades, there has been a significant increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather changes in Pakistan causing floods, droughts, heatwaves, cyclones due to increased monsoon variability and sea level rise.

Dr Banuri also spoke about the effects of climate change on state’s national goals/objectives. He emphasized that climate change directly affects national goals such as its  economic development, eradication of poverty, security and sovereignty.

The climate change has / can cause water scarcity, food insecurity, floods, draughts, mass migrations etc. He pointed out that water insecurity would be a major cause of conflict in local, regional, and international disputes in the near future.