By Shabbir Hussain
ISLAMABAD, Aug 26 (Diplomatic Star): The global actions against devastating climate change impacts are going to be discussed this year at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, COP27 aimed to seek nature-based solutions and proposed steps to cop climate future impacts.
The COP27 is a wonderful platform to understand what are the reasons of ever-increasing climate impacts, besides providing an opportunity to the world gathered under one roof, particularly those countries which are more prone for climate impacts and have a chance to discuss climate solutions and a way forward to combat its devastating effects.
The event would help to create more awareness amongst masses about climate impacts, besides it helped to sensitizing the public leaders, government and none government official, journalists towards promoting responsible thoughts and reporting on the impacts of climate change.
World is tackling the issues of urban Sustainability and climate change impacts which a one can say is none traditional security threat for future generations, particularly for Pakistan because its fast-growing population, unplanned cities and its industrial real-estate boom consuming Agri-land so rapidly.
For journalists, the COP27 would be centered around building the technical knowledge and skills to promote responsible and inclusive reporting on the way climate change is playing out locally.
Climate action is an ongoing process, not an event, and it requires extraordinary collaboration that would provide a critical opportunity for business and government leaders to double down on their climate goals, forge new collaborations, and achieve innovative solutions—together.
It is unfortunate, like many other developing countries, Pakistan is also confronted with the monster challenge of deforestation and climate change where about 27,000 hectares forests are being vanished per year due to excessive demands for wood, socioeconomic imbalances and weather’s vulnerability.
Secondly, the country experiencing real-estate boom damaging its climate because its fast-growing population, unplanned cities and its industrial areas are consuming Agri-land so rapidly. Which is wake up call for Pakistan and its government to take action and address this serious climate issue.
Since climate change is a global phenomenon with cross boundary effects none of the countries on earth is secure from its disastrous consequences.
According to National Forest Policy 2015, Pakistan has only five percent area under forests against 25 percent as per international requirement, which is losing about 27,000 hectares forests per year mostly in community and private owned lands due to climate change susceptibility, encroachment and high population growth.
The policy further revealed that forests in private and community lands in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan are also under tremendous pressures due to climate change and population explosion.
“Pakistan is highly vulnerable to climate change due to its geographical placement, deforestation and highest population growing at two percent rate annually,” said Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, Deputy Project Director, 10 billion trees afforestation project (10BTAP) while talking to a group of environmental journalists.
He said the negative effects of climate change and deforestation could be seen during recent snowfall storm in Murree where 22 people had lost battle for lives besides worst drought conditions during 1999-2003, devastation of 2010 floods, formation of glacial lakes in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan and cyclones on coasts of Karachi and Gwadar in 2008.
While talking cognizance of deforestation and climate change vulnerabilities, he said the previous PTI Government had devised a Green Growth Initiative (GGI) with main focus on forestry, protected areas, national parks, clean energy, climate resilience, sanitation and water management.
Subsequently, he said Billion Trees Afforestation Project (BTAP) was launched in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in November 2014 under which a record of 1.208 billion saplings were raised with an estimated cost of Rs14.363 billion against the approved cost of Rs19.44 billion, thus Rs5.077 billion was saved for the Government kitty.
The illegal cutting of centuries-old trees in various parts of Baluchistan is damaging the eco-system and required the urgent attention of the quarters concerned to stop this environmentally damaging practice.
During the winter season in Balochistan, locals cut down centuries-old trees for firewood including Juniper, Palos, Olive trees that were among the rare and endangered species of plants.
The truck-loads of wood were also carried to other parts of the province for sale. The forest department has given freehand for the trees cutting by collecting forest tax.”
Since climate change is a global phenomenon with cross boundary effects none of the countries on earth is secure from its disastrous consequences. Therefore, the international community opts for measures off and on to mitigate its impact and had approved US$ 7.2 billion Green Climate Fund for year 2020 to promote adaptation and mitigation mechanisms.
But despite climate change motivated natural disasters, Pakistan has managed to get only US$122 million through intermediary funding provided by United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for three projects.
According to an official document of the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC), the country has so far availed funding for one project from Adaptation Fund, three from GCF and completed 15 projects from Global Environment Fund (GEF). However, it has not yet accessed Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), major bilateral climate funds, or facilities except for one project from Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA).
“Pakistan’s recent and new World Bank commitments had the highest 17 contributions of climate co-benefits (CCBs) that reached 44% in Fiscal Year 2021 (up from 34% in Fiscal Year 2020), and is the highest in South Asia’s World Bank portfolio and among the highest in the world,” the document reported.
Therefore, I am so passionate to discuss the issue of deforestation and real-estate industry impacting adversely on Pakistan’s climate and what are the other possible nature-based solutions to combat this climate change.
Currently, Pakistan is facing increasing intensity of extreme weather events such as: heat waves, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones, aggravating water management problems.