Climate change is a global problem but unfortunately it is one that will affect our country the most. The Global Climate Risk Index 2018 report put Pakistan as the 7th most vulnerable country to climate change. Pakistan is getting recurrently affected from extreme weather events. The super floods of 2010 placed Pakistan on the top slot among the countries most affected by climate change as it lost US $25.3 billion and 5.4 per cent of the GDP. Most parts of our country are not stranger to scorching heat spells in summer months. However, temperature in Nawabshah was recorded above 50°C recently, which is the highest recorded April temperature anywhere on the planet ever since meteorological data began to be maintained. The development though expected (and predicted by the Met Office) is an eye opener for the policy makers. The little debate in mainstream media and power circles over something as serious as climate change is another matter of concern.
Weather experts say that record temperatures in Pakistan and deadly storms in India are an indication that more extreme weather events are happening globally owing to climate change. Amid flash-floods in the East and Horn of Africa and sand and dust storms in the Arabian Gulf, storms in northern India reportedly left more than 100 dead. The abnormally high temperature in Nawabshah is not a standalone weather phenomenon; rather it is linked to many other events last month that represent a cataclysmic sign as a result of climate change.
As far as steps taken by government to tackle the threat of climate change are concerned, the recent approval of the National Water Policy (NWP) is a welcome step. The policy acknowledges the need to adopt the NWP with an initial target of increasing storage capacity from existing 14 million acre feet (MAF) by immediately starting the construction of 6.4 MAF Diamer-Bhasha dam which had already been cleared by the CCI back in 2009. The policy aims at planning, regulating, developing, coordinating and managing water resources in the country. Managing water resources will become even more important in the coming years as affects of climate change tighten their grip on the country. However long term policy decisions and international support will be needed to ensure that damage from climate change related changes is minimized in Pakistan.