- Pakistan has already been affected
The Global Climate Risk Index for 2019 ranks Pakistan as the fifth worst sufferer from the effects of climate change. According to the Index, released by the think tank Germanwatch on Wednesday, Pakistan has lost 9989 lives, suffered economic losses of $3.8 billion, and witnessed 152 events from 1999 to 2018. It had a truism that Pakistan ranked high among the countries worst affected by climate change, with millions along its Arabian Sea coast, particularly in Karachi, to be forced to move upwards to inland havens, because of sea encroachment. Of course, it would not be the very worst affected, like the Maldives, which would sink beneath the rising sea. However, the future is here, it seems, for the climate change has been having effects now. People are dying, money is being lost, and weather events are accelerating which destroy infrastructure.
One problem is that Pakistan is located in a region prone to extreme weather events anyhow. While destabilised climate leads to more and greater events, they follow established patterns and thus tend to disguise that the results of climate change are already beginning to hurt. A case in point would be the disastrous super floods of 2010/2011. Floods occur every year, so what if they were worse one or two years? It is only when the losses re totted up that a pattern begins to emerge.
Another problem has been the tendency of Third World countries like Pakistan to blame the developed world for climate change. It is true that Pakistan alone cannot act to stop climate change, and the developed nations must do the most to cut the greenhouse gas emissions behind the climate change (as well as the use of plastics killing off marine life in the world’s oceans), and it can be argued that the Third World must have its costs paid by the First. However, that should not disguise the fact that Pakistan needs to do its bit. The recent smog that afflicted its largest province is evidence that there are many steps that Pakistanis can take to reduce its carbon footprint. The question naturally arises whether the government has done anything substantial about climate change, beyond projects heavy with photo ops, like the vaunted million-tree tsunami. Much needs to be done, by citizen and government alike.