A serious issue often ignored by most governments, climate change has the potential to greatly endanger the lives of millions of people in Pakistan. The present government, it seems, has finally realised the dangers of this global catastrophe as it has announced an amount of two billion rupees to be earmarked for Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme (GPP). Under this five-year programme, a total of 105 million trees are to be planted across the country. While it does remain to be seen as to what extent these funds are effectively utilised to make Pakistan greener, the earmarking of funds is a positive development as it would at the very least steer some attention towards climate change and hopefully result in some substantive improvements.
Pakistan is a country that is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Rise in global temperatures and the resulting irregular weather patterns could wreak havoc on the majority of the population. The recent waves of destructive floods bear testament to the fact that the poor in Pakistan have the most to lose as a result of climate change. Moreover, global warming can grossly damage the agricultural base of the country, which, in turn, would endanger food provision and security for the masses. Even heat waves that affect both cities and villages have shown their destructive potential as scores of people died due to the unforgiving heat last year. All this shows the gravity of climate change and the need to effectively counter it.
The most peculiar aspect of climate change is that it does not recognise the artificially constructed boundaries of nation states. Carbon emissions of one country will not stop to adversely affect that country alone. In light of this, it is often argued, mostly by the developing nations, that since most of the carbon emissions are by developed countries, it is their responsibility to decrease them. This argument is buttressed by further contending that since the developed world progressed without any regard to issues of carbon emissions then the developing world should also be allowed to do so. However, all this negates the fact that climate change would be harmful to developing countries more than the developed world because of the former’s reliance on agriculture and its far more numerous underprivileged population. Hence, climate change should not be looked with the myopia that it is often looked with in Pakistan. While it is true that there are other pressing issues that need the country’s resources, nevertheless they must not be used as pretence to relegate the issue of global warming to the fringes of the development agenda. And in order to give global warming and climate the priority it deserves, awareness regarding its adverse affects on the country must be constantly raised.*