Climate change in Pakistan - Focused on Sindh Province
Climate change is an established fact and its impacts on water, agriculture, health, biodiversity, forest and socio-economic sectors are quite visible around the globe. According to IPCC (2007), developing and the least developed countries are expected to suffer more due to climate change as compared to the developed countries. This is true if we scale down this fact to the community level; in case of any climatic anomaly the poor people face the consequences due to lack of resources and access to information. Anthropogenic activities are mainly blamed to be responsible for the surging trend of climate related disasters occurring in different parts of the world and marginal income people are the major sufferers. After industrial revolution, emission of Green House Gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere increased drastically from industry and vehicular fossil fuel burning. Such gases have large warming potential and long life time to sustain warming process for decades to centuries. During 20th century, the increase in the global temperature was recorded as 0.76°C but in the first decade of this century 0.6°C rise has been noticed. Among 16 warmest years recorded over the globe, 9 top most were from the first decade of 21st century with ranks in decreasing order; 2010, 1998, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2009, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2001, 1997, 2008, 1995, 1999, 1990, 2000.
Pakistan is particularly vulnerable to climate change because it has generally a warm climate; it lies in a geographical region where the temperature increases are expected to be higher than the global average; its land area is mostly arid and semi-arid (about 60 per cent of the area receives less than 250 mm of rainfall per year and 24 per cent receives between 250-500 mm); its rivers are predominantly fed by the Hindu Kush-Karakoram Himalayan glaciers which are reported to be receding rapidly due to global warming; its economy is largely agrarian and hence highly climate sensitive; and because the country faces increasingly larger risks of variability in monsoon rains, hence large floods and extended droughts. Under the influence of all these factors the Water Security, the Flood Security and the Energy Security of the country are under serious threat. Compounding these problems are the expected increased risks to the coastal areas and the Indus deltaic region due to sea level rise, coastal erosion, saline sea water intrusion and increasing cyclonic activity in the Arabian Sea. The Indus Delta is already located in the intense heat zone and any rise in temperature would impact human health due to heat strokes, diarrhea, cholera, vector borne diseases; and human settlements due to frequent floods, droughts and cyclones. In this region, temperature is likely to increase by 4°C till 2100 and rainfall is going to be highly variable on temporal and spatial scale. The deltaic region would not only be affected by the local weather conditions but also weather activities upstream Indus and over the neighboring sea in the south due to climate change.
Although there are many challenges to the livelihood of the Indus Delta dwellers due to climate change but there are opportunities also. There is a large potential of wind power generation due to the vicinity of sea which can attract lot of investment building climate resilient infrastructure, generating employment for local population and hence ensuring sustainable livelihood. An organized land reclamation and water treatment will ensure the food security too.