NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM JAN 27 TO FEBRUARY 02,2020
RESEARCHERS URGED TO FOCUS ON CLIMATE CHANGE
By RECORDER REPORT on January 30, 2020
Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam signed the tripartite agreement signed between Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam, Pakistan Micro Finance Investment Company and SAFCO Support Foundation at Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam.
Yasir Ashfaque, Chief Executive Officer, Pakistan Micro Finance Investment Company (PMIC) highlighted the importance of Digital Micro Finance in increasing financial inclusion to boost up the agriculture economy of Pakistan he added that we are providing the Agri.
Finance to groups of the small farmers for the purchase of agriculture inputs for better utilization of their natural resource and Agriculture Productivity Enhancement of the farming community of Sindh Pakistan.
He further added that agriculture is the engine of Pakistan economy and contribute 18.5% in GDP and employees 38.5% of the total work force but agriculture is facing many challenges and crop production is vulnerable to climate variability, and climate change associated with increases in temperature, increases in CO2, and changing patterns of rainfall may lead to a considerable decline in crop production.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020
UK GOVERNMENT KEEN TO WORK WITH CLIMATE CHANGE MINISTRY: ENVOY
By RECORDER REPORT on January 30, 2020
The British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dr Christian Turner, on Wednesday called on Prime Minister’s Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam and conveyed his government’s interest to work with the climate change ministry on the present government’s green and clean programme, according to a press statement issued here.
Media focal person of the Climate Change Ministry, Mohammad Saleem told the media that during the meeting between the two sides held here at the adviser’s office. The British High Commissioner told Malik Amin Aslam that the UK government is seriously interested to help Pakistan boost its climate resilience against negative fallouts of the global warming.
The Adviser Malik Amin Aslam thanked Dr Christian Turner and said while the global warming-caused climate change is the gravest risk facing the humanity and Pakistan or any other country cannot fight it alone, said Saleem.
“Climate Change, which is affecting various socio-economic sectors, including agriculture, water, energy and food production systems worldwide, all of the countries have to join hands to cope with the common global peril of climate change,” Malik Amin Aslam emphasised.
The media focal person Muhammad Saleem said further that the adviser also briefed him about the five key green initiatives namely, Clean Green Pakistan Programme, Clean Green Pakistan Risk Index, 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, Recharge Pakistan and Ecosystem Restoration Fund being implemented by the climate change ministry under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“When you invest in nature, nature gives you back at such a speed you cannot imagine,” the adviser stated.
Meanwhile, the UK High Commissioner talked about the four areas of work related to climate change that include Green financial systems, clean green growth, nature based solutions and adaptation resilience, which are important areas to work on with Pakistan, the high commissioner said.
The climate change ministry media focal person also said that Malik Amin Aslam told the UK high commissioner to Pakistan inauguration of the Clean Green Pakistan Index by Prime Minister demonstrated the present government’s unflinching dedication of in making the country Clean and Green environmentally-safe and climate-resilient.
The high commissioner appreciated the Adviser’s efforts regarding Climate change adaptation and mitigation and tackling environmental degradation, he said..
The meeting, however, concluded with a promise on both sides that Pakistan and UK government will closely together boosting Pakistan’s efforts for tackling climate risks and environmental degradation at all scales, Muhammad Saleem told to media.-PR
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020
NEW STORM-WATER DRAIN TO BE BUILT TO PREVENT URBAN FLOODING IN KARACHI
The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter January 31, 2020
KARACHI: Sindh government has decided to build a new storm-water drain to combat urban flooding, which has almost become a regular feature in the metropolis during monsoon rains, according to officials.
They said on Thursday the decision was taken at a meeting convened to mull over the measures for protecting vulnerable neighbourhoods in the teeming megacity from flooding.
Officials said the meeting presided over by Sindh Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah decided to build the new storm-water drain and rehabilitate the existing Mehran drain to save residential areas like Saadi Town and other low-lying areas on the outskirts of the city.
The meeting was informed that monsoon rains in the city itself together with rainwater that flowed down mountains routinely caused flooding every year. During rains, the participants were told, water coming from Lath Dam used to discharge into Malir River through Mehran storm-water drain but the construction of M-9 Motorway, and certain residential projects over the natural route of the rainwater and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s failure to carry out the drain’s cleaning had created hurdles to the flow of the rainwater.
“As a result,” the meeting was told, “all this contributes to urban flooding during monsoon rains”.
In view of the situation, the meeting decided to construct the new 3.5km-long storm-water drain and rehabilitate the existing Mehran drain by removing illegal constructions and encroachments from its bed.
The chief secretary directed deputy commissioner of Malir to demolish illegal constructions and encroachments on Mehran drain and constituted a committee of officials drawn from irrigation department, KMC and cantonment boards to prepare a feasibility report and submit its PC-I within 30 days.
When the meeting was informed that K-Electric’s KDA grid station faced threat of flooding during last monsoon rains, the chief secretary asked the power company to formulate a plan for the protection of its installations and share the same with the Sindh government.
Shah directed the officers concerned to write a letter to the National Highway Authority, urging it to widen the culverts under the Motorway.
The deputy commissioner of the district concerned, representative of K-Electric, director general of Provincial Disaster Management Authority, officials of the irrigation department and the Army Engineering Corps attended the meeting.
Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2020
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM JAN 20 TO JAN 26,2020
CLIMATE & HEALTH
Arif Azad January 21, 2020
THE COP25 conference in Madrid last month ended without much progress in terms of coming up with either additional finances for countries battling severe effects of climate change, or an alternative carbon market. The countries present expressed only ritualistic commitment to continue working towards the goals of greenhouse gases reduction set in the previous edition of the Paris climate conference.
However, the WHO used the occasion to unveil its first-ever report on the resilience of health systems vis-à-vis climate change, The WHO Health and Climate Change Survey: Tracking Global Progress, to highlight the neglected link between health and climate change. Rising global temperature impacts social and environmental determinants of health, including clean air, potable water, sufficient food and secure shelter, increasing the global disease burden.
Increased temperatures contribute to higher levels of pollens and allergens in the atmosphere that cause respiratory diseases like asthma while the ozone layer’s depletion contributes to higher prevalence of skin cancers. Hot weather causes dehydration; in areas where water is scarce, kidney stones and other health complications may arise.
Increased frequency of extreme weather events also contributes to the disease burden. For example, between 2010 and 2015, Pakistan was ravaged by severe flooding that caused deaths in the thousands, while also contaminating freshwater sources, increasing the prevalence of water-borne diseases and creating breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects, besides damaging public property.
Inaction on climate change will only exacerbate the problem.
Meanwhile, carbon emissions into the atmosphere also lower the nutritional density of food crops. Climate change induces drought leading to disruption of the supply and production of food items, eventually resulting in food insecurity and malnutrition.
With malnutrition levels already alarmingly high in Pakistan, the government’s inaction on climate change will only exacerbate the problem. According to the WHO, the effects of climate change can cause up to 250,000 additional deaths between 2030 and 2050 by a combination of malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoeal diseases and heat stress, costing the global health sector up to $4 billion by 2030.
WHO also estimates that reducing carbon emissions in line with the 2014 Paris Agreement could save about a million lives by 2050 through action on reducing air pollution alone. The resilience report also shows that in countries where climate and health assessments were conducted, heat stress, injury or death from extreme weather events, food- and water-borne diseases were identified as the most common climate-change-related health risk indictors.
The WHO report on health systems resilience pointed to the lack of capacity and money to incorporate health-related factors into climate action strategies. The report revealed that about half the countries surveyed had developed national health and climate change strategies or plans, but less than one-fifth reported high levels of implementation. At least 10 per cent of countries cited lack of resources as the reason for not fully implementing their own national plans.
The report stated that most governments experienced difficulties in accessing international climate finance for health-related projects. Moreover, 75pc respondents reported lack of information on climate finance opportunities, 60pc said health actors were disconnected from climate finance processes while over 50pc cited lack of existing expertise within health systems to even draft proposals for climate finance funding cycles.
The report further stated that very few countries were able to exploit the synergies between carbon-emission-reducing and environmental-contamination projects. Only 20pc countries reported clear collaboration between the health sector and other sectors involved in climate change mitigation work, eg, power generation. This means that potential health gains accruing from cutting down carbon emissions are rarely reflected in national climate strategies, with only one-fifth of Nationally Determined Contributions mentioning health in the context of emission reduction.
The WHO resilience report ends with a clarion call for prioritising health in climate change plans, stating: “For the Paris Agreement to be effective to protect people’s health, all levels of government need to prioritise building health system resilience to climate change…”.
In Pakistan, though the climate change debate is clearly headed in the right direction, in the ensuing conversation and plans the subject of health still remains elusive. The COP25 in Madrid and the WHO report only remind us of the critical importance of factoring health into national climate change plans and nationally determined contributions and commitments.
The writer, a public health consultant, is the author of Patient Pakistan: Reforming and Fixing Healthcare for all in the 21st Century.
Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2020
GLOBAL ECONOMY MOST VULNERABLE TO CLIMATE CHANGE, SAYS RISK PERCEPTION SURVEY
Fayaz Hussain Updated January 26, 2020
KARACHI: The five most likely long-term risks to the global economy are all environment and climate-related, said participants in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risks Perception Survey 2019-20.
The participants — global shapers — identified that extreme heat waves, destruction of ecosystems, health impacted by pollution, water crisis and uncontrollable fires as the top risks faced by the global economy.
With environment and climate risks topping the list, the next ten years are being dubbed as “the decade of sustainability”.
The WEF rankings note that these risks are perceived differently with stark generational divergences in perspective.
Short-term risks in particular are perceived differently, with young professionals more emphatic on the need for environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) integration and rapid change in global production, investment and trade.
However, participants across all generations agree that the five most likely long-term risks for the global economy are all environment and climate-related.
Moreover, the report paints a gloomy outlook highlighting that the “climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than many expected. The last five years are on track to be the warmest on record, natural disasters are becoming more intense and more frequent, and last year witnessed unprecedented extreme weather throughout the world.”
It said the “near-term impacts of climate change add up to a planetary emergency that will include loss of life, social and geopolitical tensions and negative economic impacts.”
A separate report released by the International Institute of Finance (IIF) on the mentioned survey results notes that addressing these issues will require a robust toolkit including collaboration on methodologies to understand and price climate risk — and access to better ESG data.
The emphasis of an ESG data-led pivot is likely to be on the electricity generation. The global demand for electricity is projected to surge over 20 per cent in this decade as the world’s population grows, urbanisation rates rise, and consumer preferences spin towards lower-emissions technologies such as electric vehicles.
Emerging markets, notably China and India, will account for over 85pc of this rising demand. But this trend also highlights a major climate risk: at present, electricity generation is responsible for over 40pc of global carbon emissions, reflecting heavy reliance on fossil fuels in power generation.
With coal and natural gas making up over 60pc of the global power mix, transitioning towards renewable energy is crucial to mitigating global warming. However, reductions in carbon intensity (ie emissions per unit of energy consumed) have been slow in recent years.
The European Parliament has reached a compromise that may enable nuclear projects to attract taxonomy-compliant transition financing as long as they “do no significant harm” to environmental objectives.
Indeed, the standoff over the role of nuclear power in the European Green Deal highlights country-level divisions as the EU’s 2050 “net zero emissions” transition pathway takes shape.
France, Britain, and others have pushed for the EU’s sustainable finance taxonomy to include nuclear, despite opposition from Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg.
Over the past 30 years, share of renewables in total energy supply in the EU-28 has risen slowly, from 5pc to just 15pc; while the renewables industry has grown rapidly, it has not outpaced the rise in overall energy consumption.
This suggests that reliance on renewables alone may not be enough to reach net zero.
The report says “there is still scope for stakeholders to address these risks, but the window of opportunity is closing. Coordinated, multi-stakeholder action is needed quickly to mitigate against the worst outcomes and build resiliency across communities and businesses.”
Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2020
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM JAN 13 TO JAN 19,2020
AGRICULTURE: SOYA BEAN A MIRACLE CROP FOR NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY
Dr Saeed A. Asad January 13, 2020
PAKISTAN produces huge quantities of major staple and non-staple food crops, including wheat, rice, maize, sugar cane and cotton. Still, the state of food security in the country is far from satisfactory.
A rise in population, climate change and depleting water resources are only exacerbating the situation, and failure to achieve food security may push the country towards food imports.
Gauging the severity of the food security issue, the federal government has launched the Prime Minister’s National Agriculture Emergency Programme to increase the productivity of some selected livestock and crops, including oilseeds such as canola, mustard, soya bean, etc.
Despite their significant importance in food and feed, oilseed crops are categorised as minor crops in Pakistan. Because of their secondary position at research and policy level, oilseed crops have failed to find a priority place in our cropping system until recently.
Major oilseed crops grown in Pakistan are canola, rapeseed, cotton and sunflower, which are primarily used for edible (cooking) oil needs. With an annual population growth rate of around two per cent, the demand for cooking oil has been on the rise in Pakistan with every passing year, but the local production of oilseed crops is negligible, and country is dependent on imported edible oil.
It can help reduce edible oil imports, which have almost doubled to 3.35m tonnes in the last five years
For example, during the 2016-17 fiscal year, only 12pc of our total edible oil requirement of nearly 3.6 million tonnes was met by local produce. The remainder was contributed by imports, which cost the country around $3 billion.
Edible oil imports have doubled in the last five years, rising from 1.67m tonnes in 2014-15 to 3.35m tonnes in 2018-19, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
Soya bean is a rich and economical source of nutrition, containing up to 42pc of best-quality protein, 22pc oil contents and 30pc carbohydrates besides significant amounts of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
The soya bean seed also contains many limiting amino acids, namely lysine, linoleic and linolenic acids, which are essential for human but not synthesised by human body itself. Therefore, soya bean oil is the best source of essential elements required for human growth and development.
Owing to its prime nutritional value and multiplex uses, it is also called the “golden bean”. Moreover, it contains the highest amounts of oil and protein contents than other oilseeds.
Soya bean is a non-conventional crop and owing to its marginal cultivation, it is less popular among Pakistani farmers. Interestingly, all the four provinces
of Pakistan are suitable for soya bean cultivation and this crop needs minimal amounts of fertilisers as compared with cash crops like cotton, sugar cane, maize, etc.
Historically, soya bean was recognised as popular crop for intercropping with sugar cane, an ideal combination of an exhaustive and restorative crop. Its cultivation in Pakistan peaked in 1990, but then it started to decline gradually and almost disappeared from our fields by 2010.
Soya bean is a short duration crop, maturing in 90 to 120 days depending on the seed variety and weather. It also fits well in our existing cropping system without clashing with major crops.
Therefore, farmers could utilise rice, cotton, and rain-fed fallow areas for soya bean cultivation. The respective patterns for soya bean cultivation in rain-fed, rice and cotton areas are wheat-soya bean-wheat, rice-soya bean-rice, and cotton-soya bean-cotton.
The cultivation of soya bean after exhaustive crops (wheat, rice and cotton) also helps restore the soil fertility and health for the next exhaustive crop, because soya bean captures nitrogen from air and stores it in the soil.
Due to a lack of policy and low return value, soya bean has failed to earn a respectable position in the existing farming schemes of Pakistan.
The unavailability of quality seeds, lack of production technology, extension services and marketing facilities have worsened the situation.
As the soya bean can help cut edible oil imports to a significant extent, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research needs to launch a massive information drive at federal level in close coordination with provincial agricultural departments and oilseed boards.
The Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) has already taken initiatives for increasing soya bean cultivation in a few districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, distributing soya bean seed to farmers free of cost.
PARC and regional agricultural research institutes including Faisalabad’s Ayub Agricultural Research Institute and Swat’s Agricultural Research Institute have developed some novel varieties of soya bean suitable for local soil and climatic conditions.
Better availability of native seed varieties is imperative for the success of the soya bean crop across the country. The efforts being made in this regard need to be accelerated and taken to the level of small farmers rather than focused only on progressive growers.
Small farmers comprise more than 90 per cent of our farming community and a little incentive to smallholder peasants can yield promising results.
Marketing soya bean in Pakistan is no more a problem because of its versatility and wide use in human food, livestock and poultry feeds. Poultry feed has emerged as the biggest user of this crop after oil extraction in the country. Moreover, its other uses in paints, polymers, wood adhesives, synthetic fibres, fire foams, pesticides, medicines, cosmetics and papers make it an ideal crop to embed in our existing cropping patterns.
Soya bean is in indeed a miracle crop, and a little effort by the government to boost its cultivation may save billions of dollars being spent on edible oil imports.
The writer is an assistant professor at the Centre for Climate Research and Development of the COMSATS University Islamabad
Publish in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 13th 2020
EU LAYS OUT €1TR PLAN TO SUPPORT GREEN DEAL
AP Updated January 15, 2020
BRUSSELS: The European Union plans to dedicate a quarter of its budget to tackling climate change and to help shift one trillion euros ($1.1tr) in investment towards making the economy more environmentally friendly over the next 10 years.
The Europe Investment Plan unveiled on Tuesday will be funded by the EU budget and the private sector. It aims to deliver on European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s Green Deal to make the bloc the world’s first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.
The plan includes a mechanism designed to help the regions that would be most disrupted economically by the transition to cleaner industries. It does not depend on any further approval from EU countries.
Von der Leyen, who took office in December, has made the fight against climate change the priority of her mandate.
The bloc’s executive arm says that half of the investment will come from the EU budget. National governments will contribute €100bn and €300bn will come from the private sector. Another €7.5bn from the 2021-2027 EU budget is earmarked as seed funding within a broader mechanism expected to generate another €100bn in investment.
The money is designed to convince coal-dependent countries like Poland to embrace the Green Deal by helping them weather the financial and social costs of moving away from fossil fuels.
The plan would allocate the money according to specific criteria. For example, regions where a large number of people work in coal, peat mining or shale oil and gas would get priority.
EU leaders agreed last month to make the bloc’s economy carbon neutral by the middle of the century, but Poland, which depends on coal for much of its energy needs, did not immediately agree to the timeline.
“We want to allow the coal regions to embrace without hesitation the European Green Deal,” said a senior commission official, who was not authorised to speak publicly as a matter of practice.
The workers losing their jobs should be helped for re-skilling.
“There will be support for new infrastructure, job-seeking assistance, investment in new productive activities. And the regions where existing activities will cease will also need to be regenerated,” he added.
The commission says the plan will also be supported by money from EU regional programmes, from the InvestEU program, which mobilises public and private investment using an EU budget guarantee, and the European Investment Bank.
According to the commission’s estimates, meeting the 2030 climate goals — which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent from 1990 levels — will cost an additional 260 million euros per year.
In order to qualify for the financial support, member states will need to present plans to restructure their economy detailing low-emission projects. The plans will need the commission’s approval.
Projects including nuclear power won’t be eligible for funding, except for those related to Euratom’s programme for nuclear research and training.
European lawmakers are expected to hold a non-binding vote on a Green Deal resolution on Wednesday and von der Leyen wants to have a climate law adopted by March.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2020
‘MOMENT OF CRISIS’ HAS COME ON CLIMATE CHANGE, WARNS VETERAN BROADCASTER
AFP January 17, 2020
LONDON: The world is facing the “moment of crisis” on climate change and cannot delay action any longer, British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough warned in an interview broadcast on Thursday.
“We have been putting things off year after year, we have been raising targets and saying ‘Oh well, if we do it within the next 20 years,” he told the BBC.
“The moment of crisis has come, we can no longer prevaricate.” His comments come after the United Nations revealed the past decade has been the hottest on record, and warned higher temperatures were expected to fuel more extreme weather events.
Attenborough said immediate action was required. “We can’t go on saying ‘but there’s hope’ and leave it to next year. We have to change”.
The veteran presenter said there had been a “huge change in public opinion” about climate change, particularly among young people, and politicians must listen.
“We have to realise that this is not playing games, this is not just having nice little debates and arguments, then coming away with a compromise,” he said.
“This is an urgent problem that has to be solved. And, what is more, we know how to do it. That’s the paradoxical thing, that we are refusing to take steps that we know have to be taken.
“And every year that passes makes those steps more and more difficult to achieve.”
Attenborough is renowned for his ground-breaking wildlife programmes for the BBC, and has become increasingly vocal about the impact of climate change.
His hugely popular TV series “Blue Planet II” was credited with raising global awareness about the damage caused by discarded plastics to the world’s oceans and marine life.
He spoke out on Thursday to launch a year of special coverage on climate change by the national broadcaster, which coincides with Britain’s hosting of the COP 26 climate summit in November.
Attenborough said a game-changer in tackling global warming would be if China announced major steps to curb its carbon output.
“Everybody else would fall into line… That would be the big change one could hope would happen,” he said.
The UN’s World Meteorological Organisation revealed on Wednesday that the past decade has been the hottest on record.
It warned that higher temperatures had already had dire consequences, from record sea levels to increasing ocean heat and extreme weather, and these were set to continue.
“The year 2020 has started out where 2019 left off — with high-impact weather and climate-related events,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas said.
Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2020
CLIMATE & SECURITY
Aisha Khan January 19, 2020
THE year 2020 marks the beginning of a decade witnessing the onset of many changes that will bring focus to the connection between climate change and national security.
The harsh winter spell this year and the associated deaths of more than 100 people are just one of a series of events having a spillover effect on many aspects of life. Fires, floods and drought, here or in other parts of the world, are a clear indication of the scale and scope of the challenges that we face.
Climate change is a living, dynamic and evolving threat that cannot be ignored. To be effective, every development policy and political decision must factor in the science of climate change and project its cyclical, repetitive and multifaceted impacts on social and economic indicators.
So far there is no indication that global temperature increase will be contained within one degree Celsius by 2050. The commitments made in the Paris Agreement are not legally binding; the accord, therefore, cannot be relied on as the international instrument for ensuring compliance. It appears that each country will have to deal with the climate crisis using local resources, capacities and technologies to build adaptive resilience.
Political decisions must factor in the science of climate change.
The internal and external threats of climate conflicts on national security are inseparable. If left unmanaged both will create chaos and instability. Internal peace and stability depend on social harmony and economic opportunity; however, both have come under extreme stress as effects of climate change shrink the resource base against rising demand.
In Pakistan’s context, a burgeoning population and widening gap in wealth distribution act as a threat multiplier. The decrease in per capita water availability, unsuitable cropping patterns, poor gender parity, high population growth rate and underdeveloped human capital make it difficult for the state to respond to the impacts of these exponential threat multipliers. Climate hot spots, drought, desertification, floods, disease, increased frequency of natural disasters and subsequent mass movement of people in search of livelihoods are already contributing to societal strife, pitting vested interest groups against each other as they compete for resources, leading to violent conflicts and lawlessness.
South Asia as a region has always been volatile and the recent political developments in the countries bordering Pakistan do not augur well for peace and stability. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s dependence on water sources outside its boundaries adds another layer of complexity to the already existing security threats faced by the country.
The perils to national security emanate from different sectors, situations and circumstances, and therefore, cannot be addressed without a holistic approach. Specific attention must be paid to game-changing elements such as foreign policy, governance model, population growth rate, gender parity and quality of human resource.
Recent political and social events in many parts of the world have shown us that exclusive narratives are gaining traction, putting countries and not humanity, first. This poses a moral dilemma to rights-based approaches in finding fair solutions to these challenges.
On the other hand, hybrid warfare and invasion, and the proverbial destruction of perceived enemies, without engaging in direct military combat, are and will continue to be on the rise. Through cyberspace, social media and covert and insidious penetrations, manipulating minds to create internal disorder will only add to sociopolitical volatility at the regional and global level.
National security will, therefore, have to be built on the pillars of multi-disciplinary actions that take into account the significance of climate change and its impacts on socioeconomic and political developments at the global and national level. National security by definition means protecting the interests and well-being of all the people living within the geographical boundaries of a country. However, with the rapidity and complexity of changes occurring as a result of global warming, it is no longer an option to presume that security is limited to external aggression or it is the exclusive domain of the military establishment and the law-enforcement agencies.
Harmonised societies with good governance, strong institutions and a proven track record in service delivery will be better placed to cope with the impact of climate conflicts on national security.
In the present climatic and security threats posed to Pakistan, people are the first line of defence. In order to secure the interests of the nation it is vital to secure the needs of the people. An empowered, intelligent and rational populace with robust social and economic indicators is the best investment in national security.
The writer is the chief executive of Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2020
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM JAN 06 TO JAN 12
CLIMATE CHANGE DEATHS
By Editorial Published: January 6, 2020
Around 128,000 people die due to climate change every year in Pakistan, an official of the ministry of climate change informed a Senate panel recently. Officials also made some other disturbing disclosures at a meeting with members of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights. Some of these are that average lifespan in the country could be reduced by two to five years because of environmental pollution; 43 per cent of the pollution is being caused by the imported low-grade oil used by the transport and energy sectors; and Pakistan cannot use environmentally-friendly fuel till 2021; that the country’s last oil sector policy came, in 1997, 22 years ago. Since then, much technological advancement has taken place. Furthermore, climate change is also affecting children’s immune system. The committee, headed by Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, took up the issue of climate change after the recent smog in Lahore. The panel invited the ministry of climate change, Punjab government representatives, the ministry of petroleum, Ogra, and representatives of oil refineries to the meeting.
The panel was informed that the five oil refineries in the country are still primitive and our oil has high magnesium and sulphur contents. This is harmful to health. In Pakistan, Euro-2 standard is applied while the world has gone to Euro-6 technology. Experts say going to Euro-4 or Euro-5 will be counter-productive if vehicles are not upgraded with regular inspections. Tail-end emissions and fuel quality need to be considered simultaneously.
Considering all this in the backdrop of the fact that Pakistan is the fifth-most vulnerable country to climate change, the sluggish approach by the authorities points to a grave failure on their part. We should not uncritically get carried away by all that writers on climate change say. One should sift chaff from the grain. However, science is not an alternative fact. It cannot be denied that ice melts when exposed to heat.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2020.
CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS IN COASTAL AREAS TERMED CATASTROPHIC
Ghulam Hussain Khawaja January 08, 202
DELIBERATIONS of the seminar under way on SU campus in Makli on Tuesday.—Dawn
THATTA: Climate change in Pakistan is unleashing more destruction than what wars do. Over 3.5 million acres of land in the coastal areas of Sindh, especially Thatta and Badin districts, have already vanished due to sea erosion.
This was observed by MPA Syed Riaz Hussain Shah Sheerazi at a seminar on climate change and its impacts held here on Tuesday following signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) by the Sindh University (SU) and Islamic Relief Pakistan (IRP) on the Thatta campus of the varsity.
MPA Shah that the phenomenon leading to the huge loss of land and livelihood, besides shifting of local communities from the coastal areas to urban and infertile patches over a few decades, was catastrophic. Although sea intrusion and resultant losses appeared natural, it’s somehow a man-made disaster as nothing had been done in this long period to ensure flow of sweetwater into the sea through Indus in the deltaic region. This, he observed, forced indigenous people to migrate from the affected areas.
SU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Fateh Muhammad Burfat presided over the seminar which was attended by political leaders and activists, members of civil society organisations and university students.
Prof Burfat told the audience that the historical city of Thatta had once been a well developed city and included Karachi as its small tehsil. “It has now shrunk to a desert city due to climate change, which now poses a serious threat to its territory, ecology and demography,” he said.
He said that thousands of graves in Makli belonging to the people of different dynasties made the world believe that prosperity prevailed in this region. “The tombs at Makli are more magnificent than the houses standing today in the area. This is a situation worrisome for all of us,” he said.
SU pro-vice chancellor Prof Dr Rafiq Memon and PPP Thatta district president Sadiq Memon also spoke at the seminar, which was followed by a discussion on environment, climate change, mega projects and other development works being carried out in the coastal areas.
SU registrar Dr Ameer Ali Abro urged lawyers, teachers and other segments of society to come forward and help government evolve the policies that benefit the region and its people.
Advocate Sarmad Iqbal of the IRP noted that universities greately contributed in promoting research and suggesting ways to policy-makers. He said that in order to fight climate change impacts, people were required to change their behaviour towards environment and help curb pollution.
He said that the MoU signed today with the SU would enable the two institutions to explore opportunities for chalking out joint programmes and engage youth and policy-makers in this regard.
Prof Dr Mukhtiar A. Mahar, Khuda Bux Behrani and Haroon Bakari also shared their views on climate change with other participants of the discussion.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2020
BUZDAR SEEKS CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY, REPORT ON ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated January 09, 2020
LAHORE: Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has directed to formulate a climate change policy besides preparing a comprehensive report on the environmental situation across Punjab.
Chairing a meeting of the Punjab Environmental Protection Council at his office on Wednesday, the chief minister announced that an environment endowment fund would be set up to regularly monitor and determine the standard of air quality index and directed to constitute a committee for the purpose.
He said the identification of environment quality should be realistic and experts consulted to deal with climate change issues, as it was a sensitive matter and no leniency or negligence would be tolerated.
He also regretted that criminal negligence was shown in the past by ignoring climate challenges and trees were felled for creating a jumble of concrete structures, bridges and buildings. “We are facing the consequences now in the shape of smog and environmental pollution,” he regretted.
Mr Buzdar emphasised that the future generations would have to be provided with a neat and clean atmosphere and for that purposes every challenge needed to be met. He stressed that the Punjab Environmental Protection Council meetings would be held regularly.
Environmental experts and heads of different departments presented their proposals at the meeting.
Punjab Environment Minister Muhammad Rizwan, secretaries of environment, industries, planning and development, finance, irrigation, health and forest departments, representatives of WWF-Pakistan, Punjab University, UET Lahore and others attended the meeting.
Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2020
BUSHFIRES FLARE AGAIN IN SOUTHERN AUSTRALIA
AFP Updated January 10, 2020
SYDNEY: Bushfires flared in southern Australia on Thursday as a heatwave expected to bring renewed misery set in, and officials warned some areas are “just at the beginning” of the devastating crisis.
Soldiers went door-to-door advising residents to leave the South Australian town of Parndana on Kangaroo Island after a large blaze bore down on the area, with temperatures there soaring to 38 degrees Celsius.
That came less than 24 hours after police evacuated the picturesque island’s Vivonne Bay community, which by Thursday afternoon was also being threatened by fires that were expected to burn for days to come.
“The conditions are such that it is continuing to present a significant risk to the firefighters who are working hard to control the fires, and to anyone else in the vicinity,” Country Fire Service chief Mark Jones said.
In Victoria state, officials extended a “state of disaster” declaration for a further 48 hours ahead of scorching temperatures that were due to set in Friday, further stoking massive fires.
“It’s a very dangerous and dynamic situation that will confront us over the next 12, 24 and 36 hours,” Victoria Emergency Management commissioner Andrew Crisp said.
The catastrophic bushfires have killed at least 26 people, destroyed more than 2,000 homes and scorched some 80,000 square kilometres — an area the size of the island of Ireland.
Scientists say the drought-fuelled blazes are being worsened by climate change, which is increasing the length and intensity of Australia’s fire season.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews warned residents to brace for further devastation in what has already been a months-long crisis. “We’re just at the beginning of what will be a really, really challenging summer,” he said.
Despite cooler weather and rainfall providing some relief in some bushfire-affected areas this week, almost 150 fires were still burning in worst-hit New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, the huge continent’s most populated regions.
Firefighters have been taking advantage of this week’s milder weather as they race to contain bushfires ahead of Friday.
They have been clearing vegetation and carrying out controlled burns in an effort to protect areas like the coastal town of Eden, where a large bushfire is burning to the south.
Rebuilding In some burnt-out areas people have turned to the painful task of rebuilding their homes and lives, with the process expected to take years.
NSW announced on Thursday it would spend Aus$1.2 billion (US$680 million) on restoring infrastructure in fire-ravaged areas. That comes on top of a separate Aus$2 billion ($1.4 billion) national recovery fund earmarked to help devastated communities.
“We are always standing shoulder-to-shoulder with those who have been impacted by the devastating fires, this catastrophe which has come to New South Wales and we are stepping up to make sure we provide that support,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
The bushfire toll has not been limited to human losses — the blazes have also wreaked wide-ranging environmental damage.
University of Sydney scientists estimate one billion animals have been killed in the fires.
Bushfire smoke has shrouded Australia’s major cities in toxic haze for weeks, causing major public health concerns. The smoke has also travelled more than 12,000 kilometres to Brazil and Argentina, according to weather authorities there.
Australia experienced its driest and hottest year on record in 2019, with its highest average maximum temperature of 41.9 degrees Celsius recorded in mid-December.
Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2020
HELL AND ICE WATER: GLACIER MELT THREATENS PAKISTAN’S FUTURE
AFP January 11, 2020
SHISPER GLACIER: The villagers of Hassanabad live in constant fear.
Above them the vast Shisper glacier dominates the landscape: a river of jagged black ice moving towards them at as much as four metres per day.
Climate change is causing most glaciers worldwide to shrink, but due to a meteorological anomaly this is one of a few in the Karakoram mountain range that are surging.
This means hundreds of tonnes of ice and debris are pushing down the valley at ten times the normal rate or more, threatening the safety of the people and homes below.
“People’s lives, properties and animals are in danger,” warns villager Basir Ali.
UNDP estimates more than 3,000 glacial lakes have been formed in the region
Flash floods caused by glacial lakes, ice and rock falls, and a lack of clean and accessible water are all serious risks for those close to its path.
“When a glacial lake bursts there is an enormous amount of not only ice, water and debris that falls through, but also mud and this has devastating effects, it basically destroys everything that comes in its way,”
But repercussions of the Shisper glacier surge extend far beyond its path: the mighty Indus River is reliant on seasonal melt for more than half of its flow and changes in Pakistan’s ice fields affect this.
That has implications not just for those living in its basin, but for the whole nation, which relies on it for much of its food.
Shifting water levels also have implications for the fragile relationship between Pakistan and India.
Sometimes called The Third Pole, the Karakoram region holds more ice than anywhere other than the Artic or Antartica.
But a third of the glaciers here are expected to melt by 2100, endangering the lives of hundreds of millions, according to this year’s Hindu Kush-Himalaya Assessment Report.
The waterway’s basin produces 90 per cent of Pakistan’s food, according to the UN, and agriculture is dependent on irrigation from the river, which heavily relies on meltwater from the ice sheets.
With its surging population experts warn the nation faces “absolute water scarcity” by 2025, with the loss of the Himalayan glaciers a key threat.
While scientists cite climate change and topography, it’s not clear exactly what causes the Karakoram anomaly where glaciers are surging and in some cases growing. But many say these changes will also impact the Indus because they alter meltwater patterns, causing flash flooding or water shortages that are difficult to predict and manage.
“The Shisper glacier is increasing its length and width, furthermore it is also moving downhill,” explained Shehzad Baig of the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority.
He warned climate change meant there was heavier snowfall during the winters and warmer temperatures in the summers, leading to the ice mass producing more meltwater, swelling the Hunza River, a churning mountain tributary of the Indus.
“This may cause harm to the local community and deprive the people of the Indus basin blocking or disturbing drinking water and irrigation channels,” Baig warned, adding that changing weather patterns were also creating more glacial lakes.
The UNDP estimates that more than 3,000 glacial lakes have been formed in the region, with 33 posing an imminent threat of ‘outburst floods’, known as GLOFs, that could impact as many as seven million people.
Last year the surging Shisper glacier effectively dammed a meltwater stream from a neighbouring glacier creating a large lake. Authorities were forced to issue safety warnings to Hassanabad and local villages before the water was drained.
But satellite data shows the lake is already reforming, leaving residents fearing not only the progression of the crushing ice sheet but that they will be swept to their deaths in flash floods.
“This whole area will be devastated…the whole population and people’s properties will go into river,” cautions villager Didar Karim.
Professor Andreas Kb from the University of Oslo says Pakistan must adapt its “monitoring and response strategies, and risk management in general” to contend with both surging and shrinking glaciers.
Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2020
ASIA’S GREAT RIVERS: CLIMATE CRISIS, POLLUTION PUT BILLIONS AT RISK
AFP January 11, 2020
HONG KONG: The year is 2100. The glaciers of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region — the world’s “Third Pole” — are vanishing as the planet warms, the ice that once fed the
great rivers of Asia is all but lost, and with it much of the water needed to nurture and grow a continent.
Further stressed by extreme heatwaves, erratic monsoons, and pollution, the waterways are in crisis and the lives of hundreds of millions hang in the balance.
Access to clean water, now more precious than oil, is a preserve of the rich and has become a resource so valuable that people — and nations — are willing to fight for it.
This apocalyptic vision is the continent’s future if nothing is done to limit global warming, scientists and environmentalists warn.
“If urgent climate action is not taken rapidly, starting today, and current emission trends continue unabated, it is starting to look conceivable that this will entail grave threats to all of humanity as we know it,” says David Molden, director general of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).
Over half the world’s population lives in Asia, but there is less fresh water available per person than on any continent, according to UN
The 2015 Paris agreement saw nations commit to limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels as a way of curbing the worst impacts of global warming.
A lower cap of 1.5C was set, only as a goal for nations to work towards.
But this year’s Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) Assessment Report says unless it is met — two-thirds of the region’s glaciers will be lost by the end of the century.
Running from Afghanistan to Myanmar, the HKH region takes in the Tibetan Plateau, and the Himalaya, Hindu Kush, and Karakoram mountain ranges.
Functioning as a vast water tower, some of the world’s largest and most important rivers, including the Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Mekong and Indus, begin here.
Its health is inextricably linked to that of the continent: Some 1.65 billion people directly rely on these waters — for their lives and livelihoods.
But tens of millions more rely on the agriculture, hydropower, and industries the rivers fuel.
“This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of,” ICIMOD’s Philippus Wester explains, adding that alongside glacier melt, there will be increased risk of floods, droughts, landslides and avalanches. But many in Asia are already living this dystopian future.
In the southern Indian city of Chennai, 2019 brought a drought so severe reservoirs ran dry. Residents were forced to queue for water from government tanks or pay black-market prices. In some cases, desperation led to violence.
Northern India was lashed by flooding as the Brahmaputra and Ganges rivers burst their banks, with more than 100 reported dead and many more displaced. In Pakistan, thousands of glacial lakes have formed, with its mountain people facing the threat of at least 30 bursting.
In parts of China, villagers must choose between paying a premium for bottles or risking their health with the potentially contaminated stream or river water.
More than half the world’s population lives in Asia, but there is less fresh water available per person there than on any continent, according to the UN, often leaving the most vulnerable at risk.
“Climate change is rapidly diminishing our access to clean water, which will have a devastating impact on human health, access to food, and sanitation, radically reshaping communities and cities,” Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said.
“As always, the poorest people are and will be the most affected.”
Asia’s rivers feed the continent’s breadbaskets and rice bowls — the Indus, Yangtze, and Yellow basins rely heavily on meltwater to irrigate agriculture that helps sustain not only those that live there, but national economies too.
Any change — either the initial surge of meltwater — or the later drastic decline in river flow could cause catastrophic food shortages, with Molden warning the worst-case scenario, if nothing is done to combat global warming, would be “starvation and conflict”.
Despite proclamations that we are in “the Asian Century”, there are fears lack of proper planning for the coming water crisis may stifle the economic dreams of a rapidly growing region.
Debra Tan, director of the NGO China Water Risk, adds: “Asia faces a triple threat in terms of water because 1) some parts — including China and India — have very limited water resources to develop, 2)climate change exacerbates scarcity, and 3) our cities and populations are clustered along vulnerable rivers.” Every key industry on the continent — from electronics and automobiles to clothing and agriculture —requires water but few use the resource judiciously.
Irrigation methods are often inefficient and crops grown can be water-intensive, while many industries still discharge untreated water in the rivers with few facilities for recycling.
Tan insists: “If the risks are not managed well, they will not only have detrimental consequences to billions of livelihoods but also to trillions of dollars of economic growth.”
Mass migration away from most affected areas will put intense pressure on other towns and cities. This may exacerbate tensions in a conflict-prone area — both within and between countries, Wester says. In a 2008 report, Goldman Sachs hailed water as the “the petroleum for the next century”, underlining fears its scarcity will lead to unrest.
Already ranked among the planet’s most water-stressed nations according to the World Resources Institute, India and Pakistan’s access to the Indus and its tributaries is governed by a dedicated treaty.
But there have long been fears that India, which sits upstream, could weaponise the resource, as it has threatened more than once to restrict Pakistan’s access.
In 2017, China withheld hydrological data on the flow of the Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers, which flow from its territory into India. The move heightened tensions with New Delhi as authorities rely on upstream information for flood control.
Geopolitics may dictate the very survival of the Mekong, says Brian Eyler, South East Asia programme director for The Stimson Center.
There are more than 100 dams across the five countries that rely on the river. China alone has built 11 “mega-dams” which impact flow downstream in the dry season.
The issue is not just the loss of water flow, but also diminishing sediment and a decline in migratory fish downstream.
“Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake produces 500,000 tons of wild-caught fish per year and this feeds the Khmer people with 70 percent of their protein intake. Vietnam needs sediment to keep its delta agricultural production strong,” Eyler says.
Without the sediment, a key building block of any delta, the Mekong’s wetlands may slip into the ocean faster — leaving millions homeless and destitute.
Alston says: “Governments need to stop taking access to clean water for granted and urgently plan for how they will guarantee the right to water for everyone, not just those who can afford it.”
Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2020
CLIMATE AT MERCY OF POLITICS IN 2020, EXPERTS WARN
By January 12, 2020
PARIS: 2020 is the most crucial year yet for humanity’s plan to dodge the bullet of catastrophic global warming, experts said Saturday, warning that the narrow path to safety was riddled with pitfalls, from the United States election to Brexit.
The progession of global temperature since 1840. / AFP / Simon MALFATTO AND Jean-Michel CORNU
When nations struck the 2015 Paris agreement, which aims to limit temperature rises under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), they agreed on five-year periods in which climate action could be implemented, assessed and boosted.
2020 is the year the landmark deal goes into effect, yet almost three decades of diplomatic wrangling has fallen far short of what science says is needed to avert disastrous climate change.
A crucial United Nations summit at which leaders will finalize their action plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is set to open in Glasgow on November 9 — just six days after a US general election that could see President Donald Trump win a second term.
Trump shocked the world in 2017 when he said the US — history’s largest emitter — was withdrawing from the Paris agreement. It is due to leave the deal on November 4.
“Another four years of Trump in the White House would mean that the world’s key country in terms of providing global leadership will be sitting the problem out,” Michael Oppenheimer, professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“So, that’s four years of having a millstone around the neck of the world’s efforts to deal with climate change.”
After a year of climate-related disasters, from cyclones and flooding in Africa and Southeast Asia, to devastating wildfires in Australia and California, nations in December failed to make progress during the annual UN Climate Change Conference COP25.
More than 100 countries have pledged to redouble their efforts to reduce domestic emissions, but the biggest polluters — China, India, the US and the European Union — have yet to unveil new plans.
The Paris deal was dragged partly over the line thanks to more than a year of shuttle diplomacy by host France.
Climate negotiations are multilateral and emissions cuts voluntary, so much depends on the skill and tactics of the country in charge of annual COP negotiating sessions.
COP26 President Claire O’Neill told AFP last month that climate would be the British government’s “No. 1 global priority” this year leading up to the Glasgow summit.
But there are fears that Brexit trade negotiations with Brussels, which will last until around the same time as COP26, will drain much-needed diplomatic bandwidth.
“There is a Brexit scenario in which the [United Kingdom] is distracted at the highest level and the relationship with the EU has soured,” said Nick Mabey, chief executive officer of the green think tank E3G.
“It’s a risk. Brexit is the government’s number one defensive diplomatic priority and I would say COP needs to be its number one offensive diplomatic priority.
“COP requires a huge, proactive campaigning, full-functioning diplomatic machine,” he told AFP.
Mabey said Britain already had more than 100 diplomats focusing solely on climate ahead of Glasgow.
But perhaps the biggest moment for the climate in 2020 will come before both the US election or the COP.
In September, the EU-China summit in Leipzig is likely to see the world’s largest single market push the world’s biggest carbon polluter for greater emissions-cutting commitments.
Li Shuo, senior global policy advisor for Greenpeace East Asia, said this year presented a massive opportunity for China to show global leadership over climate.
“The US, China, EU climate tricycle has had a wheel pulled off by Trump,” said Li Shuo, senior global policy advisor for Greenpeace East Asia.
“Going into 2020 it is critical for the two remaining wheels to roll in sync.
“The decision taken by Chinese leaders over the next year… matters to how the world views China under increasingly turbulent geopolitics,” Shuo said.
China and fellow emitter India were accused of stymying greater ambition at COP25 in Madrid by insisting they had already done their fair share in cutting carbon pollution.
Even if nations can agree in Glasgow to boost action during the next five years, their voluntary pledges are likely to be worlds apart from the drastic emissions cuts that Earth needs.
“Something called success is probably off the table for the moment,” said Mabey.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM DEC 30 TO JAN 05,2020
CLIMATE CHANGE CAUSED 15 DISASTERS COSTING OVER $1BN THIS YEAR: CHARITY
December 30, 2019
PARIS: At least 15 natural disasters linked to climate change this year caused damage of over $1 billion and seven of them cost at least $10 billion, British charity Christian Aid said on Friday.
This year is set to be the second hottest year in history and each of the disasters in the report has a link with climate change, Christian Aid said.
“Extreme weather, fuelled by climate change, struck every corner of the globe in 2019. From Southern Africa to North America and from Australia and Asia to Europe, floods, storms and fires brought chaos and destruction,” it said.
Assembling its report from official figures, estimates by NGOs and aid bodies, scientific studies and media reports, the British charity said the disasters displaced millions and caused widespread deaths.
Seven of them caused damage of more than $10 billion (9 billion euros). These included the floods that ravaged north India, typhoon Lekima in China, Hurricane Dorian in the United States, floods in China, floods in the Midwest and southern United States, typhoon Hagibis in Japan and the California wildfires, the costliest tragedy at $25 billion.
“These figures are likely to be underestimates as they often show only insured losses and do not always take into account other financial costs, such as lost productivity and uninsured losses,” it said.
Christian Aid said the overwhelming majority of deaths were caused by just two events, in India and southern Africa, which called it “a reflection of how the world’s poorest people pay the heaviest price for the consequences of climate change. “In contrast, the financial cost was greatest in richer countries: Japan and the United States suffered three of the four most costly events.”
Greenhouse gas emissions are once again set to rise in 2019 after hitting a record in 2018, as extreme weather events — made more likely as the planet warms — struck seemingly everywhere this year.
These include Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, typhoon Hagibis in Japan, a deadly, record-breaking heatwave across much of Europe, wildfires in California and eastern Australia and floods in Venice.
The threat posed by climate change became so stark in 2019 that Indonesia, one of the fastest-growing economies on Earth, decided to move its capital to somewhere that wasn’t sinking.
“Unless urgent action is taken to reduce emissions, global temperatures will rise at least another 0.5°C over the next 20 years, and another 2-3°C by the end of the century,” Christian Aid said.
“The world’s weather will continue to become ever-more extreme and people around the world will continue to pay the price. The challenge ahead is to minimise the impacts through deep and rapid emissions cuts.”—AFP
128,000 DEATHS OCCUR IN PAKISTAN DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE EVERY YEAR, SENATE BODY TOLD
Ikram Junaidi Updated December 31, 2019
ISLAMABAD: Members of a parliamentary committee were shocked to learn on Monday that 128,000 people die due to climate change in Pakistan.
Members of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights were also told that the average age or lifespan could decreased by two to five years because of environmental pollution.
The senators were informed that 43pc of pollution in the country is caused by low grade oil being imported and used by the transport industry and energy sector, and Pakistan cannot use environmentally friendly fuel until 2021.
They were particularly upset to learn that Pakistan’s last oil sector policy came in 1997, and no one has formulated a new policy since that is at par with advancements in technology, development and other requirements.
The committee, chaired by PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, took up climate change after the emergence of smog in Lahore.
Senators upset to learn that Pakistan’s last oil sector policy came in 1997
It invited the Ministry of Climate Change, Punjab government representatives, the Ministry of Petroleum, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority and representatives of oil refineries to Monday’s meetings.
Climate Change Additional Secretary Joudat Ayaz told the committee that 128,000 deaths occur annually that are directly or indirectly due to climate change.
In addition, he said, children are becoming weaker in fighting organ diseases.
He said that 43pc of pollution in Pakistan “is due to low grade oil being imported and used by the transport industry followed by the energy sector.”
“In Pakistan, Euro-2 standard is applied while the world has gone to Euro-6 technology,” he added.
Almost 9pc of the GDP is affected by climate change, related to low yields and health expenditure, the senators were told.
He said there needs to be strong coordination between the federation and the provinces and standards should be uniform nationwide.
The country’s five oil refineries are still primitive and in their infancy, and our oil has high magnesium and sulphur contents that are harmful to health.
Mr Ayaz said the last refining sector policy came in 1997, and no upgraded framework has emerged since.
However, the ministry has issued regulations and directives to refineries from time to time regarding upgrading technology and usage.
He added that going to Euro-4 and Euro-5 would be counterproductive if vehicles are not upgraded with regular inspections. Tail end emissions and fuel quality need to be considered simultaneously, he said.
The committee directed all the relevant departments to bring written responses and recommendations on the issue so that informed discussions can be held and subsequent actions proposed with respect to legislation and policy.
Senator Khokhar told Dawn that he took notice of this issue because of the smog in Lahore, but also wanted to discuss it because Pakistan is the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change.
“Age span is increasing across the globe but it is feared that it will reduce from two to five years due to pollution in Pakistan. The Punjab government has informed us that 43pc pollution is generated due to the transport sector in Lahore. On the other hand, the frustrating issue was that we could not formulate policy for the oil and petroleum sector since 1997, [while] oil refineries have not bothered to upgrade themselves,” he said.
He said India has shifted to Euro-6 oil while Pakistan is still using Euro-2 oil, but added that it would not be beneficial to introduce Euro-6 fuel unless the automobile sector begins using engines that are suited to this kind of fuel.
“We have also decided to call automobile sector representatives. Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has made an agreement that it would buy the same fuel till 2021 due to which we are not in a position to change the fuel at once as it will be considered violation of the agreement by PSO,” he said.
“The situation is very tricky in Pakistan and we are running out of time. We have to find some solution if we really want to save the future of the next generations,” Mr Khokhar said.
Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2019
BUSHFIRES REACH MELBOURNE AS HEATWAVE FANS AUSTRALIA BLAZES
December 31, 2019
MELBOURNE: Fire threatened three Melbourne suburbs Monday, with residents warned it was too late to flee and they must “act immediately to survive,” as a heatwave fuelled Australia’s deadly bushfire crisis.
Authorities declared a bushfire emergency as an out-of-control blaze bore down on homes in Australia’s second-biggest city.
In Bundoora — just 16 kilometres (10 miles) north of the city centre and home to two major Australian university campuses — fire was “threatening homes and lives”, Victoria Emergency said.
“You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive,” the agency said in a message to residents. “The safest option is to take shelter indoors immediately. It is too late to leave.”
Local media showed images of water bombers flying over the neighbourhoods and families dousing their homes with water hoses in the hope of halting the fire’s spread.
It is the latest emergency in Australia’s devastating summer fire season, which has been turbocharged by a prolonged drought and climate change.
Ten people have been killed, more than 1,000 homes destroyed and more than three million hectares (7.4 million acres) — an area bigger than Belgium — have been scorched.
Conditions worsened on Friday with high winds and temperatures soaring across the country — reaching 47 degrees Celsius (117 Fahrenheit) in Western Australia and topping 40 degrees in every region — including the usually temperate island of Tasmania.
More than a dozen blazes are also raging in the East Gippsland countryside, where authorities said “quite a number” of the 30,000 tourists visiting the usually picturesque region had heeded calls to evacuate.
Some of the fires were burning so intensely that hundreds of firefighters were pulled back beyond a firefront estimated to stretch 1,000 kilometres (600 miles).
It was deemed “unsafe” for them to remain in bushland areas, Gippsland fire incident controller Ben Rankin said, describing the situation as “very intense.” Authorities had warned tourists enjoying Australia’s summer holidays in East Gippsland that the fires would cut off the last major road still open.—AFP