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Impact of glacial melting in Pakistan highlighted

Dec 16, 2009

The adverse impacts of climate change on Pakistan were highlighted at a side event in Copenhagen. As the temperatures rise further, the country is going to be badly hit by changes in monsoon patterns, sea level rise and the melting of glaciers.

Copenhagen: The melting of the glaciers will have an adverse impact on the entire South Asian region, said Dr R.K. Pachauri, the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who came to a side event organised by Pakistan’s Ministry of Environment and IUCN at the climate summit here on Monday.

He termed the Indian ministry’s recent reports of glaciers in the Himalayas being in a healthy state as incorrect, calling it “voodoo science”.

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The idea behind the side event was to draw attention to “climate change and vulnerability challenges in Pakistan” and Dr Arshad Khan, the executive director of the Global Change Impact Studies Centre in Pakistan, began with a list of ways in which Pakistan will be impacted by climate change.

From sea level rise to the melting of glaciers, from water scarcity to changes in the monsoon, Pakistan will be badly hit as temperatures rise further.

Women and children will be the most affected and Dr Nizamuddin from the University of Gujrat launched a ‘Climate Change and Gender Report’ focussing on Pakistan, recently completed by his research team and funded by UNFPA.

Pakistan’s Minister for Environment Hameed Ullah Jan Afridi spoke about the negotiations and was joined by the head of the National Environmental Protection Agency in Afghanistan, Mustafa Zaher, who happens to be a nephew of the late King Zaher Shah. He urged the world community to act before it is too late, saying that “this is the only planet that we have to live on”.

Senior economist Dr Pervaiz Amir highlighted the other threats facing Pakistan at the moment. Aside from melting glaciers, Pakistan’s agriculture is in turmoil and he said people would have to move away from water intensive crops like rice, cotton and sugarcane.

He pointed out that the Indus Delta region faces devastation with sea water intrusion up to 2.5 km upstream into the river; and lastly, rain patterns are changing dramatically. This winter, for instance, “we did not get the rains that farmers depend upon”.

“We live in a multiple threat system and most of our development budget is going to fight extremism; we are unable to focus on the climate change front.”

He called for the setting up of an adaptation centre and for more efficient management of water. He said that adaptation funding was urgently needed in Pakistan.

This money should be coming out from the negotiations under way at the conference.

But according to Nilofer Hafeez, Deputy Secretary Climate Change: “The talks are more or less in a deadlock right now. We are not moving forward. The Kyoto Protocol is the most crucial issue for developing countries. Unless the emission numbers (promised by the developed countries in Kyoto) are done there shouldn’t be further action.”

Source : The Dawn
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