ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s federal cabinet on Tuesday approved the formation of a cabinet committee chaired by the minister for climate change to give recommendations on short, medium, and long term projects to mitigate the growing effects of climate change.
Pakistan is among the top eight countries most affected by climate change while it’s share in global warming gas emissions is only 1 percent of the world.
The country has faced unprecedented monsoon downpours this year, with 635 killed in rains and floods since June 14, according to the National Disaster Management Authority’s (NDMA) latest figures. The dead include 136 women and 233 children. More than 196 deaths were reported from the impoverished southwest province of Balochistan, 141 from Punjab, 137 from Sindh, and 122 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
According to a latest alert by the Flood Forecasting Division of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, India released 1,71,797 Cusecs from Ujh Barrage on August 15, with likely water flow increases in River Ravi at Jassar ranging between 70,000 Cusecs to 1,00,000 Cusecs, which could result in medium to high flood levels.
“The cabinet unanimously approved the formation of a cabinet committee under the chairmanship of Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, which will also include ministers from the relevant ministries,” a statement issued by the prime minister’s office said after a meeting of the cabinet.
The committee will give recommendations on short, medium, and long term projects to prevent the effects of climate change, the statement added.
“We are glad that the prime minister has announced the formation of an inter-ministerial committee on climate adaptation with the participation of agriculture, food security, water, and others to sit together and devise an action plan for adaptation for all these sectors,” climate change minister Sherry Rehman said during the briefing to cabinet.
The minister said Pakistan would be water scarce by 2025 and the country has faced 152 extreme events in the last two decades with constant shifts in rainfall patterns, intensity, and frequency.
“We are also home to the hottest cities in the world for three years straight with temperatures rising up to 53.7C, which is an unlivable situation,” Rehman told the cabinet, adding that due to its impact on food security Pakistan had an up to 40 percent food insecure population.
“We have lost 1.8 million acres of fertile land to sea intrusion due to rising sea levels and lose 27,000 acres of forest annually,” she added.
Speaking in the cabinet, prime minister Shehbaz Sharif said climate change, water security, and food security were three interrelated challenges and needed urgent measures to combat them and protect future generations.
“The government is well aware of the expected problems arising from climate change,” the PM said, “and solving this problem is among the top priorities of the government.”