KARACHI: A UK-based climate change expert has said that there will be an exceptional change in the temperatures in Pakistan as a whole in the coming years, but that the province of Sindh will be less affected as compared to the other parts of the country.
Speaking to senior officials and heads of various departments of the City District Government Karachi on the second day of a training workshop on climate change, environmentalist Matthew Savage added that the temperature increase in Pakistan as a whole would be higher than the expected global average increase. Climate change projections up to the year 2080 were discussed at the workshop.
The projected temperature increase in the north is somewhat higher than in the south of Pakistan, Mr Savage said, adding that the projected temperature increase in winter is more than that in summer.
Discussing the impact of climate change in the future, the scientist said that there were chances of decline in irrigated wheat yield in the semi-arid areas of Pakistan in the range of nine to 30 per cent for a temperature increase of one degree centigrade to four degrees centigrade.
About 80 per cent of the nation’s food and fibre needs are met by irrigated agriculture, with the canal irrigation network mainly dependent on glaciers of the Hindu Kush and Himalayas, which are believed to be receding. He said that climate change is expected to result in changes in land and water resources that will subsequently affect agriculture productivity.
Speaking about the monsoon season, Mr Savage said that climate change could influence monsoon dynamics and cause summer precipitation levels to drop, as well delays in the start of the monsoon season. There may also be longer breaks between rainy periods, he said.
According to him, Karachi may however face the threat of rising sea levels by the year 2100 , and therefore better monitoring and data collection is required to calibrate models correctly. More saline-tolerant species of mangroves should be planted, and there should be a strict control on the removal of mangrove trees. Further, there needs to be community involvement, as well as a topographical survey of coastal and mangrove areas, he said.
He regretted that climate change research was ‘essentially neglected’ in Pakistan until recently.
The local administration is the first line of response to climate change and as such they should acquaint themselves with the changes of climate and should know more about the impact of drought, water shortages, wild fires, flooding, rising sea levels and infrastructure disruption, he asserted.
The visiting expert also shared his views on the issue of adaptation and responses, and called for promoting and facilitating new development and infrastructure that was located, designed and constructed for the climate it will experience over its design life.
During the session on Monday, the environmentalist stated that deforestation, along with a substantial increase in the number of motor vehicles and industrial zones, had contributed significantly to the rapid changes in the global climate.
With the melting of huge glaciers, the sea surface is expected to rise by two metres, which would result in the sinking of many islands and a further increase in the populations of many already overburdened cities, he said.
While updating the EDOs and senior officers of the CDGK, Mr Savage had remarked that human beings around the world should bring about changes in their behavior, as climate change was a problem faced not by a single country, but by the entire world, and it could only be dealt with by coordinated efforts.
We should also use natural resources with great care, so that the next generation should not suffer from their scarcity, he added.
Hinting about the availability of funds for undertaking research and development of mitigation mechanisms, the British expert said that Pakistan had never asked for assistance in this sector, while other developing countries had been getting help from the world community. Pakistan should also get this assistance from the developed world, he suggested.
The two-day workshop was held on the directives of City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal with the collaboration of the British Deputy High Commission in Karachi to update the government EDOs and senior officers on global climate changes and its effects on coastal cities.