Climate Change in coastal areas of
Syed Muhammad Abu Baker
days climate change is a global issue impacting the lives of
millions of people forcing them to migrate to other areas
indicating that the phenomenon is real and is bound to
affect the rest of those unaffected by it today.
According to the Global
Climate Risk Index 2014, climate change’s most apparent
impacts can be seen in developing or least developed
Pakistan,which enjoys four
seasons&mild temperatures is blessed with 1,000km of
coastline providing livelihood opportu- nities to millions
of people adjoining these areas but climate change has
threatened their lives due to frequent and intensive
monsoons and lack of coastal resilience to cyclones
According to German Watch
Institute, Pakistan was not included in the Long-Term
Climate Risk Index (1993-2012) which clearly shows that it
wasn’t a disaster hit country but the Climate Risk Index (CRI)
for 2012 ranked Pakistan at number 3 as the most affected
country by climate change revealing that inappropriate
decision making of the government.
Ineffective planning and
over-exploitation of natural resources causing billions of
dollars in damage and driving the economically unstable
country further into poverty.
It has been observed that countries most affected by climate
change contribute very little amounts to CO2 emissions and
the major contributors are developed countries which during
the industrialization period released vast amounts of
greenhouse gases into the atmosphere thus affecting the
course of nature.
This affected Pakistan as well, however it contributes very
little to global green house gasses emissions, as on a per
capita basis it ranks 135 in the world.
The Fifth Assessment Report
by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
suggested that earth is in deep trouble and clearly stated
that emissions should be reduced alongwith investing in
adaptation to climate change for sustainable future.
Scientists have commented that floods in Pakistan (2010,
2011, 2012) are the result of climate change but if proper
adaptation measures had been taken, their devastation could
have been reduced greatly.
It has been observed that Pakistan was never a
disaster-prone country and received adequate rainfall and
seasonal temperatures throughout the year, but as time
passed the frequency of natural calamities increased, which
highlights the fact that human activities have led the whole
country to this point.
Climate change in Pakistan has increased the average annual
temperature by 0.120C and the annual rise in sea level by
1.1 mm causing more rainfalls, sea intrusion, impacting
agricultural output and extreme flooding.
It has been observed that people adjoining northern and
coastal areas of Pakistan are witnessing the worse impacts
Unawareness, ignorance and over-exploitation of natural
resources are some causes and deforestation is one of the
major causes for increasing climate change impacts.
Over the past few years
deforestation in Pakistan has increased at a fast pace of
2.1% per annum, the highest in Asia, followed by mangrove
forest depletion at an alarming rate of 2.3 % annually.
Pakistan is blessed with one of the largest semi-arid
mangroves in the world but has ignored their ecological
importance for long which has caused great damage.
Mangrove cover helps in protecting coastal communities from
harsh climatic conditions as they serve as a shield from
storms and floods and also serve as a potential habitat for
shrimps and marine life, also economically supporting
Using mangroves for fuelwood
for domestic and commercial purposes, camel grazing,
pollution from industrial effluents and reduced fresh water
supply to the forests are some of the main reasons for
reduced mangrove cover in Pakistan.
Fast depleting mangrove
forests have made the coastal areas of Pakistan vulnerable
to harsh climatic conditions especially cyclones, floods,
sea level rise and the impacts of change.
World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) through
its Indus for All Programme, in order to make coastal areas
of Pakistan resilient to climate change, planted 7,500 ha of
mangroves in coastal areas of Sindh and an additional 550 ha
as part of its project Bulding Capacity on Climate Change in
Coastal Areas of Pakistan (CCAP).
These plantations aim to help
mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Rab Nawaz, Director Sindh, WWF-Pakistan said, “We’re losing
land due to climate change because of sea level rise. Damage
by floods is the main problem creating an immense problem
for nearby communities.
The cost of flooding is USD 12 billion, equivalent to the
cost of building the Bhasha Dam.” Increase in temperature
gradually affects the ecosystem, however the problem is
different in every area. In the northern areas the problem
is glacial lake outburst floods.
In Sindh, due to climate
change mangroves are disappearing, even land is being lost,
as millions of hectares of land is lost due to sea
Other than the coastal areas, wetlands of Pakistan are also
facing the impacts of climate change. Migratory birds which
inhabit these wetlands have now changed their patterns hence
affecting the entire ecosystem.
In the 2012-2013 budget, the government of Pakistan
allocated Rs. 135 million for the Climate Change Division
which was then reduced to Rs. 58.8 million in the 2013-2014
budget resulting in a reduction in allocated budget of over
This budget cut exposes the
government’s relaxed attitude in mitigating the impacts of
climate change, also portraying a negative image to
The current budget is not enough to mitigate climate change
impacts as the loss due to these changing weather patterns
have resulted in billions of dollars of loss.
The 2012 floods alone have
cost the government USD 6 billion, which clearly states that
natural calamities are hampering the future development of
According to Anwar Rashid, Secretary, Environment Protection
Department (EPA), “Climate change is affecting our
agriculture and our resources and we need to pay special
attention to environmental issues.
We need to create a better
environment for generations to come.”
The need of the hour is to integrate climate change policies
in the planning and development of the country with emphasis
on mitigation and adaptation efforts in coastal areas of
The government should also take steps for the rehabilitation
of coastal communities so that they are protected from
environmental catastrophes and are able to face risks
associated with possible floods and droughts appropriately.
With increasing awareness on environmental issues it can be
hoped that in future, Pakistan’s coastal areas will become
more resilient to climate change and the coastal communities
will be able to minimize possible threats.