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Climate change in Pakistan

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Dec 15, 2021

Climate change in Pakistan is expected to cause wide-ranging effects on the environment and people in Pakistan. As a result of ongoing climate change, the climate of Pakistan has become increasingly volatile over the past several decades; this trend is expected to continue into the future. In addition to increased heat, drought and extreme weather conditions in some parts of the country, the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas threatens many of the most important rivers of Pakistan. Between 1999 and 2018, Pakistan was ranked the 5th worst affected country in terms of extreme climate caused by climate change.[1]

Emissions, impacts and responses of Pakistan related to climate change

2010 Pakistan floods which are likely to be caused or worsened by climate change.

Pakistan contributes little to global greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions, yet it is very vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Pakistan’s lower technical and financial capacity to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change worsen its vulnerability.[2]Food and water security, as well as large displacement of populations are major threats faced by the country.[3] Pakistan’s agriculture-dependent economy is especially susceptible to increasing irregularity and uncertainty over climatic conditions. Like many other South Asian nations, Pakistan is faced by high risk due to climate change effects.[4]

General future projections for Pakistan are expected to be: Pakistan’s projected temperature increase is expected to be higher than the global average; the frequency of hot days and hot nights is expected to increase significantly; major crop yields such as of wheat and rice are expected to decrease significantly; water availability per capita is projected to decrease to an alarming level.[4]

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Pakistan Greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 – 2016

Pakistan’s GhG emissions are less than 1% of the world total, and compared to most countries’ greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions per person are well below average, at under 2 tonnes per year.[5] In 2015 GhG emissions totalled 408 million tonnes of CO2eq; of which 43% was from agriculture in Pakistan; and 46% from energy in Pakistan, such as burning fuel for heat, to power transport, and generate electricity.[6]

Agricultural GhG are mostly methane and nitrous oxide.[6] Methane comes from belching cattle, sheep and goats; manure management; and rice cultivation.[6] Nitrous oxide is mainly from agricultural soils due to the application of synthetic fertilizers, farmyard manure, and crop residue mixes after burning.[6]

Energy GhG is mostly carbon dioxide: in 2019 burning fossil gas, coal and oil each emitted around 80 million tonnes.[5]

It has been suggested that stricter measures against air pollution in Pakistan might include actions that would also limit GhG emissions, such as increasing tax on motor fuels.[7] In 2020 Prime Minister Imran Khan said that no more coal-fired power stations in Pakistan would be given permits.[8] However coal-fired power stations which have already been given permits are expected to be constructed.[9]

As of 2021, Pakistan has not declared a net-zero year goal, however, it has committed to cut 50% of projected emissions by 2030.[10]

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