Pakistan would require $10.70 billion per year as the cost of adaptation to climate change
In January 2010, a massive landslide in Pakistan created a natural lake Attabad Lake in Hunza, burying 20 people beneath it, displacing thousands and submerging numerous villages.
Rising temperatures and melting glaciers are the reason behind the risk of outburst flooding events which threaten over 7 million people. A total of 3,044 glacial lakes have emerged in Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region due to increasing temperatures, according to a UNDP report. At least 33 of these glacial lakes are dangerous, posing threat of glacial lake outburst floods which releases enormous amount of water and debris in few hours, triggering the loss of lives and livelihoods and, destruction of infrastructure.
These flooding events are only one aspect of the climate change consequences faced by Pakistan – world’s seventh most vulnerable country to climate change – which is facing floods, droughts, heat wave and water scarcity too.
Economic damage to Pakistan from Climate Change
Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority estimate that extreme climate events between 1994 and 2013 have resulted in an average annual economic loss of almost US dollars 4 billion. The last five floods (2010-2014) have resulted in financial losses of over US$ 18 billion with 38.12 million people affected, 3.45 million houses damaged and 10.63 million acres of crops destroyed. Also, over 1200 people lost their lives due to the record heat wave in Karachi in 2015.
According to UNDP’s Climate Public Expenditures and Institutional Review 2015 for next 40 years, Pakistan would require $10.70 billion per annum as the cost of adaptation to climate change and mitigation cost would range from $8 billion to $17 billion. It requires a strong national will along with solid legislation like the climate change bill to efficiently mitigate the effects of and adapt to extreme climate changes.
Pakistan, a country of 207 million, is in urgent need of advanced technologies and international climate finance to fight imminent disasters.
International climate finance is money pledged by rich, carbon-emitting countries (who have the greater share of responsibility in causing climate change) to poorer, climate-vulnerable countries.
How much Climate Fund has been granted to Pakistan?
Pakistan has so far received around USD 100 million grant portfolio comprising of climate change related projects, which are currently under different implementation stages, Syed Abu Ahmed Akif, federal secretary of ministry of climate change, informed.
Among these grants, Global Environment Facility (GEF), Adaptation Fund (AF) and Green Climate Fund (GCF) are the major sources and playing an important role in fulfilling Pakistan Mitigation and Adaptation needs.”
Pakistan and Green Climate Fund
Pakistan’s Ministry of Climate Change is executing many initiatives to address the issues of vulnerable communities, however, the launching of “Scaling-up of Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) Risk Reduction in Northern Pakistan (GLOF-II)” is the one of the major projects.
Pakistan has been granted $37 million by the Green Climate Fund last year for Pakistan to tackle glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) through an adaptation project.
Explaining the significance of funding for Pakistan, Syed Abu Ahmed Akif, said: “The project will install engineering structures, assist in preparing disaster management policies to reduce risk, protect local communities and provide early warning of devastating flood events” thus, contributing to a climate-resilient sustainable development in the long-term.
“The 5-year-project will be implemented in Northern Pakistan, in all districts of Gilgit–Baltistan and five districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa” he added. The project will continue till June 2022.
This is how the project will help Pakistan reduce the risk from climate change:
- Around 250 engineering structures including dams, ponds, spillways, tree plantation and drainage to reduce risk will be build.
Some 29 million people are expected to benefit from the project.
- Development of disaster management policies and the introduction of weather monitoring stations, flood gauges, hydrological modeling and early warning systems will increase the ability to respond rapidly to flood scenarios.
- The project will generate employment opportunities for the local communities.
- It will prevent loss of lives and infrastructure of community some 5.3 million direct beneficiaries in the communities of all districts of Gilgit-Baltistan and five districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
Pakistan’s Climate Change adaptation needs
Although “Pakistan emit less than 1% of total annual global greenhouse gases, yet we are ranked amongst top 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change” which affects millions, according to Federal Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid.
In its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) report to the UNFCCC, Pakistan is likely to emit four times more GHGs by 2030, which would require US$40 billion to mitigate the effects.
To show its commitment to combating the adverse effects of climate change, Pakistan has recently passed the Climate Change Bill 2017 and intends to launch Pakistan Climate Change Fund.
Experts call for Transparency in Climate Finance
Although, Pakistan has received some climate grants but experts call for better accountability and transparency mechanisms to improve Pakistan’s capacity to access and manage global climate funds.
“While the GCF is committed to urgently provide resources to communities and countries impacted by climate change, it is also concerned about the transparency and the proper use of those resources” says Kashmala Kakakhel, an economist and expert on climate finance.
To best utilize the climate funds, “Pakistan needs to play an active role in shaping how the $100 billion will be spent in the coming years. As an energy-starved country, it should use climate finance as a leverage to diversify its energy mix, move towards renewable energy solutions, bring in the private sector, and develop new business models that will increase employment opportunities in the process and contribute to the economy” Kashmala suggests.
Being an energy-deficient and climate-change-vulnerable county, Pakistan requires a strong national commitment and leadership and innovative business models to gain financial and technical assistance from both domestic and international players.