“The Unspoken Challenge: Climate Change and Its Effects on Pakistan”

Pakistan is situated in a region where the effects of climate change are keenly felt, presenting a significant challenge. This challenge is not unique to Pakistan, as many developed countries also grapple with the global issue of climate change.

The impact of climate change on Pakistan has been severe, resulting in global warming, heatwaves, floods, and a notable rise in temperatures. Various factors, including deforestation, air pollution, and governmental negligence, have contributed to this issue.

According to the Inform Risk Index, Pakistan ranks 18 out of 191 countries for having some of the highest disaster risk levels globally. Climate change is not merely an environmental disaster; it also manifests as a social and economic crisis, involving issues of inequality on multiple fronts. The consequences of climate change in Pakistan encompass health challenges such as starvation, the spread of vector-borne diseases like dengue fever, and an increase in aquatic infections.

Monsoon rains triggered unprecedented floods in 2022, submerging one-third of Pakistan and affecting 33 million people, half of whom were children. The floods resulted in loss of lives, missing individuals, and extensive damage to homes. Factors contributing to these floods include monsoon rains, intense heatwaves, and glacier melting—all linked to climate change. Local communities have called for stricter actions from authorities to address this pressing issue.

Organizations like UNICEF, alongside local NGOs, played a crucial role in providing shelter, medicine, and education to children affected by the 2022 floods. However, questions arise about the government’s failure to provide basic health and education facilities to flood-affected people, attributed to a lack of concern and prioritization of political careers over public welfare.

Another alarming environmental concern in Pakistan is smog, particularly in urban areas like Lahore and Karachi. This hazardous combination of smoke and fog results from vehicle emissions, industrial pollution, and crop residue burning, causing health problems and reduced visibility during winter months. Suggestions include improving air quality, promoting cleaner energy sources, and raising awareness about smog’s harmful effects.

Former Foreign Minister and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari emphasized Pakistan’s pivotal role in the climate crisis and the importance of clean air and safe drinking water as basic human rights. He stressed that these rights are as essential as freedom of speech, good education, and a fair trial.

Speakers at a seminar highlighted that developing countries like Pakistan, despite contributing less to greenhouse gas emissions, bear the brunt of climate change. They called on developed nations to acknowledge the environmental impact of their lifestyles and practices on the developing world.

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