Friday, January 4, 2013

Pakistan pushes ahead on climate policy but action still lags

Rina Saeed Khan in AlertNet: Pakistan faces a range of threatening climate change impacts: changing monsoon patterns, melting glaciers, seasonal flooding, rising sea levels, desertification and increasing water scarcity.

How bad are things? For the past two years, Pakistan has topped the list of the Global Climate Risk Index produced by Germanwatch, a non-governmental organisation that works on global equity issues. In 2010, Pakistan was listed as the number one country in the world affected by climate related disasters; in 2011 it was ranked as number three.

But concrete action to address climate threats has been relatively slow, critics say, and a convoluted process of devolution of power to Pakistan’s provinces and then the reorganisation of federal ministries hasn’t helped speed up the process – though a new federal Ministry of Climate Change may help change that.

“The time for talking is long past,” said Shafqat Kakakhel, a former U.N. Environment Programme official and a member of Pakistan’s original task force on climate change set up by the government in 2008. “What we need to see are projects on the ground. Pakistan is lagging far behind other countries in the South Asian region that are already addressing climate change through concrete actions.”

Pakistan’s federal Ministry of Environment, already struggling to address growing climate-related disasters, ran into problems in June 2011, when an amendment to the country’s constitution suddenly devolved increased power to provincial governments, despite fears that provincial-level officials might lack the capacity and competency to deal with pressing environmental issues....

The Indus River, shot by Guilhem Vellut, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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