Climate Change and Floods in Pakistan By Dr Omer Javed

Climate Change and Floods in Pakistan By Dr Omer Javed

Pakistan is among the top ten countries, which are most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change crisis. This year saw severe heat waves for the country that resulted in pre-monsoon rains, and together with impact from greater and quicker melting of glaciers in the country’s north, and heavy rains that have continued rather frequently and in a widespread manner, both meant that many parts of the country are suffering severe flooding.

A recent article in the press, ‘Over 30m people affected by floods: govt’ pointed out in this regard ‘Historic monsoon rains and flooding in country have affected more than 30 million people over the last few weeks, the country’s climate change minister Sherry Rehman said on Thursday, calling the situation a “climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions”.’

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Pakistan is already suffering from a serious balance of payments crisis, mainly due to high food and oil import costs feeding into the high import bill, which on the other hand, has also significantly contributed to a high level of imported and cost-push inflation in the country. Added with this has come severe flooding, which has not only seriously affected the life and property of people in many parts of the country, but also comes on top of the pandemic and global supply shock causing high inflation and increasing poverty levels.

A recent Bloomberg published article ‘Pakistan seeks help as deadly floods threaten fragile economy’ pointed out in this regard ‘Pakistan has appealed to international donors for help as unprecedented rains trigger a humanitarian crisis and threaten the economy of the South Asian nation. Flash floods from heavy monsoon showers have killed 913 people since June and inundated crops across the country, according to Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman. She said thousands are now without shelter and food and the nation is short on relief goods.’

Having said, reportedly the initial response in terms of multilateral pledged assistance at half a billion dollars is indeed lukewarm. A recent article in the press, ‘International institutions announce $500m assistance’ pointed out ‘The international organisations and financial institutions Thursday announced an immediate assistance of more than 500 million dollars for the flood victims on the appeal of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Damage to crops, like rice and cotton, will not only add to already very serious challenge of food shortage, both domestically and globally, but in the case of Pakistan, fall in exports of cotton likely due to fall in crop output, will also lower put further pressure to already low foreign exchange reserves situation that the country finds itself in. Shortage of cotton output will also likely negatively impact the already difficult global cotton supply situation.

The PM chaired an important meeting with the international donors here for providing relief to the flood victims. The representatives of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, international financial institutions, development partners and donors attended the meeting.’

Hence, given the extent of devastation, this is indeed very low, and it is hoped that much greater assistance will be provided with regard to flood assistance. It also needs to be pointed out here that the climate finance-related commitment will be fulfilled by rich, advanced countries, which they made at the 2015 Paris climate meetings. Moreover, there is a need for developed countries to make quicker progress on transitioning their economies away from fossil fuel usage, among other steps that need to be taken to reduce the significant carbon footprint that developed countries make. This is also indeed very important for developing countries like Pakistan that have little contribution in creating the climate change crisis, but are suffering so much due to the rising global temperature.

Moreover, given the overall difficult balance of payments, and debt situation, it is also hoped that greater IMF’s special drawing rights (SDRs) assistance will be provided, so that developing countries like Pakistan use this to reduce imported inflation, and can have greater fiscal space for the welfare of the people, especially those suffering from the flood crisis.

The impact of floods in terms of damage to crops has also been significant. Therefore, it is indeed exceedingly important, once again, that the climate change crisis is taken all the more seriously in policy globally. A recent Financial Times (FT) published article ‘Climate is a supply chain problem that can’t be ignored’ pointed out ‘The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear that extreme weather events, like drought, flooding or powerful storms, will become more common and more severe as the climate changes. The implications for the production, manufacture and distribution of food and goods around the world are almost bafflingly wide-ranging and complex.’

Damage to crops, like rice and cotton, will not only add to already very serious challenge of food shortage, both domestically and globally, but in the case of Pakistan, fall in exports of cotton likely due to fall in crop output, will also lower put further pressure to already low foreign exchange reserves situation that the country finds itself in. Shortage of cotton output will also likely negatively impact the already difficult global cotton supply situation.

A recent Bloomberg-published article ‘The world’s cotton supply keeps shrinking, hit by drought, heat’ pointed out in this regard ‘Extreme weather is wreaking havoc upon virtually all of the world’s largest cotton suppliers. In India, the top-producing country, heavy rains and pests have cut into cotton crops so much that the nation is importing supplies. A heat wave in China is raising concerns about the upcoming harvest there. In the US, the largest exporter of the commodity, a worsening drought is ravaging farms and is set to drag production to the lowest level in more than a decade. And now Brazil, the second-largest exporter, is battling extreme heat and drought that have already cut yields by nearly 30%.’ Hence, added to this cotton supply shortage, as a result of climate change crisis, is in the shape of loss in output in Pakistan due to floods.’

Climate Change and Floods in Pakistan By Dr Omer Javed

Source: https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/08/28/climate-change-and-floods-in-pakistan/

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