Development and Climate Change



Depending on future emissions of greenhouse gases, global temperatures are going to rise by 2 to 4 degrees in the coming few years. The main impact of climate change will not be felt through higher temperatures, but through the change in hydrological cycle. The annual and seasonal rainfall will change as we are witnessing in the monsoon flooding this year

The monsoon showers highlight a bitter reality. The poor are the most vulnerable to climate change, and the developing world will bear the brunt of future climate induced calamities. Economically, the flood alone has caused us millions of rupees in infrastructure and real estate damage, and the damage is continuously increasing.

Pakistan’s biggest challenge with climate change is development. The country has employed a top down development approach. If we visit major cities like Islamabad, Peshawar and Lahore we find metro buses, well-made streets and greenery around us, though in specific places. The top-down approach relies on higher authority figures for determining larger goals, believing that those ends will filter down to lower segments of society. In theory, the top-down development model is excellent. But we need to understand that it neglects strategic initiatives of other policy subsystems, lowers participation, and demands extensive ground knowledge at the top level.

There is an important link between development and mitigating the impacts of climate. One of the best strategies is reducing poverty to improve the adaptive capacity of people in rural areas, and making them less vulnerable to climate change. Generally speaking, the adaptation should focus on sustainable development and focus on economic growth, improving education and disaster preparedness. Pakistan is confronting highly variable rainfall, but there is no system in place to manage this variability and prepare the lower sections for the next flood.

The government ought to understand that investing in disaster preparedness is efficient and reduces after disaster spending. The major limitation in coping with the impacts of climate change for the middle to lower class population is lack of capacity and awareness. The latter has complicated things and made the atmosphere uncertain for the people who experience the worst impact of climate change. They should be equipped with the information to interpret the outcomes of their living style, which usually includes mud houses, with poor sanitary outlets. This way the society, and government can tailor adaptation strategies depending on the needs of each locality. People in villages are unaware of sustainable practices that can help mitigate the ramifications of climate change. Their reliance on age-old practices has destroyed villages, killed almost a 1000 people and economically stressed the entire country.





by Amna Sheikh


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