Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, but since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels (like coal, oil, and gas), which produces heat-trapping gases.

Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known events in Earth's history.

Pakistan's climate change concerns include increased variability of monsoons, the likely impact of receding Himalayan glaciers on the Indus River system, the decreased capacity of water reservoirs, reduced hydropower during drought years, and extreme events including floods and droughts.

Pakistan experiences recurring heatwaves and droughts, riverine and flash floods, landslides, and sea storms or cyclones. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of these events as well as exacerbate people's vulnerabilities.

There are two ways we can deal with climate change; mitigation and adaptation.

Mitigation is the process of limiting the negative impacts of climate change and its effects. The most common form of mitigation is reducing carbon dioxide emissions to limit the warming of the Earth. This can be carried out by, for example transitioning from fossil fuels to greener energy, increasing the uses of electric vehicle usage, and reducing the amount we fly. The mitigation measures are those actions that are taken to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

The method of mitigation can come in the form of financial changes. This can be done most effectively by removing the fossil fuel subsidies, which can reduce the cost of fossil fuel energy production, provide the companies with resources at a reduced price and lower the cost of fossil fuel consumption, all of which encourage the continued use of fossil fuel.

In Pakistan, the emission of Green House Gases is low as compared to the international standard. According to the 2008 report, in Pakistan total  greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions were 310 million tons of CO2 equivalent. The energy sector is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emission. It accounts for nearly 51% of s emission followed by the agricultural sector, industrial processes, land use, land-use change, forestry emission, and waste. As such, the most important targets for mitigation efforts focused on the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions from the energy and agriculture sectors.  

Adaptation involves reducing the negative effects of climate change and adjusting to them, as well as taking advantage of any positive opportunities that arise. These methods fill in the gaps where mitigation fails, particularly if emissions targets are not met and the planets continue to warm. The adaptation measures are based on reducing the vulnerability of climate change effects.

Pakistan makes a small contribution to total global greenhouse gas emissions, but it is among the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change, and it shas the very low technical and financial capacity to adapt to its adverse impacts

Some adaptation measures can take to avoid the increase of pollutant emissions:

  • Planning and developing solutions to reduce the impacts of extreme weather and natural disasters.
  • Crop  diversification: making crops more able to adapt to climate change and reducing the risk of food shortages.
  • Restoring the damaged ecosystems and replanting the forests.
  • Identify ‘no build areas’ where the coastal flooding is most likely (resulting from sea-level rise).

About the Author: Aqsa Abid has completed her BS in Environmental Sciences from GC Women University Sialkot.