from Climate Alert Volume
7, No. 4 July-August 1994
Pakistan Country Report
The most significant impact of climate
change on Pakistan is likely to come from the increased variation
of the monsoons. Doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere, according to some
models, could increase average summer monsoon rains by up to 60 percent.
Resulting floods would hit the densely populated areas which produce
most of the food, fiber and fodder in the country; they would destroy
irrigation systems and crops, especially cotton which is the main
cash crop of Pakistan. Erosion and landslides from the aggravated
rains would jeopardize the fragile livelihoods of people in the mountain
ecosystems Another frequently used model, by contrast, foresees summer
monsoon rains decreasing, placing heavy stress on winter wheat, the
main food staple. In either case, changes in agriculture and redesign
of irrigation will be essential.
With projected doubling of heavy rainfall, adaptation to more frequent
flooding is a very high priority. The 1992 and 1993 floods make clear
that Pakistan needs to provide for more flood control. The current
bias is for large civil works, but the team suggests development of
a revised water sector investment plan for 2000 - 2010 which would
focus on experience gained from on-farm water management and farmers'
field drainage rather than on the previous engineering and expansion
oriented plan for 1990.
Survival of the people in this densely settled, mostly arid land is
critically dependent on irrigation supported by the Indus River and
its tributaries. Cereal crops are already under stress. If average
temperature increased by 2.5° C, heat stress might reduce wheat
yields by as much as 60 percent. Pakistan already has most of its
arable land under cultivation, and agriculture now produces one-fourth
of the GDP and employs one half of the labor force. Although these
shares may shrink, wheat harvest yields will have to more than double
to feed the nation's large and rapidly growing population; farmland
will have to be protected and allowed to expand. A high priority is
research to provide a clearer understanding of how forecasted heat
stress will affect crops, investigations to develop heat resistant
crop varieties and experiments with changed planting dates.
Even though average rainfall may increase there may also be more drought,
although glaciers in the northern mountains could moderate this effect.
Semi-desert areas outside the Indus Basin may suffer most severely
if drought appears. Rangelands are overgrazed and producing only one-third
of the potential nutrients they might yield. If there are variations
in river flow as a result of changes in precipitation, the generation
of hydropower might also be impaired.
Although Pakistan is less vulnerable to sea level rise than some of
its South Asia neighbors, the shoreline of its only major coastal
city, Karachi, has retreated in recent decades. More severe monsoons
and sea level rise may flood the city's street for longer periods.
The Indus delta, south of Karachi, already retreating because of a
sharply reduced silt load, could lose up to 25 percent of its area
if seas rise. Saline water would intrude and mangroves would be destroyed,
harming fisheries which account for 30 percent of exports. Coastal
resources will need more protection.
Pakistani forests are a dwindling resource, now constituting less
than five percent of the nation's area. Small shifts in average temperature
would lead to large shifts in latitude of optimal growing zones for
many tree species. Forest resources will need to be preserved and
enhanced. The study suggests creating economic incentives for forestry
stewardship by integrating management with other activities such as
agriculture, education and training programs. Climate change may shift
the balance of cost effectiveness toward investment in the revival
of riverain forests and improvement of forest resources so sustainable
usage could be achieved by 2025. Other actions could be taken to make
PakiClimate change could increase heat stroke deaths which are correlated
with temperature spikes and now kill dozens every year. Increased
rain would fill more stagnant ponds which would lead to more waterborne
diseases and malaria unless more control was exerted.
Greenhouse gases in Pakistan are emitted from fossil fuel burning,
cement manufacture, rice and livestock production and open dumping,
but at present there are not sufficient data for a complete emissions
inventory. However, the nation requires large amounts of energy, and
the country team has proposed the following options:
· energy conservation
more efficient appliances and lighting, fuel economy vehicles, operation
and maintenance of such facilities as industrial boilers
· decreased transmission and distribution losses
especially natural gas leakage
minimize waste from flaring
· investment in non fossil fuel energies
natural gas, nuclear, hydro, renewables
· reforestation/afforestation programs to create carbon sinks
· methane recovery from landfills
· better livestock feed to reduce methane emissions
Team Leader: Syed Ayub Qutub
FAX: (92-51) 254 024
Study Conducted By: Pakistan Consultant: Enterprise and Development
Implementing Agency: Urban and Environment Affairs Division, Government
stan forests a net carbon sink.