Pakistan in the recent years has come to terms with several unexpected natural disasters. These events were inimical to infrastructure and livelihoods.Thousands of people have been injured, displaced and killed because of unforeseen floods, droughts, and cyclones. Such natural hazards are a stark reminder of the fact that Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. According to the Global Climate Risk Index,Pakistan ranks 33rd overall on the index and 8th on the list of 10 countries most affected by climate change from 1998 to 2017.
A report by the United Nations Environment Programme avers the increasing population to be putting extreme pressure on the environment. It states that urban areas are being affected more. Contributing factors include an increasing population concentration, meaning higher population density, agglomeration economies and higher energy usage in these areas. In Pakistan, majority of the energy generated is through thermal power plants. Resultantly, the average temperature in Pakistan is rising due to higher greenhouse gases’ emissions.Atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas, has risen from 280 ppm in 1750 to 410 ppm in 2018. Other greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, have also recorded a rise in their atmospheric concentrations.
Additionally, forest loss has halved over the past 30 years according to the 2015 Global Forest Resources Assessment. Between 1990 and 2015, global forest area declined by 3%, but the rate of loss has halved between the 1990s and the past decade. This is indicative of people using the available resources more responsibly and sustainably because of awareness regarding deforestation and its consequences. However, the rate of deforestation in Pakistan during the last decade of the previous century was greater than other countries in the same income group. It is indicative that economic growth will not help Pakistan grow out its environmental problems and so effective policy and private initiatives need to be introduced.
Forests provide clean water, sequester and store carbon, provide timber and non-timber forest products. Forests are a valuable habitat for animal and plants species as well. Tropical forests, while covering only 15% of the global land area, contain over 50% of land animals and plants. The area of land covered by forest and trees is therefore an important indicator of a country’s environmental condition.
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