Climate Change: Is Pakistan doing enough?

A lot must be done to keep the generalists away from making any decisions and calling the shots, and professionals should be given entry who have the capacity and the legitimacy to resolve problems, writes author.

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Pakistan is threatened with many challenges related to climate change. Be it global standing or regional vulnerability caused due to climatic threats, Pakistan is on the brink of utter disaster. The situation is very alarming and the history of it makes for an interesting read.

Is there someone looking after climate change at the provincial or federal level in Pakistan? It appears no one is in charge of climate-related issues. Not even the bare minimum is being done at federal or provincial levels regarding climate.

The Ministry of Climate Change at the federal level is downplayed to act only as a regulator, and one that has the technical capacity to maneuver only unto the limitations of checking the quality of ambient airs.

Similarly, at all the provincial levels, there are environmental protection agencies that look after the conformity of environmental regulations in various sectors contributing to certain types of pollution.

Read more: Op-ed: Climate change cannot be denied

These provincial agencies act as regulators and enforce environmental laws. At the provincial levels, like at the federal level, there is no agency, which is technically sound, composed of professionals, and equipped with facilities, so as to counter the grand horror of climate change.

Meaningless analysis of the data collected

As for the data and statistics, there is much fragmentation in the coordination mechanism. The question is not of a dearth of data, but rather, how data is made meaningful. At any provincial-level, one can ensure that climate-oriented data is being collected.

The aforementioned agencies only ensure the quality of air by recording the various gaseous emissions in the ambient airs. The Pakistan Meteorological Center(s) throughout the country pick up conventional weather data by various means.

A stockpile of policies, but where is the outcome?

As for policies, laws, rules and regulations, we are more affluent than the developed nations. When it comes to drafting policies, odes are worth writing to our expertise, but when given to see them on the ground being implemented, only darkened eulogies come to mind.

The Ministry of Climate Change could raise such independent and specialized climate change provincial bureaus composed of such technical and scientific people as required to get the job done

The National Climate Change Policy 2012 remains a document of the past being pushed to irrelevance, though it was a vital document that elevated the Division of Climate Change to a Ministry level, and yet, the promising implementation has not yet taken off. Though a devolved subject, yet the NCCP grants legitimacy to the Ministry of Climate Change to wreathe all the provinces together in one garland to manage the national issue of climate change.

The Climate Change Act 2017 was another move towards climate consolidation that promised to establish the Pakistan Climate Change Authority, Climate Change Council and Climate Change Fund, all of which was last time seen in 2017 when the said Act was passed. The vision 2030 remains a virgin vision thus far.

The integration of NCCP with other national and provincial policies is what the Ministry of Climate Change must start up with. The pace cries for utmost acceleration in creating a great awakening on the subject of climate change, which we have already so long slept over.

Read more: Let Us Talk About Climate Change, Shall We?

The international/multilateral agreements that Pakistan is a signatory of are far from being implemented with the tragedy that there is no awareness and institutional capacity at the provincial levels to decode those agreements, let alone their implementation. The Ministry has to steer the whole frame of climate change by taking together the provinces.

Realization of responsibilities and politicization of climate change

Ministry of Climate Change must realize that it is the organization at the federal level entirely responsible for catering to climate change affairs. The integration of such a central body with the provinces would be the next challenge given to over politicization of everything. Climate is something that should not be made political, though globally it is something that has become an element of political decisiveness, as in the Biden-Trump thaw.

Rechecks and protecting the organizations from the influence of bureaucracy

The policy and legal regime need to be revisited as the multiple laws, regulations and policies need to be brought under one banner being encapsulated in a meaningful manner without the show of over aesthetics. The regulatory regime is important but what must take precedence over it would be the technical regime, manning, and managing of the whole climate affair. The organizational set up should be steered and manned by professionals and be kept as far away as possible from the typical, hardcore public sector channels, ranks and files, and the fattening bureaucracy.

What more can be done?

On the provincial levels, there is no mechanism, awareness, expertise or institutional capacity for understanding the phenomenon of climate change and managing it. Similarly, on the provincial levels, in conjunction with all line departments and agencies, the Ministry of Climate Change could raise such independent and specialized climate change provincial bureaus composed of such technical and scientific people as required to get the job done.

These climate change bureaus need to be established and equipped with the facilities and manned with the human resource capable of undertaking such scientific studies and making such informed decisions as required to counter the horrors of climate change. This will ensure the sectoral integration without which climate change management is impossible. The provincial climate change infrastructure bases should form the feeding grounds for the central office to set the national tone for climate change management.

Read more: Op-ed: Monsoon disasters just a trailer of climate change storm that lies ahead for Pakistan

Nature and nurture, along with the potential of the Pak-Met office, should be integrated and enhanced fully at the federal and provincial levels with the climate change organizations. Data and statistics need to be enhanced and made up to the mark as being internationally acceptable with proper transcriptions and applications. A lot must be done to keep the generalists away from making any decisions and calling the shots, and the professionals should be given the entry who have both the capacity and the legitimacy to handle these problems.

We still need someone who will look after climate change in Pakistan.

Muhammad Jahangir Kakar is a civil servant and socio-political analyst based in Quetta works for the government of Baluchistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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