Climate change, a global common with regional and national impact, has emerged as a significant challenge contributing to diverse aspects of national security. These range from impact on internal stability to different dimensions of human security each warrant specific responses under an overarching policy concept. Pakistan as a country is indexed for high vulnerability and diverse impact as witnessed in extreme climate change related events. Ministry of Climate Change formulated a national policy in 2012 to make Pakistan a climate change resilient country and outlined different areas of policy action. Five years on, it is appropriate now to reappraise the contributions of the policy while taking into account contemporary developments. Concurrently, different international and national initiatives are consistently being executed to enhance awareness of the recurrent effects of climate change. This paper aims to contribute towards analysing the impact of climate change
on different aspects of national security and suggest a way forward for Pakistan.
Keywords: Climate Change, Stability, Vulnerability, Global Phenomenon
“All across the world, in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms are abruptly putting an end to the long-running debate over whether or not climate change is real. Not only is it real, it's here, and it effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster”.-
"Barack Obama, April. 3, 2006"
Over the years, the phenomenon of climate change has evolved from an environmental issue to a serious security challenge, which is currently being debated as a security as well as development challenge around the globe. In the present day national security settings, climate change adds new hostile and stress factors which have serious consequences. Climate change, if not combated effectively can act as a catalyst for adverse political and social change. Pakistan is already facing multiple security and development challenges and an addition of climate change is likely to make the matrix even more complex. Therefore, a collective effort by state, society and international community is indispensable. If a state is fragile and society is not able to cope with climatic hazards, it results in environmental stress; which if exploited by hostile forces can generate negative societal consequences. Pakistan’s vulnerability can be assessed from its huge population of 180 million of which nearly 54 Million are food deficient. Our youth is increasingly being affected by calorie insufficiency in their daily diet. Moreover, floods and droughts threaten agriculture; scarcity of water carries the potential to gravely affect human security. At the same time, societal capacity is adversely affected by extremely low human development index, poverty and societal fissures. Climate change is particularly a real national security threat however, there exists no proper research and policy framework on the subject. This paper attempts to deepen the knowledge and suggest policies and interventions to facilitate the process and combat it at all levels.
Climate Change Indicators in Pakistan
Environment and climate change are inextricably linked to sustainable development. Pakistan requires greater progress in environmental protection. Water scarcity is increasing, land productivity is decreasing and climate change is worsening these threats. The risk of natural disasters, exacerbated by climate change as well as economic shocks, is adding to existing vulnerabilities.9 Climate change is inevitable and is a prospective 'Threat Multiplier' for Pakistan's national security as Pakistan is placed very high in Climate Risk and Vulnerability. In recent years, visible changes in Pakistan’s hydrological cycle have been observed in the form of:-
· Changing precipitation pattern
· Water availability periods
· Frequency and intensity of heat waves
· Precipitation events
· Weather-induced natural disasters
Precipitation over Pakistan has increased on an average of 25%. However, no significant change is expected in annual precipitation in near future. It is projected that climate change will increase the variability of monsoon rains resulting in increased frequency and severity of floods and droughts. Pakistan contributes very little (135th) to Green House Gases (GHGs) but remains one of the most vulnerable countries. It contributes only about 0.8% of the total global GHG emissions. Moreover, total estimated area under forest cover is around 4.22 million hectares, which comprises of 4.8% of total landmass.
Key Features of Climate Change Policy of Pakistan
Climate change is not only a development challenge, but also a development opportunity. In order to cope with the challenge and tap the opportunity, the Ministry of Climate Change has prepared a National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) approved by the Federal Cabinet in September 201212. Later on, a Framework for Implementation of National Climate Change Policy was developed in 201313. Broader goal of the climate change policy is to ensure that climate change is mainstreamed in the economically and socially vulnerable sectors of economy to steer the
country towards climate resilient development, whereas implementation framework includes all those things, which are doable and implementable. Adaptation, mitigation, and transfer of technology are the major areas, which require policy interventions. Provision of finance, capacity building, and raising awareness are the other important areas, which also require due
attention. Adaptation and Mitigation are two key methods to respond to climate change. In adaptation, water resources, agriculture, livestock, health, forestry, biodiversity, disaster preparedness, vulnerable ecosystems and socio-economic measures are the key sectors which require policy interventions. Under mitigation, energy, transport, agriculture, livestock, forestry, town planning and waste management are the major areas needing policy interventions. International community is keen in mitigation measures, but Pakistan should focus more on adaptation measures. Pakistan needs to position itself and present its case to the developed world to secure adaptation funding. It should ensure the access and effective use of opportunities available internationally for adaptation and mitigation
Implications for Pakistan
· Food Security: The Himalayan and Karakorum glaciers will retreat in the next 3 to 4 decades19, increasing flows in the Indus River System. Thereafter, it will reduce by 30 to 40%, threatening food and livelihood security of the Indus Basin Irrigation System dependants, besides impacting 95% of total irrigated land. 4,544 ha agriculture land has been destroyed along Humbas Wali creek since 1952.20 This area was irrigated through Ochito River by regular flow of Indus River up to 1960s.
· Public Health: Climate change induces extreme temperatures, and rainfall events may cause increasing incidents of diarrheal and many vector borne and viral diseases. An alarming 20,000 got affected by Dengue in 2011. Since then Punjab, the central province, has harnessed it well while the situation in other two provinces is worrisome. A significant increase in epidemics would be a dire consequence bearing heavy price tags.
· Water Security: Pakistan is extremely short of fresh water resources. Itis a Water-stressed country and water availability heading towards lessthan 1000 cubic meter/y by 2035 as predicted in World Bank report2006. Pakistan’s primary sources of water are rainfall (50 million acre feet) by monsoon and westerly winds and river inflows (141million acre feet) in the Indus River System fed by glaciers and snowmelt from theHindukush-Karakoram-Himalayas. Water scarcity by 2030 would
impact agricultural productivity and exacerbate food insecurity, threatening trans-boundary conflicts.
·Coastline’s Inundation: As a result of rising sea level, large scale inundation of coastline and recession of flat sandy beaches, upstream incursion of saline water in the Indus delta, and risk to mangroves, coral reefs and breeding grounds of fish are expected. There is an enhanced risk to life and property in coastal areas due to increased intensity of tropical cyclones, combined with sea level rise; high risk for Karachi, the southern coastal mega city, and other coastal areas of Sindh-Makran coast.21
· Rise in Sea Level: There is proof of rise of sea level along the Pakistan coast which would have following implications:-
· Erosion of coastal regions
· Coastal plain flooding and wetland
· Deltaic plains inundation
· Salinization of aquifers and soils
· Loss of habitation for wildlife, fish, birds, and plants.
· National Security: The stabilising effects of droughts, storms, floods
and intense weather could overwhelm disaster-response/management
capabilities of a government or state. Pakistan has witnessed recurring
floods and droughts in recent decades.
Conservation of aquatic ecosystems, trans-boundary bio-diversity zones, automated network of weather stations and regular and systematic sharing of scientific data through:-
· Regional Cooperation and Knowledge Exchange through SAARC Convention on Cooperation Environment
· Adoption of eco-friendly approaches and technologies, South Asia could emerge as a world leader in low carbon technology.
· Effective regional programs in early warning, preparedness and management including response and rehabilitation like SAARC Agreement on Rapid Response to Natural Disasters must be initiated in the region.
For effective adaptation, mitigation and disaster management four major areas need to be worked on. Raising awareness, organizational and institutional adjustments, capacity building and
infrastructure development are a priority.
· Awareness: Immediate action is required for raising awareness through targeted media and publicity campaigns to highlight the threats of climate change and its implications. Training and
mobilizing local communities may be carried out for better disaster preparedness. Local government and NGOs would be required to cooperate in building awareness, particularly among the farming communities and in poor urban areas.
· Organizational and Institutional Initiatives: Organizational and institutional initiatives at the national level can be undertaken in short term through strengthening the Climate Change Division
and making it more efficient as well as accountable. This will also help decentralize the Division giving it greater freedom to accomplish assigned tasks.
· Capacity Building: The institutions working on climate change must address human resource requirements for numerical modeling and climate system dynamics. It must be ensured by the
Government that universities offer courses at graduate and postgraduate level on dynamics of climate system and related sciences. Moreover, irrigation system needs to be improved by introducing sprinkler and drip irrigation at a larger scale. Adequate funding for this is needed. Hence government policies have to encourage the use of modern and more efficient irrigation systems.
· Infrastructural Development: At the Federal level, for floods, drought and sea intrusion mitigation, Diamer-Bhasha, Akhori, Munda and Kalabagh dams are essential as we have very less capacity in our country. These dams will provide regulated flow down the Indus deltaic area to counter sea intrusion and help in ecological preservation and saving livelihood of local inhabitants. Provincial and local governments need to be mobilized to ensure effective implementation. The harvesting of rain water at provincial and district level is needed to counter water scarcity and to charge sub-surface water. Government should incentivize household and small business for solar energy utilization and integrate excess generation with the national grid.
The uncertain and unpredictable nature of climate change poses an added challenge to policy makers who are tuned to making decisions based upon historical and known denominators. Resources remained a challenge. The international security environment writ large will face
threats and pressures from climate change. Climate change, interacting with other risks to international security, is likely to have the greatest impact on unstable, conflict-prone, and strategically-significant regions. Political and demographic realities, combined with climate change, food and water insecurity, suggest that the Middle East, North, East and Central Africa, as well as certain nations in Central Asia, will face significant security risks from a changing climate. However, a growing coastal and urban population in the broader Asia-Pacific region, coupled with projected climate change-exacerbated stresses on water security, means that the nations of the Asia-Pacific are also particularly vulnerable to climate change effects. A rapidly-melting Arctic and shifting geopolitical dynamics in the area (including a worsening relationship between Russia and its Arctic neighbours) could combine to increase geopolitical tensions in a relatively stable area. Sea level rise also constitutes an existential threat to low-lying island nations. In identifying future climate-security “hotpots,” however, abetter integration of climate and natural resources stressing into our analyses of state fragility is needed. Climate Change challenge that we are facing could be turned into a new opportunity based on cleaner technology and a low-carbon economy. If we proactively use this opportunity, we will be able to turn the climate change issue into a new
economic opportunity that advances sustainable development and encourages new kinds of cleaner technologies, industries and jobs. In this, we need partnerships between public and private sectors as well as civil society to bring about a paradigm shift not just formulation of policies. And most importantly, Pakistan needs national solidarity based upon genuine
partnership at national and international levels. However, these threat multipliers test the ability of governments to take bold decisions that would prepare a nation to effectively combat negative impacts of climate change on its national security.