Dawn, Pakistan, December 12, 2014

By Pradeep S Mehta

The effects of climate change will, over the course of the next century, lead to an average increase of up to five degrees Celcius in the annual mean temperature of Pakistan and take the duration of heatwaves – that are all too common already – up to 69 days.

These alarming conclusions were presented, quite calmly, by SDPI’s Dr Fahad Saeed during a session on ‘Future Climate Scenarios:Implications for Hotspot Regions’.

Presenting the findings of his research, which he undertook using global data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he presented various scenarios about what the future climate of Pakistan may look like.

While he took pains to clarify that, “A climate scenario is not a prediction of future climate,” Dr Saeed warned that in this particular field, there were more uncertainties than certainties, but understanding the former would lead to decisions that are more robust in dealing with a wide range of possible futures.

Factors such as greenhouse gas emissions, natural internal climate variability and inherent uncertainty in the modeling systems used to estimate future scenarios could all skew the numbers, but the general trends still remained intact.

The panel, which was chaired by SDPI Executive Director Abid Suleri, also featured a consultation on ‘Pathways to resilience in semi-arid economies’ with experts from Tanzania, Tajikistan, as well as experts from major international think-tanks. Guy Jobins from the London-based Overseas Development Institute talked about how the focus of their work was to ensure that poverty reduction was made climate resilient.

Dr Suleri told the panel that stakeholders viewed agriculture as the sector most vulnerable to climate change, but audience members pointed to equally-important problems such as water scarcity and livestock as potential problem areas.

The discussion saw candid and lively discussion around the political problems that are behind the lack of comprehensive planning that may help Pakistan cope with the long-term impacts of climate change.

A participant from Sindh noted that in Tharparkar, the winters had extended to March, while monsoon rains had been delayed until September, playing havoc with local cropping patterns and affecting staple crop yields.

Droughts and floods, it was observed, are a permanent feature of the climate of Sindh, but the government goes for temporary relief rather than making a clear, long-term policy to cope with the impacts of these climatic patterns.

Mubarak Zeb Khan adds: An effective competition policy can help promote and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, observed participants at a Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) and SDPI Panel Session on Competition Policy and Sustainable Development.

“Rivalry leads to firms aiming at producing at lower costs to beat their competitors which results in lesser consumption of resources, thus reducing the environmental burden”, said CUTS International Secretary General Pradeep S.Mehta.

Competition Commission of Pakistan Chairman Dr Joseph Wilson said that competition was about promoting fair markets for consumers and not necessarily about controlling prices or increasing the number of players.

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