Climate change puts 33 million people’s life in Pakistan at risk

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“Literally, one-third of Pakistan is underwater right now. We’re negligible carbon emitters but facing the brunt of richer countries GHG emissions”.  Climate Minister Sherry Rehman

New Delhi:  As the earth warms and weather extremes become more frequent, Pakistan is bearing the weight of major floods that has affected 33 million people around the nation.

This flooding is certainly a result of climate change as the south Asia is one of the world’s global climate crisis hotspots.  

Pakistan, which is already facing political and economic turmoil, has been thrown into the front line of the human-induced climate crisis. The South Asian country of 220 million people faced dramatic weather conditions this year, from record heatwaves to deadly floods.

“People living in these hotspots are 15 times more likely to die from climate impacts,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said.

Pakistan since has received up to 190% more rain than its 30-year average from June to August 2022, which has flooded the country on an average of 390.7mm (15.38 inches) in water.

In Pakistan, July 2022 has been the wettest month on record since 1961, the most important cause being due to the climate crisis.

“Literally, one-third of Pakistan is underwater right now, which has exceeded every boundary, every norm we’ve seen in the past,” Climate minister Sherry Rehman said.

Early estimates put the economic cost at more than 10 $ billion and it could take five year to rehabilitate the nation.

Climate change is the reason

Pakistan is home to more glaciers than anywhere outside the polar areas. Global warming makes the country more vulnerable to sudden outbursts of melting glacier water, according to the Meteorological Department in Islamabad.

The head of the UN reproductive health agency, UNFPA, Natalia Kanem, issued a statement on Friday stressing that of the 33 million affected, some 650,000 are pregnant women.

“We are deeply saddened by the destruction, and are working with the Government, our United Nations and NGO partners to support the humanitarian response and secure a speedy recovery from this disaster” she said.

Impacted million people across Pakistan

Affecting 33 million people, which is around 15% of the country’s 220 million population, officials from Pakistan have stated that there has been a 400% increase in average rainfall in areas of Pakistan like Sindh and Balochistan, causing the deadly flooding.

With more than 33 million people impacted, that represents 15 per cent of the total Pakistani population, said Dr. Palitha Mahipala, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in the country.

Some “6.4 plus million people are in dire need of humanitarian aid”, he said.

Due to record monsoon rains dumped more than five times the 30-year average for rainfall in some provinces, killing more than 1,200 people and injuring over 6,000 since June. Nearly 400 children are among the fatalities.

With 1.1 million houses washed away and vital infrastructure destroyed such as schools, UNICEF’s Representative in Pakistan, Abdullah Fadil, explained that “18,000 schools have been destroyed and thousands of schools are now fully shuttered… So that means children who have lost education for two years are also losing learning opportunities now.”

As per official estimate, Pakistan has emitted only 0.4% of global carbon emissions since 1959, When compared with other extremely high emitters like the US, who tallies a carbon emission rate of 21.5% globally, and by China with 16.4 percent.

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