A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change was held on Thursday at the Parliament Lodges. Senator Seemi Ezdi chaired the meeting; that was attended by Senator Khalida Ateeb, Senator Keshoo Bai, Senator Taj Haider and senior officers of the Ministry of Climate Change along with its attached departments and agencies. Minister of State for Climate Change, Senator Sherry Rehman was present at the meeting as well.
Issues taken up entailed the Shispher Glacier Hassanabad tragedy; ensuing climate change threats and preparedness to tackle the latest spate of heatwaves in the country.
The meeting commenced with a briefing by National Project Manager, GLOF2 in Pakistan. It was asserted that the mandate of the project has been to install Early Warning Systems in all 24 project valleys, strengthen capacity of communities exposed to climate risks, establishment of mitigating structures and strengthening sub-national institutional capacities through policy level interventions.
Discussing challenges, it was revealed that missing oversight by relevant departments and non-functional AWS in other valleys from GLOF- I are resulting in disasters at more locations. This, it was asserted, left no margin for timely interventions. In addition to this, procurement and bidding delays for project activities were termed as major hurdles due to which construction window was lost. Missing infrastructural review was another major cause that contributed to major mishaps in the valleys.
The Committee was of the view that the local administration would have to take responsibility related to various infrastructural modification and reviews. Terming it a major cause in the current incident, the Committee asserted that encroachments must be stopped. Minister of Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman, while terming such incidents a grave threat to the local communities called on developing a long term strategy to deal with similar crises, pre-emptive measures were emphasized to prevent such incidents in the future. Strong implementation of laws and coordinated efforts by agencies was stressed.
Discussing major challenges of recent heatwave incidents the Committee was informed that deforestation, lack of greenery and open spaces and unplanned urbanization played a major role in the acceleration of climate change effects associated with the recent spate of heatwaves in the country. The Committee stressed the need to curtail methane gas losses that contribute greatly to the heat in the environment. Switching to alternate sources of energy and promoting the use of public transport was stressed to reduce carbon emission in the atmosphere.
Minister for Climate Change, Senator Sherry Rehman called for the need of a rigorous awareness campaign to deal with issues of climate change in Pakistan. She stressed the need for a more informed society to tackle the environmental crises faced currently by Pakistan. The Committee stressed the need for environmental friendly measures to be adopted and increased use of solar energy and bio-saline agriculture in the country.