By Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio
ISLAMABAD (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Pakistan's provinces will create committees to oversee reductions in carbon emissions and support climate change adaptation, in a push to implement a long-stalled national climate policy.
Under an agreement reached at the first meeting of the National Climate Change Policy Implementation Committee in late April, climate change sections will be established within the federal Planning Commission and the five provincial governments as well as Pakistan-administered Azad Jammu & Kashmir, to coordinate climate change policy and funding.
The new provincial committees are due to send initial plans to the federal government by May 5.
"Such plans will be forwarded to the recently established international Green Climate Fund, in an effort to win funding to implement them,” said Senator Mushahidullah Khan, federal minister for climate change.
Pakistan’s national climate change policy (NCCP) was formulated in 2012 but has remained unimplemented, in part because of political crises and the government’s focus on fighting terrorism.
The new committees mark an effort by the federal government to enlist the regions in implementing the policy.
The policy outlines some 120 actions for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Water conservation, flood-resilient infrastructure and the development of climate-resilient crop varieties are considered particularly urgent.
The provinces have also agreed to update the climate change ministry periodically on their progress, and to provide details of the financing mechanism required to implement the policy actions by May 23.
Sardard Adul Nabi, senior chief for energy at the Sindh provincial Planning and Development Department, said all of Pakistan was being affected by the negative impacts of rapidly changing and erratic weather.
"No provincial government can afford to ignore such weather patterns, and (we) need to make all socio-economic sectors adaptive to them,” Nabi said. Sindh is particularly vulnerable to river flooding and rises in sea level, he added.
Mushahidullah Khan, who has been minister for climate change since February of this year, said in an interview on the sidelines of the April 23 meeting that the federal government could not cope with climate change by itself.
"Since all the actions proposed in the NCCP will have to be implemented in the provinces, the provincial governments need to act now in the light of the policy recommendations,” he argued.
Arif Ahmed Khan, the federal climate change secretary, said Pakistan needs to become more resilient to climate impacts in a range of areas, including water, agriculture and livestock, forestry, energy, transport, industry and urban planning.
All are key to efforts to build sustainable development, and all are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, he said.
(Reporting by Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio; editing by Laurie Goering)