Cut in population growth to reduce carbon emissions: experts

October 05, 2022

Experts at a seminar said that a reduction in the rising world population in general and Pakistan in particular would cut carbon emissions and improve human lives. The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) organised a seminar on "Rapid Population Growth and Pakistan's Vulnerability to Climate Change" to initiate a stakeholder dialogue and create informed discourse on the country's increasing vulnerability to climate change. During the panel discussion, former federal minister of population planning and President Emeritus FPAP Dr Attiya Inayatullah said the German Watch Report 2020 ranked Pakistan, the world’s fifth most populous country, as the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change. She suggested that a policy framework was required to recognise multiple factors contributing to climate change in Pakistan. "We need to tackle climate change issues in a holistic and inter-sectoral manner," she said. 

Dr Attiya said it was a priority of every discourse to link climate change with population and no rocket science was needed to understand the population-climate link. The recent unprecedented torrential floods had proved it, she added. She mentioned that with a decline in population, there would be a reduction in carbon emissions, which would improve human lives. "Water resources management should be a priority of the country and it has instruments like the Council of Common Interest (CCI) to achieve these goals." She warned that due to environmental risks, migration to urban slums was much more common than those made through proper planning or intention. She proposed that the Ministry of Climate Change should take the lead through the CCI to establish robust inter-provincial coordination for climate crisis management.  Country Director of Pakistan Population Council Zeba Sathar was of the view that the underlying vulnerabilities to environmental degradation also contributed to regional politics.

Moreover, poverty, climate change and poor governance collectively enhanced global warming and natural calamities, she added.  Social Policy Advisor at Ministry of Planning and Development Nadeem Ahmed said climate change was part of the planning discourse where climate resilient infrastructure was being focused as a future need. The government, he said, gave priority to ecosystem restoration and there was a high debate at the level of the Planning ministry. Environmental Journalist Zofeen Ebraheem said Pakistan was in trouble due to huge floods and held the bulging population responsible for it.

He said the government was unable to handle it due to a paucity of resources and capacity.  Stanford University estimated that the world would have two billion more humans added to its current population by coming November 15, making the world home to eight billion people, she said.  "More than 65% of the future diseases will be zoonotic in nature due to alarming damage being done to nature by adverse anthropogenic activities."

The population boom was also shrinking water availability, which was concerning and demanded urgent attention of the stakeholders at all levels, she added. Environmentalist and journalist Afia Salam highlighted the serious impacts of population rise, which lead to environmental degradation and contraction of natural resources and biodiversity loss.  Head of the SDPI Sustainability and Resilience Programme Dr Shafqat Munir in his concluding remarks said that scientists are convinced that climate change and population have a direct link. "This seminar is part of a strong advocacy series to flag civil society concerns and enhance advocacy outreach on climate change at the grassroots level," he said.  The loss and damage and population control are very important issues and the SDPI is working to plead a strong case for Pakistan at the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-27) in Egypt.

Credit : Independent News Pakistan-WealthPk