“Before the funds started flowing in, (politicians) weren’t really interested in having this conversation,” he said.
“It used to be that all the natural disasters are because of God. Now all of a sudden they’re all because of climate change.”
A small crowd gathered to hear Shabbar explain other environmental issues, such as water scarcity and poor air quality in Karachi, Pakistan’s economic capital with a population of more than 20 million.
“Climate change is evident around the world,” attendee Amna Jamil, 60, said.
“I know what impact non-seasonal rains can have and how they can affect crops. So many seasonal fruits and crops are being destroyed by climate change.”
The floods – which scientists said were linked to climate change – hit hardest in southern Sindh province, where the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was running the provincial government.
PPP senator and former climate minister Sherry Rehman insists her party has “put green development and climate resilience at the centre of (its) economic agenda” while others pay “lip service”.
They say they have started with the construction of climate-resilient housing in vulnerable areas and would prioritise a developing early-warning infrastructure and a transition to clean energy.
“Pakistan is going through a climate polycrisis, so pretty much everything has to be addressed with speed and action,” Rehman told AFP.
Apart from flooding, Pakistan has been scorched by deadly heatwaves, and its smog levels rank among the worst in the world.
Professor Nausheen H Anwar, who works on urban planning and climate hazards, said “the level of intervention required to make things work at a major scale is not happening”.
The impact of climate change has collided with Pakistan’s lack of infrastructure and poor governance to produce an ecological catastrophe, she explained.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF estimates that around 70 per cent of households drink contaminated water and more than 50,000 children under five die from sanitation-related diseases annually, an issue that is being magnified by extreme heat and drought.
“It’s a question of time and the worry is that maybe we are now out of time,” Anwar told AFP.
Source: Channel News Asia