Last month, in Britain, a miniature heat wave saw temperatures approach 30degrees — making it the warmest temperature in nearly 70 years. For South Asians, this temperature would sound mediocre, but for once cold Europe, the rise in temperatures has stunned global environmentalists. In Pakistan, the highly anticipated 2018 General Elections are due next month. Not only has Pakistan’s political temperature picked up swift momentum, the country is also witnessing extreme weather conditions, while the real heat of the summers (July-Aug) is yet to come. What is causing extreme weather conditions across the globe? The unprecedented rise in global temperatures demonstrates only one explicit fact — climate change is real, and it is disrupting our ecosystem to an alarming extent. With the general elections fast approaching, political parties are commencing their campaigns in a bid for power. However, the issue of climate change will be sidelined once again. It would be interesting to see if mainstream political parties highlight climate change as an essential component in their manifestoes. Extreme weather conditions affect vulnerable and underprivileged communities the most. In Pakistan, more than 1,000 people die every year due to life-threatening heatwaves; and most of them belong to the underprivileged class. During the holy month of Ramazan, it was this underprivileged community, working 15 hours a day, which suffered the most. The last federal government and its braggadocios claim that load-shedding has been eliminated remains factious. Load-shedding does exist in all corners of Pakistan. For the last five years, the federal government was seen scratching its head on how to save Pakistan from its power and economic crisis — while sadly, climate change remained the last point on the agenda. Climate change is pushing Pakistan into crisis mode. With the general elections fast approaching, political parties are commencing their campaigns in a bid for power. However, the issue of climate change will most likely be sidelined once again Recently, Karachi — the city of lights — witnessed one of the deadliest of heat waves in its history. As a result, it was good to see a “Karachi needs more trees” campaign being run on social media. But Karachi requires more initiatives on the ground rather than just online campaigns and political expediency. The situation is much more complex here. The city’s water woes are unbelievably difficult to cope with, considering the rise in population and mediocre town planning. Around 90 percent of the city’s population is surviving on contaminated water. Imagine, the world’s fifth largest city, the financial hub of Pakistan, which contributes 65 percent to the GDP, is living without clean drinking water! But problems are not limited to our larger cities. Our agriculture sector is in grave danger. Pakistan, being an agrarian economy, must make immediate efforts to save this sector. An agrarian economy surviving on the production of crop yields should not ignore the perils of climate change. Crops are extremely sensitive to climate change. An average increase of a degree in temperature will reduce crop yields by five to seven percent in our country. The decline in our agriculture productivity could lead us to extreme levels of poverty, inevitably causing more economic chaos. The link between extreme weather conditions and Pakistan’s economy is compelling and must not go unnoticed. In order to tackle the heat, we need to plant more trees from Karachi to Kashmir. Planting trees can help absorb carbon emissions from the air — acting as carbon sinks! Trees clean the air we breathe in. However, Pakistan’s track record with trees is below par. Pakistan is a country with an extremely low forest cover — only 1.9 percent of its total area! As per United Nation (UN) standards, countries must have a forest cover of at least 25 percent, while urban areas must have a forest cover of more than 10 percent. Although there is a rise in environmentalism in people, as compared to previous times, policymakers must understand that trees are extremely vital for the stability of our ecosystem. Instead of political point scoring on who is planting more trees, all provinces should work together in unity for the country’s greater good. What more can be done to stabilise our climate system? Few people, including many reading this article, realise that Pakistan generates only 1 percent renewable energy from solar and wind sources, while the global average is 15 to 20 percent. The use of solar and wind energy not only reduces carbon emissions in the air but also limits our financial constraints. A financially struggling economy like Pakistan is in a dire need of investment. Harvesting in renewable energy is a clean, sustainable and non-polluting way to generate electricity. The world is moving towards green energy in a bid to tackle worsening climatic patterns. What is Pakistan waiting for? Pakistan’s temperature will soon be reaching to a tipping point. The earth is getting warmer, and it will continue to do so if we do not take any swift corrective measures. It is now high time to address the devastating effects of climate change, and move towards a comprehensive set of climate solutions. Extreme weather conditions not only affect the local masses in terms of health-related matters, but also sabotages our already critical water, food and energy sectors. In a country where all climatic indicators are already on a downward trajectory, we need to take expeditious steps, on the national level, to address the issue of climate change. Let us not leave a broken, inhabitable country for our future generations. Let us act now before it is too late. The writer is Lecturer at Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto University of Law Published in Daily Times, June 21st 2018.