By: Asif Ali Sandeelo

Donald Trumpís recent announcement of the US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord is a serious blow to the joint efforts for curbing global warming and climate change. Environmental campaigners and the US presidentís political foes immediately condemned the decision. Trumpís detractors say he is ignoring the reality of climate crisis and his climate rollback heralds the death of Americaís position as a global leader. Barack Obama, who led the US into this deal, also voiced disappointment. It is good to know that the leaders of France, Germany and Italy responded to Trumpís decision Ďwith regretí and said the Paris agreement could not be renegotiated. Under the accord, each country must submit its own plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and address the impact of climate change.

Like some other countries, Pakistan anxiously awaits the fate of the Paris agreement. Though Pakistan is probably an insignificant contributor of greenhouse gases, it is one of the top 10 victims of climate change. Taking into consideration the case of communities dwelling in the Indus delta only, one realises why it is necessary for the US ó the worldís largest carbon emitter ó to stick by its commitments.

Recently, I visited the coastal communities of Sindh and got first-hand information of their problems. It emerged that climate change has drastically impacted native populations residing in the Indus delta. The coastal belt, particularly Badin, Sujawal and Thatta districts, has witnessed large-scale human migration due to frequent disasters, especially sea intrusion, coastal flooding and uneven rainfall, leading to scarcity of drinking water and land degradation. These issues have further diminished livelihood and damaged fertile lands. Fish stocks, the basic source of livelihood for native communities in the coastal belt, are depleting at a fast pace due to the loss of mangrove forests and unavailability of the river water, among other factors. People are not only concerned about their livelihoods but worry about life security. Rising sea-levels and coastal flooding pose a danger to them. Slowly but steadily, the local communities are relocating to metropolitan areas. These migrants tend to settle dowm in slums which even lack the most basic amenities of life.

The climate migrants, often known as climate refugees, not only face problems in adapting to the changing urban environment but also go through drastic socio-cultural changes. In order to earn their livelihood, they are taking up different professions. As they are hardly skilled and acquainted with the dynamics of the urban environment, they face a lot of problems. The worst victims among them are women, children and the elderly who remain dependent and cannot freely move about in their new settings.

In recent years, extreme weather events have left drastic impacts on human populations in Pakistan such as the heatwave in Karachi in June 2015, that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 people, while flash floods in 2009, 2010 and 2011 also had a devastating impact on local Communities. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change in its fourth assessment report declared that the last 11 years were the hottest on record. It further highlighted that the likelihood of population displacement and migration in relation to extreme weather events would be high.

Climate change has become increasingly important in recent years. Richer industrialised countries, including the US and China, are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and poorer developing countries, like Pakistan and Bangladesh, are forced to bear its brunt in the form of various unusual weather events.

There is a need to mobilise nations across the world to collaborate on climate change and mount pressure on the Trump administration to revisit its withdrawal decision.