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[KARACHI] Pakistan's environment ministry has cleared the draft of its first national climate change policy (NCCP) that emphasises increased investments in research on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Pakistan's federal environment minister, Samina Khalid Ghurki, approved the draft NCCP last month (26 April) after endorsement by the countrY's five provinces.

Qamar uz Zaman Chaudhry, an advisor on climate affairs at Pakistan's meteorological department and a key architect of the NCCP draft, said final approval by the country's cabinet would take about two months.

In November 2010 the government had announced initiating a draft climate change strategy following extensive damage by floods.

The NCCP contains some 120 policy measures for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Its recommendations include setting up a national climate change commission to coordinate climate change activities and developing monitoring, reporting and verification systems to assess emissions of polluting gases and changes in land use.

Other measures include improving the capacity of national universities and institutes working on climate change and developing climate change curricula with focus on disaster risk reduction.

Chaudhry told SciDev.Net: "Increased investment in research for climate change mitigation and adaptation is a major thrust of NCCP. Other main areas of the research are: water conservancy for water, food and energy security; reduction of risks emanating from rise in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, afforestation and wastewater treatment and reuse."

Under NCCP scientists would evolve digital simulation models to study climate change impacts on different facets of agricultural production systems, Ishfaq Ahmad, advisor to Pakistan's ministry of science, and chair of the national task force on climate change, said.

The task force was set up on 13 October 2008 to assess climate change impacts on key socio-economic sectors; evolve guidelines for climate change mitigation and adaptation; and evaluate institutional weaknesses.

Other objectives included mainstreaming climate change into national and sectoral policies and offering technical and financial guidance for projects under the "clean development mechanism" — a flexible mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol that allows countries to quantify their reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as 'carbon credits'.

"Separate research plans have been recommended in NCCP for development of new high-yielding, heat-resistant and drought-tolerant crop seed varieties; introduction of better, drought-resistant breeds of livestock and promotion of environment-friendly land management practices," Ahmad said.

Shakil Ahmad Ramay, scientist at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, an Islamabad-based think tank, said, however, that the NCCP "does not address the threat posed by climate change to the country's socio-economic security".