The Paris Agreement has just been ratified (on Friday, November 4). The first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1) is underway in Marrakech in conjunction with COP 22. Pakistan intends to submit its long-awaited National Determined Contribution (NDC) before the meeting. The cabinet has just approved this.
In a span of about nine months, some 94 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, showing an unprecedented urgency with which the world community has moved to lock global temperatures “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.” Pakistan has also ratified the Paris Agreement.
The meeting in Morocco is already labelled ‘The COP of Action’. The turning point for climate action came when China and the US, the two largest emitters and historically Pakistan’s biggest development partners, agreed in September to ratify the Paris Agreement. This was followed by two big agreements on reducing emissions: one on phasing out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). This alone could remove the equivalent of 70 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2050. The other one is to manage carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation through a complex carbon offset system.
Concurrently, the developed countries also issued in October their long-awaited climate finance roadmap to reiterate the pledge made in 2009 to mobilise $100 billion per year from 2020 onwards to support developing countries. To further accelerate the momentum, the GCF (Green Climate Fund) Board has approved $745 million worth of projects, including a $37 million submitted by the UNDP for Pakistan’s northern areas.
Some of the key outcomes of the negotiations in Marrakech revolve around the ratification of the Paris Agreement, loss and damage, financing, particularly through the private sector, and gender equity and inclusiveness. The themes of capacity building, technology transfer and finance, are all critical to catalysing actions.
It is understood that the delays in implementation will undermine countries’ collective ability to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement in the future. The COP is therefore designed to focus on pre-2020 actions that could serve as the basis of accelerated action. A particular focus will be on the tools and environment to re-submit more ambitious NDCs before 2020, which will be necessary for global temperatures to stay under two degrees. There is an acute sense of urgency that holding back on review of weak in ambition NDCs till 2018 or 2023 can be detrimental for the overall goals of the Paris Agreement. Pakistan will have all the right reasons to align with this growing global consensus. The increasing cost of climate has put Pakistan’s development agenda at risk.
The NDC documents are a test of national will to act on reduction of national emissions in all key sectors particularly in industry, transportation, waste, housing, agriculture, forestry. Some countries are already developing their NDC implementation strategies or sectoral implementation plans. Pakistan’s NDC has committed conditional reduction of emissions in two sectors – energy and agriculture. The success of the Paris Agreement hinges on the implementation of NDCs which actually set out targets for reducing greenhouse gases and for adapting to climate change.
The resources needed for implementation are miles away from the actual need. According to the World Bank’s database, the self-estimated cost of 162 NDCs is in excess of $5 trillion. Pakistan, one of the seven remaining countries to submit an NDC, will need $46 billion to reduce by 20 emissions from the 2030 level, according to the yet to be publically released NDC document. This is obviously a case of engaging with the private sector than expecting foreign assistance. It is in this context that Pakistan needs to anchor its economic and trade relations with China and the US.
Collectively, NDCs serve as a roadmap for the New Climate Economy. The NCE will be an economy that will aspire for the withdrawal of subsidies from fossil, not for funding new coal-based plants, and attracting substantial investments and conversions to solar and wind energies. No wonder, countries that have submitted NDCs are trying to align their economies to new ecosystem and mechanisms of climate financing. They have tried to strike partnerships, economic deals and agreements before the Marrakech Summit.
Having experienced frequent floods, droughts and GLOFs because of melting glaciers, Pakistan is no stranger to climate change. Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable, ill-equipped and ill-prepared countries to deal with climate change. Our stakes are high, so should be our engagement level in Marrakech for enhancing our adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change.
Most countries have committed voluntary emissions reductions as well as conditional reductions, subject to international support. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in South, Central or West Asia that have not committed any voluntary reduction in emissions. Yet not always recognised is the fact that Pakistan spends a significant proportion of its budget on climate adaptation and mitigation.
According to a recent Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review (CPIER) undertaken by UNDP on behalf of the Ministry of Climate Change, during FY 2014-15 the federal government spent 8.1 percent of its national budget on climate change mitigation and adaptation. This is in addition to the provincial expenditures during the same period, of 9.3 and 11.3, and 9.7 percent in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the three provinces on which the data is available by subsequent studies done by LEAD Pakistan on behalf of UNDP and the Ministry of Climate Change.
The question is: will Pakistan’s delegation be able to showcase and leverage this in Marrakech? Can Pakistan align more closely with the group of ‘most vulnerable countries’?
The writer is the CEO Of LEADPakistan, an Islamabad-based think tank specializing on climate negotiations. Email: alitsheikhlead.org.pk