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Friday January 27, 2023

Climate diplomacy

By Zile Huma
November 09, 2022

Pakistan is a victim of climate disasters in the form of heatwaves, floods, glacier melting, and droughts. The recent floods in the country have resulted in a total loss of $30.1 billion. Sindh has suffered the most with a total loss of $20.4 billion or 68 per cent of the total loss.

According to the Post Disaster Needs Assessment, Pakistan further needs $16.3 billion for the post-flood rehabilitation and reconstruction process. The intensity of the negative impacts of climate change is accelerating with every passing year.

According to the Ministry of Climate Change, in the last two decades, the country experienced 152 extreme events triggered by climate change. The data further mentions that the country witnessed a 300 per cent increase in glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) in one year alone.

Also, the duration of high-intensity heatwaves has increased to 41 days per year. There are chances that the country will hit absolute water scarcity by 2025. Food insecurity is also expected to rise from 40 per cent to 60 per cent by 2050. Such an alarming situation calls for climate justice and repatriation for damages from developed countries responsible for unchecked carbon emissions.

The ongoing COP27, being held under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, will conclude on November 18. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was invited by Egyptian President Abdul Fateh Sisi to co-chair the conference along Norway on Tuesday (Nov 8). Previously, the PM effectively pleaded the case of Pakistan at the 77th UN General Assembly Session and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), highlighting the vulnerabilities of developing countries like Pakistan. Now COP27 is an extremely important forum for climate diplomacy to highlight the socio-economic impacts of catastrophes caused by climate change in Pakistan and demand climate justice from developed countries.

Pakistan has a golden opportunity to become a champion of climate justice. It can become an ambassador for all underdeveloped/developing countries by highlighting the negative impacts of climate change in poor countries. There are three important areas to demand repatriation from developed countries for their unrestrained development process.

First, Pakistan should advocate for loss and damage compensation for the countries impacted by climate change wreckage. The term ‘Loss and Damage’ was first introduced to UN climate negotiations around 1991 when Vanuatu – on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States – proposed creating an insurance scheme for countries likely to be impacted by rising sea levels. The term then appeared in UN texts during the 2007 international climate negotiations in Bali.

The countries liable for higher carbon emissions should provide financial and technical support to developing countries to recover from damage caused by climate-led disasters in those countries.

The second important area is the Green Climate Fund. In 2009, at COP15, climate finance funding of $100 billion a year by 2020 was agreed upon. The target to collect $100 billion is still missing and has been ignored by developed countries. Pakistan should bring the attention of developed countries to fulfil their commitment to collect the required amount annually for the Fund.

This money will help sponsor projects of developing/underdeveloped countries aimed at mitigation and adaptation efforts. Such mitigation efforts will help limit global temperature to below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C. The adaptation projects will provide skills to deal with new extreme weather patterns caused by climate change in developing/underdeveloped countries.

The third important sector is a commitment to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by developed countries. Pakistan should raise its voice on this forum to remind developed countries to take practical and concrete steps to achieve their net-zero carbon emission goals.

In addition to campaigns for international financial and technical support, Pakistan and other countries should develop transparent mechanisms for the effective utilization of funds received under the Green Climate Fund and Loss-and-Damage to earn the confidence of donors. There should be internal checks and audits of all projects initiated under the funds received as repatriation.

Also, the mission to highlight the negative impacts of climate change should not be limited to COP27. Continuous climate diplomacy is required in the form of follow-ups and advocating on other international forums as well.

The writer is a graduate in public policy from University of Oxford.

She tweets @zilehumma_1

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