Thursday May 23, 2024

UK envoy for private climate financing in Pakistan

By Aamir Ghauri
November 11, 2023
In this photo released on Nov 8, 2023, British High Commissioner Jane Marriott can be seen in Gilgit Baltistan. —x/JaneMarriottUK
In this photo released on Nov 8, 2023, British High Commissioner Jane Marriott can be seen in Gilgit Baltistan. —x/JaneMarriottUK

ISLAMABAD: Urging Pakistan to scale up private sector financing to build climate resilience, British High Commissioner Jane Marriott has said that steps like expanding tax base would not be enough to raise sufficient funds to cope with future climate change challenges. She, however, promised her country would continue to help the South Asian nation build resilience and adaptation to climate change.

Ms Marriott, who reached Islamabad a few months ago to take up her new diplomatic assignment, said Pakistan was among the countries that contributed the least to global greenhouse emissions but suffered the most from climate change.

“Pakistan doesn’t deserve that,” she said. The British envoy said Pakistan was the eight most climate vulnerable country and could do limited things about that but still it was taking measures.

“Pakistan can do a lot more [on the climate front]. There’s a great risk of Pakistan ironically running out of water in spite of floods. It needs to cut down on the amount of water it uses with modern agricultural farming methods, and manage water through reservoirs. Also, there’s not enough money in the system to do the things to develop climate resilience, so the private sector funding and projects have come in for this. The UK is launching a programme next year to encourage private climate financing here. I think it will be game changing to make the private sector the engine to drive Pakistan’s economy. It needs to be the main contributor to climate finance to build up the resilience that this country needs,” Ms Marriott told The News in her office here on Thursday.

Citing the example of British investment effort in improving Nairobi’s traffic system, Ms Marriott said she would “love to do something like that” in Karachi “but until the private sector investment environment is right, I’m not going to be able to attract that sort of financing in a way that I would like to. Some of the fundamental reforms would be needed to make Pakistan more attractive and dynamic business destination.”

She appreciated Pakistan’s advocacy of the international Loss and Damage Fund for climate vulnerable poor nations and urged the country to continue pressing the developed world to restrict themselves closer to the 1.5-degree Celsius carbon emissions threshold. Admitting that historically the West has been the biggest polluter, she said now some of the developing countries needed to do more on climate issue.

Ms Marriott said Pakistan was the 32nd least prepared country for climate change in the world, so it had a lot to do for mitigation.

“We saw floods in Pakistan in 2010, 2022 and 2023, and the resilience put into the system between 2010 and 2022 was good but it’s not enough to mitigate against the excesses of floods, so a lot of this is about adaptation and resilience for which the UK will continue supporting Pakistan,” she said.

The British high commissioner said her country had initiated a variety of programmes in Pakistan to improve water governance, build resilience of communities to climate change, provide humanitarian relief to disaster-hit people, and help such children return to school.

She said the task was great as emphasised by Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar a few times, and tackling climate change, climate security and climate resilience was a key concern of his as well.

Ms Marriott advocated climate change teaching in schools, madrassahs and colleges and said the British government had funded the training of 10,000 Pakistani teachers, mostly from underserved areas, in how to educate students on global warming.

She said during a recent visit to a school in Rawat on the outskirts of Islamabad, she was pleasantly surprised to see a six-year-old student of such a trained teacher explain climate change really well and tell her that he educated his parents and siblings, too, about it and what they could do to address it.

“I was really heartened by hearing that happen. This has got something which goes through mosques and goes through curriculum to raise public awareness [of climate change] and build resilience,” she said.

The UK envoy said her country was currently on track by cutting down on carbon emissions.

“We’re in transit to net zero emissions though net zero is not free, it’s not cheap to deliver,” she said.

Ms Marriott said her country was going to set climate change as the theme of all official events to celebrate King Charles III’s upcoming birthday.

“Charles is not a man who would want a party for the sake of a party.” She said the King raised the issue of climate as far back as 1968 when no one was talking about it and hoped that as an ardent advocate for the environmental issues, he could do a lot of things like raising awareness, bringing people together, role modelling, and inspiring clean, green and sustainable events.

She supported the call for accountability of countries for carbon emissions and said Pakistan, the fifth most populous but eighth most climate vulnerable country in the world, had got a strong voice to hold polluters to account.