Saturday May 18, 2024

COP-26 lessons for Pakistan

By Shakil Ahmad Ramay
December 06, 2021
COP-26 lessons for Pakistan

COP-26 Glasgow ended without satisfactory outcome. It repeated the history of Copenhagen 2009. COP-15 Copenhagen was considered a game changing event after the commitments at Bali 2007.

It was expected that developed world will rise to challenge and take the responsibility to combat the climate change. Unfortunately, COP-15 Copenhagen could not deliver, except the promise of US$ 100 billion.

The promise was never kept. Developing world is looking towards the developed world to fulfill their commitment and promise. Whatever developed world offered in the financing to honor their promise, was dominated by loans, rather expansive loans.

Oxfam report in 2020 highlighted that from US$ 59.5 billion provided between 2017-2018, US$ 47 billion (80%) were loans. Moreover, half of the loans were at higher interest rates, which will further impact the poor countries. The same is true for Glasgow COP-26. It started with exceptional enthusiasm but landed nowhere. Despite all hue and cry, the outcome is poor and disturbing. Many experts believe, it is betrayal by developed world including USA and European Union.

They uphold the legacy, talk a lot and no action. Although, West is self-declared champion of human rights, but it failed to recognize the threat to human, leave alone human rights. UN Secretary General shared same sentiments but with different words.

He is concerned about the commitment of US$ 100 billion and needs of vulnerable countries. He considered world must act in emergency mode, but world is not listening to him. Despite, the need of urgent actions, developed world preferred to postpone it. Rather, they are hell bent to shift the burden on developing and poor countries. They are doing it for long, but systematically.

Instead of fulfilling their commitments for financing, they are presenting private sector as alternative. At COP-26 the developed countries started to organize the private sector as a strong contender for alternative financing. United Kingdom and USA along with their partners quite smartly created Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. It was presented as new window of opportunity for financing. It is consortium of private companies and investment houses to pool resources for lending.

Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance and UK Prime Minister Johnson’s Finance Adviser for COP26 has claimed that the total assets of companies committed for net are around US$ 130 trillion. But it is private money, available for investment and lending and it has no comparison with the commitment of US$ 100 billion and historical responsibility of West.

It is private sector, which is again pooling resources to further exploit the world at the name of climate change.It is feared that it is an attempt to create an alternative of World and Bank and IMF like institutions, which will be in direct control of private sector. It will be unfortunate, as poor and developing are already struggling to break the shackles of debt trap woven by World Bank, IMF and other Western financial institutions or groups. It will be nightmare, if it succeeded because private lending is always costly, and no poor government will be to afford it. Moreover, private sector always works to secure maximum profit and for that purpose they can fail the global financial sector. We have already seen glimpse of mismanage and greedy of private sector during the financial crisis of 2008.

Western countries also urged poor and developing countries to take lead in mitigation by compromising on adaptation needs. The text calls for phasing down the coal, inefficient subsidies of coal. Moreover, the focus is on in-efficient, so the west can play a game to avoid discussion on their coal plants, as they assume, western coal plants are efficient. the text is also silent on the oil and gas reduction, as USA does not like discussion on it.

It is matter of Americans’ lifestyle and as Bush senior said, American lifestyle is not up for negotiation. Western countries also fear that they can face backlash from the public due to actions to fulfill commitment of Paris Agreement. Yellow West movement of France is being quoted as an example.

Loss and damage is another area where COP-26 miserably failed. It could not deliver on the expectations, rather it water downed the discussion. The text only committed to continue dialogue, which is considered by many experts a sign to weak the cause. It is big blow, as many poor countries are facing severe damage due to climate change related disasters and Pakistan is one of them.

In this context, Pakistan will have to analyze that whether NDC, which Pakistan submitted, was according to the needs of country? The analysis of NDC shows that there are certain areas, which Pakistan will have to re-examine and tailer it according to the needs of country. First of all, Pakistan will have to create a balance between the green transition ambitions and living needs of people. For that purpose, Pakistan can consult speech of President Xi Jinping at APEC. He emphasized for the importance of balance between low-carbon transition and livelihood and living needs of people. He believes that neglecting of livelihood needs will lead to lose the social support for transition, which is critical factor to achieve green transition. Hence, Pakistan needs to look at its commitments to reduce carbon emissions and tailer it according to the needs of the country.

Second, Pakistan will have to bring adaptation at the top of priority list. It is not wishful thinking; the suggestion is based on the hard reality, as, Pakistan is among the most vulnerable countries. The impacts of climate change are widespread, and every sector is facing the wrath of climate change. However, agriculture is one of the most impacted area and has direct relevance to food security of country. On one side, number of days of growing season is shrinking and on other hand it is vulnerable to disasters like flood. Water availability in required amount is another area of concern. Sea intrusion is engulfing massive land. Same is true for many other sectors. The situation urges Pakistan to divert more resources toward adaptation. It becomes more important to invest from national resources because globally adaptation funds are scarce and developed world is avoiding to commit for adaptation funds. As, in 2019 from all allocated resources only 25 percent were for adaptation.

Unfortunately, adaptation is not priority in Pakistan, even Pakistan does not have adaptation plan, leave alone the actions. The outcome of COP-26 urges Pakistan to ponder deep on the adaptation needs and prioritize it.

Third, despite of all its’ good gestures Pakistan could not attract good funding for the country. On contrary some countries secured extremely good funding like South Africa. UK, US, Germany and France jointly pledged US$ 8.5 billion for South Africa to move away from the coal. On contrary, what Pakistan got for shelving two coal plants, nothing.

Thus, Pakistan needs to ponder on its strategy and refine it accordingly and there is no need to look like a good boy.

Fourth, Pakistan should divert its own resources to develop national policies and plans. It is needed because in this way Pakistan can concentrate on its problems and needs. In conclusion, Pakistan should focus on strengthening the national institutional framework and research capacity. There is also needs to enhance the level of engagement and to diversify the stakeholders. These all interventions will facilitate Pakistan to achieve the agenda of climate smart country.