ISLAMABAD: Member of Prime Minister's Economic Advisory council, Abid Sulehri had allegedly his acquaintances and family members sponsored through UN funding for a trip to Glasgow to attend the COP26 conference as observer delegates.
Sulehri, who is also Executive Director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), had prepared this list of his own choice without the approval of members of the SDPI board or their chairman. When contacted, SDPI BoDs Chairman Shafaq Kakakhel said that he had no knowledge of the list of people sent abroad to attend COP26 conference and everything was known to Mr Abid Sulehri as he (Mr Abid) himself had managed all the trip.
When contacted Abid Sulehri, he said that the selection of observer delegates for COP26 conference was independently done by UNFCCC and anyone can apply to attend the conference. "Anyone can apply and get himself registered to attend COP26 conference".
Sulehri categoricallydenied that he had favored his relatives or friends and taken them to Glasgow for once in a lifetime experience of attending COP26 conference as observer delegates representing Pakistan.
This correspondent also contacted Adviser to PM on Climate Malik Amin Aslam who explained that the observer delegates were being funded by independent NGOs like UNFCCC and SDPI was solely responsible for the selection of participants to attend the conference.
Interestingly, none of the 20 observer delegates sent to Glasgow had any expertise in environment. The list of the participants available to The News shows that over half of the people who had attended the conference as observer delegates were friends, family members or acquaintances to Mr Abid Sulehri.
Other influential people included in the list were Senator Faisal Javed, Riaz Khan Fatyana (PTI MNA), Ms Shazia Fatima Khawaja (PMLN MNA) and Syed Waqar Haider Shah Sherazi (Head of Monitoring and Evaluation BISP).
The purpose of COP26 is to develop a comprehensive strategy to secure a global net-zero emissions by 2050. All renowned, experienced experts on climate change, energy, foresters and other transportation had attended the conference to develop a framework to phase out coal burning, invest in renewable, reduce deforestation, transboundary waters, glaciers melting and transition to electric vehicle use etc.
Over 100 world leaders had attended the conference with US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italy’s Mario Draghi, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Israel’s Naftali Bennett, India’s Narendra Modi besides many other head of states.
While comparing the list of the participants in observer delegates in COP26, our arch-rival India did not allow a single member of the Parliament to participate in the Climate Change conference based upon funding of any NGO. Whereas, the list prepared by Abid Sulehri consisted of parliamentarians, family members and friends who had no relation, experience or interest of whatsoever in climate.
Expert on energy and climate Waqar Zakaria said that the observer delegates in COP26 conference could be parliamentarians, journalists or students but it is important that they have interest in climate or have done prominent work in the field.
Mr Waqar also said that the observer delegates who attend such conferences are also bound to submit suggestions in their respective occupations for a constructive output. According to Zakaria, even if the trip was UNFCCC funded and the money did not belong to the government of Pakistan, it was highly inappropriate to send people with no expertise or interest in climate.
Another public expert on environment told this correspondent on condition of anonymity that the list of observer delegates had reflected carelessness and non-serious attitude of Pakistan towards this global cause of elimination of harmful emissions, deforestation and the resulting impact. He stressed that Pakistan was one of those countries which is being mostly affected by global warming.