Excluding Pakistan is Untenable

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Malik M. Ashraf

Unlike Koyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement signed on April 22, 2016, is the first universal, legally binding global climate accord under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The agreement makes it obligatory for the parties, particularly those responsible for the emission of the bulk of greenhouse gases, to make efforts to keep the temperature below the pre-industrial level and to provide financial resources to the developing countries to grapple with the consequences of global warming.
Article 9 of the agreement stipulates “Developed country parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention. Other Parties are encouraged to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily. The provision of scaled-up financial resources should aim to achieve a balance between adaptation and mitigation, taking into account country-driven strategies, and the priorities and needs of developing country parties, especially those that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and have significant capacity constraints, such as the least developed countries and small island developing States, considering the need for public and grant-based resources for adaptation.”
As is evident, the agreement recognised the fact that the developing countries, particularly those severely affected by the phenomenon of climate change, could not contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the agreement, unless they were provided adequate resources. Pakistan ranks number seven among the most affected countries by climate change. Therefore as per the criteria set out in the agreement, it deserves to be supported financially by the developed countries to sustain its efforts in regards to mitigation and adaptation.
But it is regrettable to note that Pakistan has not received a penny from the $100 billion climate finance promised by the developed countries under the Paris Agreement. The exclusion of Pakistan from the list of beneficiaries is absolutely untenable. Pakistan’s vulnerability to the adverse impact of climate change is well established and widely recognized. Therefore, Minister for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam while talking to media justifiably reiterated that Pakistan would take up this issue in the upcoming COP 26 Conference scheduled to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November. He was on the money to say, “The global community needs to deliver climate finance credibly and transparently and as per the needs of developing countries, otherwise, climate talks will end with nothing to show to the world.”
In view of the severity of the impact of climate change, Pakistan perforce had to take appropriate initiatives on its own to grapple with the problem relying on its resources, which surely are not adequate for the purpose. Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has been the most vociferous advocate of credible and cooperative efforts by the global community to deal with the Climate Change challenge that threatens human existence on the planet earth. Under his stewardship, Pakistan has taken credible and concrete measures to mitigate the impact of the climate challenge. Ten billion tree plantation is its flagship project.
These efforts have received worldwide appreciation and recognition, including from UNEP, UNDP and World Economic Forum. UNEP, in recognition of these initiatives, requested Pakistan to host a virtual conference on World Environment Day on June 5. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in his address to the UN General Assembly, while dilating on the subject of climate change was all praise for the ten-billion-tree plantation programme initiated by Prime Minister Imran Khan to mitigate the debilitating impact of the phenomenon and advised the world leaders to emulate his example. It was indeed a great compliment for Pakistan as well as the prime minister.
UNDP published an article in November 2020 in which it said Pakistan was one of the few countries to achieve “on track status” vis-à-vis SDG 13 on climate change. The achievement of the status is largely, a result of several policies and initiatives by the government, which have been launched to improve the environment and manage the changing climate. These include among others, “Clean and Green Pakistan,” “Ten Billion Tree Tsunami,” “Protected Areas Initiative” and “Recharge Pakistan.”
Relief Web also endorsed Pakistan in its article published in 2019 stating that Pakistan, which has been listed as the 7th most vulnerable country by climate change, is now seriously tackling the vagaries of weather, both at the official as well as non-official level. Pakistan has further initiated multiple programmes and formulated policies to protect the environment and the drastically changing climate in the region. To reduce the impacts of climate change, the Ministry of Climate Change implemented Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) risk reduction in northern Pakistan. The objective of the project was to strengthen the resilience of communities that are likely to be affected by GLOF. The Ministry has initiated the Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme funded by GEF. The project was initiated in September 2018 and aims to promote an integrated landscape-wide approach for the survival of snow leopards and their prey species by reducing threats and applying sustainable land and forest management in critical habitats in northern Pakistan.
As is amply proved by the foregoing endorsements of Pakistan’s efforts in grappling with climate change and the fact that it was one of the most affected countries, it rightly deserved to the included in the list of the countries receiving financial support pledged by the developed countries as per their obligation under the Paris Agreement. It is hoped that as a consequence of Pakistan raising the issue at COP26, it would be given the financial support that it deserves.