Deal on climate change

Published December 16, 2014
.—Reuters/File
.—Reuters/File

THE climate change-global warming debate has seen years of contestation. Finally, new resolve seems to be building.

On Sunday, two days into overtime after a fortnight of talks that at one point seemed almost on the verge of collapse, some 190 countries agreed on the building blocks of a new-style global deal, due in 2015, to combat the phenomenon.

China and India, which had expressed concern over earlier drafts of the deal because they placed too heavy a burden on emerging economies as compared to the rich, got what they had been demanding: the preservation of the Kyoto Protocol convention that rich countries must lead in the cuts in greenhouse emissions.

Also read: 190 nations agree on building blocks for climate deal

Matters were helped along by the joint US-China agreement last month to curb emissions. If the resolve holds, governments are to submit their national emission-management plans by the informal deadline of end-March next year, which could form the basis of a global agreement at the Paris summit.

In terms of climate change, it is an unfortunate reality that while the more industrialised countries have done/are doing the most damage, it is the planet as a whole that must pay.

Countries such as Pakistan, which might not have significant emission levels because of the low levels of industrialisation, nevertheless stand badly affected, particularly when the availability and efficacy of coping or mitigating mechanisms is factored in.

In their own interests, though, such states need to step up to the plate. There are already indications that Pakistan’s climate and weather patterns are changing, such as the floods in recent years. But there seems to be no recognition among policymaking circles that an action plan is required for the future — even though Pakistan counts agriculture as its economic base.

The country is ignoring harsh realities at its own peril. The fact is that the future will bring, to whatever extent, challenges in water and consequently food availability, which will have an adverse knock-on effect on the population. It is time to start preparing.

Published in Dawn December 16th , 2014

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