ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is not a significant player in global negotiations and it should therefore use the Group of 77 (G-77) developing countries plus China for climate change negotiations during the Conference of Parties (COP 24) scheduled in Poland next month, speakers at a seminar on Thursday said.

Titled the Road to Katowice: Setting Pakistan’s Agenda for Climate Change Negotiations at the 24th Session of the COP 24, the seminar was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

COP 24 is the informal name for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said that climate change poses a major threat to Pakistan and that there is recognition that the country will have to be at the forefront of adaptation and mitigation efforts rather than rely solely on potential financial assistance from the developed world.

“For Pakistan, climate change is a reality that we are living it. We are working on climate mitigation of which forestry is a major part. After the success of the billion tree tsunami, we are heading towards planting 10 billion trees which will help mitigate the negative effects of climate change,” he said.

Polish Ambassador Piotr Opalinski said his government is very much aware of the differences of developed countries in climate negotiations, which is the challenge to manage and facilitate.

He encouraged and invited the Pakistani community and civil society to participate in COP 24 and said free visas will be provided to participants.

Former ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel said Pakistan has ceased to be a significant player in global climate negotiations in recent years. This, he said, is due to the lack of capacity within the negotiating team, as experienced members are transferred out rather than being retained.

He argued that the government should instead utilise the expertise within the civil society apparatus for negotiations.

Environmental journalist Rina Saeed Khan said climate change is leading to a rise in the sea level which is affecting the lives and livelihoods of fishermen in the Indus delta.

SDPI research fellow Dr Imran Khalid said a recent study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that the business-as-usual approach will take us beyond 3°C mark which will be catastrophic, especially for more vulnerable nations such as Pakistan.

Climate finance expert Kashmala Kakakhel said one of the greatest successes of COP21 was the Paris Agreement, where the developed world pledged to contribute $100 billion by 2020 in climate finance. She said only $6 billion has yet been made available in the climate change fund.

Climate scientist Dr Fahad Saeed said that according to the IPCC, limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require drastic and unprecedented measures at all fronts of society.

He said we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C global warming in the shape of extreme weather, rising sea levels and growing food insecurity and water scarcity.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2018