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Islamabad seeks compensation for low carbon footprint

Updated July 15, 2019

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Pakistan, beset by the adverse impacts of global climate change, faces a huge unbidden and unearned ecological debt, while the country is only thirty-first in terms of global emitters, it is the seventh most affected by the fallout of climate change. — AFP/File
Pakistan, beset by the adverse impacts of global climate change, faces a huge unbidden and unearned ecological debt, while the country is only thirty-first in terms of global emitters, it is the seventh most affected by the fallout of climate change. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is seeking compensation for its low carbon footprint to meet the estimated $10.7 billion per year needed for climate adaptation, and $8bn-17bn for mitigation, reveals a new report submitted to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Pakistan, beset by the adverse impacts of global climate change, faces a huge unbidden and unearned ecological debt, while the country is only thirty-first in terms of global emitters, it is the seventh most affected by the fallout of climate change, says the first ‘Voluntary National Review’ of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which outlines the country’s level of preparedness for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Read: Can Climate change Pakistan?

According to the national review document prepared by the Planning Commission and submitted to the high-level political forum on sustainable development currently in progress at the UN headquarters in New York, climate adaptation has become a forced reality for Pakistan, and as the country has commenced actions to protect environment and contribute to efforts to minimise the effects of climate change, both adaptation and mitigation are reflected in the country’s policy and implementation approach.

UN says Pakistan is only the 31st in terms of global emitters while it is the seventh most affected by climate change fallout

Pakistan’s ‘Billion Tree’ plantation drive across 350,000 hectares was the first ‘Bonn Challenge’ pledge to hit and surpass its commitment, using national resources. This project has now been up-scaled to ‘10 Billion Tree Tsunami’ — a five-year, countrywide tree planting drive to restore depleted forests and mitigate climate change.

Read: PM launches countrywide drive to plant 10bn trees in five years

Moreover, programmes such as ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ and ‘Recharge Pakistan’ have been launched. These nature-based solutions for ecosystem restoration are leading examples of climate action among developing countries, with the added benefits of safeguarding biodiversity and generating livelihood opportunities, the document says.

High population growth is most serious threat to Pakistan’s future economic and environmental sustainability. It places additional burdens on the existing resources and production processes, particularly in the agricultural sector. The proportion of the food insecure population is likely to increase in the wake of climate change, especially if anti-poverty measures do not expand access to food. Climate-related natural disasters are another major risk.

As such, the government is working to enhance the resilience of local communities to avert the adverse impacts of natural calamities. A low carbon path has financial implications worth between $8bn and $17bn per year towards 2050. Thus, Pakistan is working to increase the share of renewable energy in its energy supply mix. Upgrading technology to this end is the ultimate solution that Pakistan is working towards, with the help of partner countries and international organisations, it says.

The government in its report says that Pakistan plans to reduce its current greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2030. Future mitigation strategies focus on reducing emissions in the energy and agriculture sectors. For the crop production and livestock sub-sectors, the government will take advantage of available technologies to minimise waste and residuals.

Read:Pakistan 7th most vulnerable country to climate change, says Germanwatch

The report says that insufficient financing for sustainable development remains a challenge in difficult fiscal conditions and is likely to weigh heavily on the meaningful achievement of the 2030 Agenda’s ambitious targets. To this end, there is a need to channelise resources through stronger partnerships with the global community. In this sense, the achievement of SDG targets in developing countries hinges upon progress on target to mobilise additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources. A national approach anchored in partnerships, aided by technology and facilitated by finance, will catalyse and scale up implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Pakistan.

The 2030 Agenda has somewhat altered development discourse in Pakistan. Specifically, it has added a new dimension — the understanding that the government alone cannot achieve development objectives, and that every stakeholder has to be encouraged to participate. To optimise the benefits of available resources, Pakistan has to, and is, exploring avenues for cross-sectoral cooperation and developing partnerships. This will be the hallmark of Pakistan’s implementation plan for achieving the SDGs, it says.

New and well-thought-out ways for financing needs to be explored — including diaspora funds, impact investments, venture funds for innovative solutions, financial tagging and Green ‘Sukuk’. In tandem, Pakistan is aligning its budgetary process, including its development funding, with the SDGs. Efficient, result-oriented investments can be maximised by picking out leverage points which connect with most SDG targets and have a higher multiplier impact, the report says.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2019