PM Imran highlights Pakistan’s vulnerabilities at climate moot

Published September 21, 2021
This file photo shows Prime Minister Imran Khan attending a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of State in Bishkek on June 14, 2019. — AFP/File
This file photo shows Prime Minister Imran Khan attending a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of State in Bishkek on June 14, 2019. — AFP/File

UNITED NATIONS: Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighted Pakistan’s extreme vulnerability to climate change at a UN-sponsored meeting on Monday as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reminded rich nations that they had reaped the benefits of pollution and now’s the time for them to share their responsibilities as well.

Mr Johnson, who co-hosted the meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, urged the leading nations to deliver on their commitments toward a $100 billion per year climate fund.

The world’s richest economies have already missed a target to raise $100bn by 2020.

Prime Minister Khan reminded the participants that “commitments made under the Paris Agreement must be fully implemented”. But he also expressed concern over “unrealised climate finance pledges by the developed countries. Mr Khan suggested that initiatives such as debt-for-nature swap would create fiscal space for developing countries for enhanced climate actions.

British PM urges rich nations to help developing countries grow their economies in green, sustainable way

The United Nations is pushing the rich nations to meet the target before the next world climate conference in Glasgow in November this year.

The British prime minister said the chances of meeting that target by the Glasgow summit was only “6 out of 10”.

But Mr Guterres said he heard “encouraging declarations” at Monday’s meeting about raising financial support to help developing countries deal with climate change.

The UN chief used his address to underline the urgency of the situation. “We need decisive action now to avert climate catastrophe. And for that we need solidarity,” he said. “Saving this and future generations is a common responsibility.”

The hosts invited 35 heads of state and government to this informal meeting held on the sidelines of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. Mr Johnson and some other leaders flew to New York to address the gathering while others, like Prime Minister Khan, spoke virtually from their capital cities.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has not traveled outside his country since the Covid-19 outbreak, also participated virtually in this world leaders’ meeting.

“Rich nations have reaped the benefits of pollution for generations. We have a duty to help developing countries grow their economies in a green and sustainable way,” Mr Johnson said in his address.

Prime Minister Khan said that addressing the impact of climate change was a major priority of his government and highlighted his key national initiatives, including the flagship 10 billion Tree Tsunami Project and clean energy target of 60 per cent by 2030.

He informed the world leaders that Pakistan had replaced two planned 2600MW coal power plants with hydropower projects as “part of our efforts towards climate sensitive economic growth and development”.

The prime minister urged the developed countries to take lead in raising their climate ambitions, both for emissions reduction and increased financial flows to developing countries. Pakistan, he said, remained fully committed to playing its leadership role in addressing the global challenge of climate change through cooperative and constructive engagement.

The objective of Monday’s meeting was to deliver a shared political understanding and vision on what needs to be delivered in the lead-up to the forthcoming Climate Change Conference (COP-26) in Glasgow.

A UN study, released last month, warned that the world could not avoid some devastating effects of climate change, but it had time to take some correctional measures. The world is locked into a 30-year worsening cycle, and it will have an adverse impact. Climate changes are happening rapidly. But there’s still a window for the world to alter the climate path, it said.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2021

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