Sherry Rehman seeks reset of global climate agenda

Published July 19, 2022
Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman. — Photo courtesy Twitter
Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman. — Photo courtesy Twitter

ISLAMABAD: Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman on Monday advocated for changes to the global climate agenda, stressing that global pledges to mitigate the impacts of climate change must translate into planning and accessible funding pipelines to address the challenges faced by the developing world.

“We must hope for a better future, but hope is not a plan. Global pledges must go further, Ms Rehman said at a ministerial dialogue co-hosted by Germany and Egypt ahead of Conference of Parties 27 (COP27) in November this year in Cairo. The climate change minister sought a clear re-set of the global climate agenda before the crucial climate conference.

Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC) Secretary Asif Haider Shah, Senior Joint Secretary Mr Mujtaba, Director Dr Saima, and Climate Change Policy Specialist Sayyeda Hadika Jamshed accompanied the minister to the ministerial dialogue.

Speaking at the moot, Ms Rehman said: “We meet here today at a crucial inflection point in global negotiations on the pace and scale of climate change. Pakistan’s extreme vulnerability to accelerated climate-induced events has exposed it to a multitude of risks.”

These risks included unprecedented heatwaves, forest fires, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF), fast-approaching water scarcity — annual water availability level has fallen below 1,000 cubic meters — along with torrential monsoon flooding, growing desertification and a rise in sea levels, she added.

“All these changes have made Pakistan the ground zero of climate catastrophe where life on earth, water and underwater has been impacted at exponential levels, making the country a perfect example of all the disasters that come with climate stress,” the minister added.

“Damage to agricultural productivity, livelihoods, human health and economic stability have led to irreversible impacts, including massive internal displacements as well as GDP losses that go as high as 9.1pc (UNESCAP),” she said.

She said that mitigation was foundational to the earlier climate conference agendas, and Pakistan has attempted to meet its articulated ambitions. “What we have not seen until today at the multilateral level is a concerted acknowledgment of Loss and Damage as a core agenda,” she said, adding that Global South was looking for a robust financial mechanism to actualise its goals on the ground, where a transfer of resources goes beyond pledges and promises.

“In fact, it is troubling to countries like us that so far pledges for Loss and Damage compensation have also not been made at all,” Senator Rehman added.

She said that this was either an egregious oversight, or worse, an index of the climate injustice that was at play in a world where countries that emit less than 1 per cent of greenhouse gases were expected to not just fulfil their commitments on their own, but also make an unfinanced energy transition, or pledge to net zero goals without the means for implementation of such transformational shifts.

Furthermore, the senator said that notwithstanding mitigation, which is not a goal to be lost sight of, adaptation finance now also needed to be front and centre, with a serious scaling up of the financial envelope for the same at the COP27 agenda.

“If this does not become a key priority of the next conference of parties meeting, the sense that these agreements are removed from the ground reality that we face will only exacerbate the faultline of inequality between the Global South and the North.”

The climate change minister said there was a need to accelerate actions as well as the implementation of joint finance goals.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2022

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