ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs the first meeting of the Pakistan Climate Change Council.—APP
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs the first meeting of the Pakistan Climate Change Council.—APP

ISLAMABAD: “Loss and damage” — consequences of climate change that go beyond what people can adapt to or when a community doesn’t have the resources to access or utilise existing options — will be central to this year’s UN climate change conference, Climate Minister Sherry Rehman told the first meeting of the Pakistan Climate Change Council (PCCC) on Tuesday.

The 2022 UN Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP27, is scheduled to be held from Nov 6 to 18 in Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh city.

“The COP27 must capitalise the adaptation fund and introduce agility and speed in countries that need to build resilience,” Ms Rehman told the meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, while talking about bringing the climate financing agenda at the forefront of the UN meeting.

“Simplified, long-term climate financing instruments are needed to plug severe capacity deficits in the developing countries right now as the protracted periods of pipelining funds lose potency when resilience needs change faster than the speed of resource dispersion,” she said.

“We need climate funds that are easy to access, predictable transfers. We must reduce the delays in funds mobilisation; the needs end up changing on the ground by the time the funds arrive,” she added.

The minister also brought to light the lack of financial and technical resources that Pakistan is facing in its flood response efforts. “The government has repurposed all its existing budgetary envelopes, including all climate adaptation and resilience funds, to continue to provide ex-gratia compensation to flood-affected households, as the toll of fatalities and loss and damage keep rising. To secure climate resilience funds for building capacity and national action plans and strategies, as part of climate finance, we must go through a lengthy process of two to three years to activate these funds,” she said.

The minister said her ministry would be raising the loss and damage agenda at the COP27. “The bargain between the Global North and Global South is not working and it needs to be fixed for the Global South to survive the oncoming train of climate change. Loss and damage must be put on the climate finance agenda formally. It has always been the stepchild of the larger discourse, but that needs to change now,” she said.

Ms Rehman said that the gap was actually in the undertaking of responsibility by the rich countries that not only did not fulfil their pledges, but also provided compensation for carbon-intensive lifestyles and investments that continued to increase emissions.

“We will be advocating for ‘loss and damage’ at the upcoming COP27. The Global South should not bear the brunt of the actions of the rich North,” she said.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2022

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