SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif interacts with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of COP27.—APP
SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif interacts with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of COP27.—APP

• Shehbaz says loss and damage needs to be part of core COP27 agenda; seeks clarity on climate transfer, development finance
• Stresses climate action burden be shared equitably without compromising economic growth of developing countries

LAHORE: Prime Minis­ter Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday called the recent floods that ravaged Pakistan a manmade disaster and observed that loss and damage needed to be part of the core agenda of the COP27 conference to meet the pressing humanitarian needs of those trapped in a crisis of public financing fuelled by debt, and yet have to fund climate disasters on their own.

Delivering the national statement at the World Leaders’ Summit of the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, the premier suggested the global goal for adaptation needed to be prioritized, both in terms of financing and timelines. “We’re yet to see half and half balance in adaptation and mitigation finance. The current financing gap is too high to sustain any real recovery needs of those on the frontlines of climate catastrophe,” a PM Office press release quoted Sharif as saying.

He further called for clearly defining climate finance, as new additional and sustained resources with a transparent mechanism that met the needs of developing and vulnerable countries with the speed and scale required.

“There should be total clarity on what counts as climate transfer and development finance. A global climate risk index of all parties of the UNFCCC needs to be developed under the auspices of the UN system. Mitigation ambition needs to be revived in a clear burden-share formula.”

The PM added that unless there was a transformational shift in the flow of capacities, finance and technology that reversed the pyramid of climate capital, the bargain between north and south would not work. Explaining the extent of damage the floods caused to Pakistan, he said: “If we have to fight and rebuild and repair our infrastructure, which has to be resilient and adaptive, we can only do so through additional funding, not additional loans and debts, as this would be a financial debt trap,” concluding that it was “now or never. For us, there is indeed no Planet B!”

Equitable burden-sharing

Earlier, Mr Sharif co-chaired a high-level roundtable on ‘Climate Change and the Sustainability of Vulnerable Communities’ together with his Norwe­g­ian counterpart Jonas Gahr Støre.

In his welcome remarks, the PM said climate change necessitated an urgent and well-calibrated response from the international community. He stressed the burden of climate action must be shared equitably rather than equally, without compromising economic growth and development of the developing countries.

The premier also called for simplified, long-term climate financing instruments to plug capacity deficits in developing countries. He reiterated his call for an urgent need for an early warning system as part of the preparedness against natural calamities.

In a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the sidelines of COP27, PM Sharif underscored that the platform must take bold decisions to address climate change. The two leaders reviewed bilateral ties and discussed potential avenues for enhancing cooperation.

On the need to capitalise on Pakistan’s young population, the PM called for greater cooperation betw­een Pakistan and Germany for creating productive opportunities in diverse areas, as reported by APP.

Chancellor Scholz show­­ed keen interest in Pakis­t­an’s reconstruction and re­­h­a­­bilitation plans in the wake of the floods, and assured the premier of Germany’s continued support.

Assistance for Middle East Green Initiative

Separately, addressing the Middle East Green Initiative Summit 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, PM Sharif said Pakistan was fully committed to the objectives of the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) and offered assistance to the member countries by sharing technical expertise on forest restoration in dry-land areas.

Nature-based initiatives like afforestation, he mentioned, helped countries build adaptive capacities, sequester greenhouse gas emissions, as well as avert and minimize damage due to climate change at national and regional levels.

Mr Sharif said Pakistan fully endorsed the guiding principles of a shared vision of sustainable futures, effective collaboration, regional and international linkages, innovation-driven actions and science-based decision-making.

Later, in a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the PM expressed confidence that the Saudi leader’s upcoming visit to Pakistan would promote bilateral cooperation in all areas of mutual interest, the PM Office said in a statement following the meeting.

Youth discussion

Aisha Khan, head of the Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change, attending the summit as an observer told Dawn over the phone that a panel discussion on the sidelines featured four youth activists and two MNAs, largely about how the youth sees the challenges in Pakistan, what role it could play and how much space and capacity it is given to be part of the conversation.

“There’s a broader observation here that while heads of state are making statements, the negotiations have a slow pace. From tomorrow, everyone’s hoping there will be some progress on loss and damage and the Santiago network, and beyond the technical support amount of some kind an agenda can be built that can become the decision text at the next COP for the modalities of how to establish a separate facility. The optics are looking good that there may be broad acceptance and recognition for the need to act with a little more urgency to address these issues,” she explained.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2022

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