Former climate change minister Sherry Rehman
Former climate change minister Sherry Rehman

What is the significance of COP28 for Pakistan?

COP28 is important in more ways than one. The call for inclusion of countries like Pakistan in climate financing via the Loss and Damage Fund resonates as a critical opportunity. Developing nations… are disproportionately affected, despite emitting a fraction of the total. Pakistan, a low emitter, faces severe repercussions like glacial melt and heat stress, impacting water, food security, health, and poverty.

Despite pledges made at Paris to curb emissions, the UNEP emissions gap report signals a dangerous trajectory, surpassing targets. With the bulk of emissions coming from major economies, the Global South including Pakistan, faces increased vulnerability due to climate inaction.

Pakistan is aiming for carbon financing, but unlocking substantial funds remains a challenge.

As world leaders gather in the UAE from today for the COP28 summit, Dawn is speaking to experts to answer some pressing, everyday questions that are on people’s mind about climate change and related issues.

Today, Sherry Rehman — former minister for climate change — who led Pakistan’s delegation to the previous COP conference, explains what Pakistan aims to achieve at the summit this year.

What is the implementation status of the climate change policy that you introduced while in office?

“The federal ministry for climate change cannot by law impose policies or plans on the provinces or local governments, but provinces should use the inputs they have provided to grow their own provincial adaptation plans and budget for them in the PSDP.

There was no one-size-fits-all set of interventions for a federation. The ministry had a responsibility to create and file national plans as required by the UNFCCC in [the fields of] adaptation, clean air, hazardous waste, and gender action, among others.

Although this was done after extensive consultations with the provinces, the fact remains that the provinces are the sole executors of policy and law in their territories and must use their powers to act.

What the federal government can do is provide them capacity by sharing frameworks and plans. But it cannot enforce, only advise and facilitate financing at the international level when the provinces send in their projects as per their priorities.

There is pressure from the international community on Pakistan to budget for climate adaptation. How prepared are we to deliver on that front?

There is a significant gap between global needs and available funds, now in the trillions. The private sector is also reluctant to invest in adaptation projects due to risk aversion and uncertain returns.

Amid increasing pressure for developing countries to attract investments or blend finances, Pakistan’s debt burden hinders its ability to raise more funds.

The global community must prioritise and adequately fund adaptation plans. The Global Adaptation Fund, often inaccessible for countries in dire need, remains undercapitalised.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2023

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