Executive secretary of UN Framework Convention on Climatic Change, Christiana Figueres addresses a news conference in Islamabad on February 8, 2011. On Tuesday she praised Pakistan, which is still reeling from catastrophic floods, for making voluntary efforts towards reducing emissions responsible for climate change. – Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: A UN official on Tuesday praised Pakistan, which is still reeling from catastrophic floods, for its voluntary efforts towards reducing the emissions responsible for climate change.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of UN framework convention on climatic change, told a press conference in Islamabad that Pakistan was voluntarily participating in global efforts to reduce emissions.

“Pakistan currently does not have any legally binding obligation under the (framework) convention or under the Kyoto Protocol. Pakistan has participated on voluntary basis,” Figueres said.

She said Pakistan was implementing 10 projects under a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which the Kyoto Protocol laid out for developing countries, with another 145 in the pipeline.

“The intellectual contribution that Pakistan has had to the development of the regime has certainly gone with praise internationally,” Figueres said.

Environmental experts say Pakistan, an essentially agrarian country, is vulnerable to climate change.

“Our emissions are just 0.38 percent (of global greenhouse gas emissions), but these would rise as the economy grows and population increases,” local environmental analyst Shafqat Kakakhel told AFP.

“Our vulnerability to climate change is the most important thing because we are an agricultural country,” he said, warning that crops are at risk from poor rainfall and that flood water could be stored for use in the dry season.

“We need more research to produce seeds which require less water,” he added.

According to research carried out for the United Nations, 2010 was one of the worst years on record for natural disasters.

Asians accounted for 89 percent of the 207 million people affected by disasters last year, according to the Belgium-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).

Summer floods and landslides in China caused estimated $18 billion damage while the floods in Pakistan cost $9.5 billion, CRED's annual study showed. – AFP

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