COP28 & Pakistan’s Climate Crisis

State-of-Climate-Knowledge-Institutions-Policies-in-Pakistan

As the world heads towards the global Climate Conference, COP28, in Dubai, Pakistan finds itself at the frontline of global climate action, dealing with the consequences of disastrous floods and other serious environmental issues. A recent meeting, chaired by caretaker Prime Minister, Anwaar ul Haq Kakar, emphasized Pakistan’s commitment to addressing climate change as a national security issue. Law Minister, Ahmad Irfan Aslam, stressed over aggressive talks in order to secure deliverable operationalization of the Loss & Damage fund – a key achievement of COP27. A consensus also exists on internal initiatives such as mobilizing domestic resources and modernizing financial structures, to increase Pakistan’s potential for climate finance.

While Pakistan prepares for COP28, one of its major cities, Lahore, is experiencing a serious air quality problem. As the city with the world’s worst air quality for consecutive days, its residents are grappling with many health difficulties, ranging from allergies to respiratory ailments. Nowhere are the immediate effects of climate change and environmental degradation so apparent as they are in Lahore these days. Stubble burning adds to the dangerous air quality, both within Pakistan and across the border in India.

The formation of the Loss and Damage Fund, last year, was a tremendous win not just for Pakistan’s climate diplomacy but also for countries most susceptible to climate-related disasters.

International donors pledged over $9 billion in recovery efforts. However, concerns arise as the efficient utilization of previously pledged emergency aid, totaling $816 million, remains a challenge, with only a third received by early January. The country faces a daunting recovery cost estimated at $30.1 billion, according to the latest Post-Disaster Needs Assessment report. Despite promises and pledges, there is uncertainty surrounding the actualization of the funds.  

For this year’s Climate Conference, the first Global Stock Take (GST) is a critical component. GST seeks to examine the impact of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) on greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation measures. Furthermore, increasing climate finance remains a priority, with the Biennial Assessment reports underlining the shortfall in attaining the $100 billion yearly target. Parliamentarians across the world are encouraged to use national forums for improved supervision, providing informed contributions to global discussions at COP28.

The urgency is clear: a comprehensive and coordinated national effort must be reflected as Pakistan participates in COP28.

The deliverability of Loss and Damage funds must be a top discussion point. Climate funding, technological transfer, and strong commitments from affluent countries to cut carbon emissions are all key factors that must be highlighted. Lahore’s air quality crisis emphasizes the need for rapid action. Pakistan’s Climate Conference (PCC) 2023 and initiatives such as ‘Parliaments for the Planet’ provide forums for collaborative efforts, ensuring that the country’s voice is heard loud and clear in the global climate arena.

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