WEB DESK: Pakistan’s rather passive participation in last month’s climate change conference in Paris continues to generate concern about the government’s commitment to deal with the real and present threat that extreme weather conditions pose this country.
While the Prime Minister made some general assertions in his short and uninspiring speech, the government’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) brief submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change lacked any substantive plan to deal with the challenges at hand.
In fact, media reports at the time had suggested that a meaningful draft of the speech and a well-researched INDCs plan was abandoned at the intervention of some interested quarters. It remains a mystery though who would want to make a gain at the expense of the country’s longer-term wellbeing.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no serious intention to confront climate change that has already been manifesting itself in the massive 2010 and ’12 floods causing widespread death and destruction. Meanwhile, the Himalayan glaciers feeding the river system, the lifeblood of this country’s agrarian economy, are melting faster than glaciers in most other parts of the world. And yet there seems to be no sense of urgency to undertake mitigation and adaptation initiatives.
The government remains oblivious to the challenges at hand. Only earlier this year it appointed Mushahid Ullha Khan as climate change minister, apparently, out of a desire to accommodate a party loyalist as a minister rather than a serious concern about the climate. But he had to leave within months for making a controversial statement. Thankfully, he has been replaced by a legal expert credited with important environment protection legislation back in 1997.
Still, there is no coherent climate policy. Unlike the developed countries responsible for causing much of the global warming and the new big polluters, the fast developing China and India, Pakistan has a negligible carbon footprint. That, some experts point out, provided an opportunity to Pakistan, as one of the countries most affected by climate change, to take the lead in global policy negotiations on behalf of underdeveloped nations at the Paris conference. The chance lost, the government must now get its act together to revise its INDCs to deal with the problem, and benefit from funding for transition to cleaner technologies the Paris accord provides for.
Considering that the government is looking for every available source to overcome a lingering energy crisis, this is an opportune moment to make use of international assistance to go for green technologies and abandon the plans to install coal-fired power plants that are largely responsible for global warming. For that the government must take serious interest in implementing a well thought-out policy towards a green economy future. A first step in that direction would be to have the climate change ministry play a proactive role and help integrate clean, renewable energies in national and provincial development plans.
Source: Business Recorder