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Old Wednesday, June 17, 2015
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Default climate change

Climate challenge

THE EU HEADS OF MISSIONS —*PUBLISHED about 16 hours ago ON June 17, 2015, European embassies around the world celebrate Climate Change Diplomacy Day. Six months ahead of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) which will take place in Paris, France, in December 2015, we, the representatives of the European Union and its member states in Pakistan, call on all national and international stakeholders to work together towards reaching an ambitious, comprehensive, equitable and binding UN climate agreement.

To preserve our planet as a livable place for future generations this agreement should have two goals: first, it must limit global warming to at least below two degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels by reducing emissions. Second, it must help to reduce the exposure of people to the damage caused by climate disruption. In the language of international negotiations, the former is called mitigation and the latter adaptation.
If action is not taken now the increasing temperatures, extreme weather conditions and rising sea levels will threaten to flood coastal areas, create more droughts and more inland floods, hunger and disease with devastating effects for the lives of billions of people around the world. Threats to peace and security will increase in both number and intensityThis is also why the EU has chosen to take the lead globally on climate change issues. Between 1990 and 2012, we reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 19pc. Recently, we have made a commitment to reach a 40pc reduction by 2030. In order to meet this goal we have set ambitious targets for energy efficiency and green and renewable energy and established the world’s first carbon market. Pakistan will pay a price if action is not taken on climate change. Pakistan is, so far, one of the lowest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, and it would be tempting to suggest that what will happen in Paris is not relevant in Islamabad. This would be wrong. Pakistan is already one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the future. From the Himalayas to the Indus River Basin to the deserts and coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan, the people of Pakistan will risk paying a heavy price if resolute action is not taken here and on a global scale. We, therefore, encourage the Pakistan government to stand with us and show leadership in the global efforts to reach an agreement in Paris. Pakistan already has an ambitious policy for climate change adopted in 2012 and the structures in place to implement it. It is of crucial importance that this is followed up with the allocation of sufficient resourcesEnergy is of course already very much in the forefront of everyone’s mind here in Pakistan. It will be important to avoid the temptation to give into short-sighted solutions, which while addressing the energy deficit on the short term will hamper development of cheap green solutions. Pakistan is ideally suited for renewable energy, and it is encouraging to see that hydro, sun and wind are important pillars of Pakistan’s energy policy. Another area where quick wins could be achieved is by improving energy efficiency. Pakistan and other developing countries will not be left to shoulder the burden on their own. A key objective of the COP21 is the mobilisation of $100 billion by developed countries, from 2020 in a Green Climate Fund. This should enable developing countries to combat climate change whilst promoting fair and sustainable development. The EU and its member states will also continue to support low-carbon development and climate resilience in development assistance.
For a long time, climate action was seen as a cost rather than an opportunity. Today, the debate centres on the cost of taking no action. In Pakistan, inaction could cost from $6-14bn annually by 2050 in adaption. Analysis also shows that an efficient, low-carbon path is key to future economic success and a driver of prosperity. Pakistan needs to adapt its economy to these realities. We call on all stakeholders, businesses, local governments and civil society to demand ambitious policies and to tackle climate changeTo date, nearly 40 countries, including all 28 EU member states, have submitted their “national contributions” — ie, their commitments to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change. We are counting on Pakistan to join this collective effort and submit its contribution before the deadline in October, to be ambitious and forward-looking based on its national circumstances and capabilities; and to contribute to a positive momentum that can address this very serious global problem.
We are approaching the point of no return on climate change and the world must urgently move from good intentions to resolute action. Therefore, we hope you — the reader — will echo this appeal and raise awareness of the need to reach a successful global climate agreement this December in Paris. Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2015
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