Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, who is leading the Pakistani delegation to COP26, gave a hard-hitting speech at the start of the high-level ministers segment in Glasgow.
Ministers from almost 200 countries across the globe have now arrived at the COP26 to finalise the rules that will govern the implementation of the 2015 Paris agreement.
“It is time to stop playing jokes with climate change… it cannot be washed away by throwing pennies into the Trevi Fountain nor by announcing net-zero scams pushing into 2070,” he said in his speech referring to India, the world’s third-biggest emitter, which is aiming for net-zero emissions by 2070.
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Earlier on Tuesday, the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), the world’s most respected climate analysis coalition said that the temperature rise will top 2.4 °C by the end of this century, based on the short term goals countries have set out for next decade.
This would far exceed the 2°C upper limit the Paris Agreement said the world needed to stay below and the much safer 1.5°C limit that the world is currently aiming for.
Pakistan’s statement highlighted the country’s efforts towards a decarbonised world. “The Covid crisis has shown us that a better world is out there and possible. This is the world that the youth, out on the streets, is crying out for. This is the future that all of us in here need to be fighting for… It is a decarbonised and a nature positive world”.
On the occasion, he mentioned PM Imran Khan’s green leadership. “Our climate vision is built on these two pillars – shifting 60% of our energy mix towards clean energy by 2030 and 30% of our transport on EV by 2030 and of putting our trust and investment in “nature-based solutions”.
Aslam said that the government has vowed to completely shift out of imported coal projects and is turning the CPEC into a China-Pakistan Green Economic Corridor. “Three financially closed coal projects of 2500 MW have been shelved in the last year and shifted to zero-carbon hydropower of 3700 MW.”
He said that Pakistan’s “10 billion tree tsunami” has now become a global brand for successful ecosystem restoration through natural regeneration and forest plantations – all sequestering carbon for the world.
The PM’s aide added that the Protected Areas Initiative in Pakistan, with 15 new national parks announced during the Covid time, is rapidly expanding and protecting the wilderness areas in the country.
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He also stated that the “recharge Pakistan” initiative is turning “the crisis of floods into an opportunity by using it to restore our wetlands and recharge our groundwater aquifers”.
“All these initiatives are now part of Pakistan’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) document recently submitted to the UNFCCC.”
He explained that Pakistan has dropped its emissions 9 per cent below business as usual in 2020 and has developed a pathway to reach 15 per cent below business as usual by 2030 utilising its own resources. He said if the world delivers Pakistan $100 billion over the next decade, it will drop its emissions to 50 per cent below business as usual.
He noted that with less than 1 per cent of the global emissions, Pakistan is not a part of the problem of climate change. “However, we have chosen to be a part of the solution. Our NDC shows what is possible if a clear climate vision and strategic planning get positively aligned. The World Bank recently affirmed that 44 per cent of our mainstream development finance is on a climate-friendly pathway and it is the highest for any country in the world”.
Aslam said that Pakistan is not just talking, but walking the talk on climate change, saying that a majorly impacted country, it is on the front lines – braving disastrous floods, unliveable heatwaves and bursting glaciers.
He said that this was climate injustice and Pakistan’s forced climate adaptation needs to remain at between $7 to $14 billion per annum and almost 70 per cent of these fall in the loss and damage category. “This adaptation finance is forced upon us today and presents a simple choice between life and death.”
He ended his speech calling upon other countries to do more, pointing out that climate change is about action today and can no longer afford futuristic IOUs. “This has to be the decisive decade for de-carbonisation and nature positive development,” he concluded.