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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 395, 11 November 2022

Pakistan at COP27: Four Takeaways



PM Shehbaz Sharif emphasised climate finance, climate solidarity and climate justice

Abigail Miriam Fernandez

On 7 November, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressed the Climate Change Conference (COP27) as vice chair in Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh. During his national statement, he stated that Pakistan would need debt relief and would seek compensation for climate damage as it recovers from catastrophic floods that cost the country over USD 30 billion.

Following are the highlights of his speech:

  • “We have to fight and rebuild a resilient and adaptive infrastructure which can only be done through additional funding, not loans and debt… but the gap is widening by the day. It is the duty of the global north to understand our plight.”
  • Pakistan is a “victim of something with which we had nothing to do … a man-made disaster…” “Millions of people are going into winter without shelter or livelihood,” adding, “Women and children are still looking to us to protect their basic needs.” 
  • He said that Pakistan was spending billions of dollars from its side to provide shelter, homes, medical aid, and food package to millions of people. He questioned the international community stating, “How one can expect us to carry out this gigantic task on our own.”
  • “The COP might have a real chance to find common ground toward achieving the objectives of the Convention and the Paris Agreement,” stressing that “it is now or never.” He said, “For us, there is indeed no Planet B.”


One could identify the following four takeaways from his speech
1. Emphasis on climate financing.

What did he say?
While speaking at the summit, Shehbaz Sharif emphasised prioritising the Global Goal on Adaptation in terms of financing and timelines. He stated that the current financing gap is too high to sustain any real recovery needs of those on the frontlines of climate catastrophe. Additionally, he claimed that the bargain between the North and the South would not work unless there was a transformational shift in the flow of capacities, finances, and technology that reversed the pyramid of climate capital.

Why did he emphasise on climate financing?
Pakistan’s climate vulnerabilities have become evident in the last decade as the country grapples with the effects of climate change. While Pakistan is responsible for less than one per cent of global carbon emissions it is among the most vulnerable countries to extreme weather events. These range from floods, glacier melting and severe heatwaves. In this circumstance, governments in Pakistan have called for climate financing to address the challenges caused due to climate change. At most forums, Pakistan has built a case around them being “victims” of the effects of climate change and thus seeking financial mechanisms where developed countries to help pay for the impact of climate change. This narrative of developed countries helping to cover less developed countries’ costs of coping with climate change propped during the 2019 COP15 in Copenhagen, during which a pledge to provide USD 100 billion a year to poorer countries by 2020 has still not been met. The problem with climate financing for Pakistan is the international communities' doubt about corruption, accountability, and transparency. However, what is evident is that Pakistan would not be able to bear the brunt of the effects of climate change on its own.

2. Call for climate solidarity and justice.
Shehbaz Sharif mentioned Pakistan's urgent need for climate solidarity and climate justice. UN Secretary-General António Guterres also refered to the same and said, “Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish. It is either a Climate Solidarity Pact – or a Collective Suicide Pact.” The principles of environmental and climate justice were initiated with the Stockholm Declaration of 1972 and later refined and globally adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Since then, Pakistan’s judiciary has made several judgements to define the parameters of climate justice regarding their domestic jurisdiction. However, several of these decisions remain in the higher courts along with environmental tribunals being ineffective due to the lack of quorum, delay in making the tribunals functional and delay in making appointment to the tribunals. Additionally, at the international level, the loophole and operational challenges restrict countries such as Pakistan from achieving climate justice.

3. Emphasis on sustainability and climate resilience.
Pakistan is on the right track when it comes to addressing the effects of climate change. By stressing and calling for sustainable options and climate resilience Pakistan is looking at the issue in the long run. Thus, Shehbaz Sharif rightly stated, “We’ve to fight and rebuild a resilient and adaptive infrastructure which can only be done through additional funding, not loans.”

4. Pakistan becoming a case for climate change.
With the effects of climate change becoming more evident in the country, Pakistan is seen at several multilateral forums advocating and rallying for broad strategic climate agreements. Conversely, the international community also sees Pakistan as a case for concern. This dual view might help Pakistan dawn in the vital support it requires in tackling the effects of climate change.

References
At COP27 summit, PM Shehbaz seeks climate compensation, debt relief for Pakistan,” Dawn, 7 November 2022
PM urges COP27 leaders to focus on ‘climate justice’,” The Express Tribune, 7 November 2022
Lynne O’Donnell, “Pakistan Leads Charge for Climate Justice at COP27,” Foreign Policy, 9 November 2022
‘Cooperate or perish’: At COP27 UN chief calls for Climate Solidarity Pact, urges tax on oil companies to finance loss and damage,” UN News, 7 November 2022
Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, “Climate justice at home,” Dawn, 20 October 2022

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