Climate change triggered by the increased emissions of greenhouse gases is undoubtedly the biggest challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. Admittedly the failure of the international community to check the continued rise in temperature caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, can lead to catastrophic consequences. Therefore as reiterated by the UN Secretary General repeatedly it was absolutely essential to make peace with nature, meaning thereby that there was no escape from keeping the temperatures rising less than 1.5°C, as emphasized by the scientists and environmental experts.
The climate change phenomenon has already started having a devastating impact globally, and Pakistan is among the top 10 countries which have been bearing the brunt during the last 20 years. While the world is still indecisive and some countries are even showing reluctance to cut down on the greenhouse emissions, preferring industrial growth over it– notwithstanding two major protocols, namely the Kyoto and Paris Agreements in which commitments were made to fulfill the targets given to the industrial nations– the developing countries including Pakistan perforce have to devise their own strategies to minimize the impact of climate change till such time a collective will and commitment of the global community crystallizes to deal with the challenge.
The challenge needs to be tackled with impregnable solidarity among all the nations by keeping at bay the political and strategic considerations. It relates to the future of the entire humanity and the time is running out to stem the rot. A balance needs to be struck between development and environmental compulsions
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Pakistan, particularly the PTI government, has rightly given top priority to putting in place steps and measures that can be helpful in lessening the debilitating impact of climate change. The government’s landmark initiatives like the Billion Tree Tsunami have won international acclaim, including from the World Economic Forum. Pakistan also co-chaired the multibillion-dollar Green Climate Fund, established to support climate actions in developing countries, last year. It has also taken myriads of other initiatives including green economic stimulus, ecosystem Protection, wildlife management, the Protected Areas initiative and the Pakistan Clean Air Programme.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has been a vociferous advocate of collective action on climate change. In recognition of his discourses at the Convention of Biodiversity and in the UN General Assembly, and the nature-based solutions devised by the government as mentioned above, the UNEP has approached Pakistan for hosting the UN Environment Day 2021. It is indeed a great honour for Pakistan and an irrefutable acknowledgment of the positive steps that the country has taken to mitigate the impact of global change. Hosting this event will surely bring positive projections for the country as it would afford it an opportunity to highlight its commitment and achievements at the global level, which can help other nations like Pakistan to deal with the phenomenon. This will be the first time in history that the country will be officially hosting the Day. Only four global personalities, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, the UN Secretary General, Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have been selected to participate in the World Environment Conference this year.
Pakistan rightly felt incensed when US President Joe Biden, who had announced the USA’s return to the Paris Protocol and convened the Leaders Summit on Climate Change, failed to extend an invitation to Pakistan for participation in the moot. Prime Minister Imran Khan, reacting to this questionable omission, said that he was puzzled at the cacophony over Pakistan not being invited to a conference on climate change. Citing the examples of the Clean and Green Pakistan campaign and the 10 billion-tree Tsunami initiative he reiterated “My government’s environment policies are driven solely by our commitment to our future generations of a clean and green Pakistan to mitigate the impact of climate change.” The foreign office emphasized, “Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our times that can only be countered through inclusive, cooperative and forward-looking policies. “
However, after realizing the mistake to omit Pakistan, the USA did extend an invitation to the SAPM to the Prime Minister to attend the conference, which he did and gave an exhaustive expose of the measures that Pakistan had taken in regards to fighting the effects of climate change and its future vision. The leaders’ summit on climate change underscored the urgency and the economic benefits of strong climate action. It was termed as a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), to be held in Glasgow in November. The USA also committed to announce its own ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.
The major contributors to the green-house gas emissions are China 30 percent, USA 15 percent, the EU nine percent, India seven percent, the Russian Federation five percent, Japan four percent while 30 percent is the share of the rest of the world. As is evident, the major responsibility lies on these countries to take effective measures to keep the temperature rise below 1.5°C while the rest of the countries also need to abide by the commitments made under the global Agreements.
The US return to the international protocols on climate change and renewed commitment in this regard is a significant development in regards to dealing with the impact of climate change. It is hoped that the other countries would also exhibit the same spirit and commitment to this collective challenge and would come up with the adoption of measures which not only help the industrialized nations, but also enable the badly affected countries to fight the challenge and make their own contribution to the world effort.
The challenge needs to be tackled with impregnable solidarity among all the nations by keeping at bay the political and strategic considerations. It relates to the future of the entire humanity and the time is running out to stem the rot. A balance needs to be struck between development and environmental compulsions.