Reviewing Summit on Climate Change By Prof Dr Muhammad Khan

SHORTLY after taking over the office, President Joe Biden reversed Trump administration’s executive orders which dismantled the environmental protections and climate change policies of United States at home and abroad.

On the very first day of his Presidency, President Biden signed the orders for the return of US to the Paris Agreement. Later, he convened two-day Leaders’ Summit on Climate on April 22 and 23.

The Summit on climate change underscored the urgency, world needs to take action over climate change and environmental degradation.

It includes both global warming driven by large scale human activities and emissions of greenhouse gases which results into large-scale shifts in weather patterns.

It also include burning of huge fossil fuels and removal of forests which cause rapid increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere.

As per the data compiled by the International Energy Agency, the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are caused by the burning of; coal, natural gas, oil, and other fuels, including industrial waste and non-renewable municipal waste.

As per this estimate, China, United States and India are top three industrial states which emit maximum CO2 into the atmosphere at global level.

The percentage of the top three CO2 emitters is; China-28%, United States-15% and India-7%.

As per annual worldwide threat assessment report issued by US intelligence agencies on April 8, 2021, the world may face serious security challenges emanating from climate change and environmental degradation.

As per this report, there will be extreme weather conditions emerging from the climate change on short-term basis.

Such a weather condition will cause migrations and instability all around the globe. This will further “exacerbate political instability and humanitarian crises” at global level.

The rapid climate change taking place globally will greatly enhance instability at the level of state(s), regionally and at global level.

Besides encouraging social and political movements there will be strains on the military readiness owing to climate change.

The economically poor countries are likely to be hit more as compare to the rich industrial countries whose share is more towards climate change and environmental degradation.

Historically, South Asia has been less emitter of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Nevertheless, over the years, India has emerged as the top most emitter of the CO2 in South Asia, polluting the entire environment of the region.

According to global estimates, today India emits over 3 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2 of greenhouse gases annually.

It estimates as two and a half tons per individual, which is half the global average.

As mentioned above, India emits 7% of global emissions as the third largest in the world having coal as the main source of greenhouse gas emission.

India is both a major greenhouse gas emitter and one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to project climate change.

The major crises facing India due to climate change are; water shortages, heat waves and drought.

Besides, it faces severe storms and flooding with associated negative consequence on health and livelihoods. India ranked third-most polluted country in the world.

Delhi is the most polluted capital city of the world. Air pollution caused an estimated 54,000 premature deaths in New Delhi in 2020.

The increase in Indian coal mining is deviation from its climate goals and a threat to the whole South Asian States.

The climate impact of methane emissions, including by India that is among the top five emitters, could rival Carbon dioxide emissions.

Despite the fact, India is facing serious environmental issue, the incumbent Indian Government of the BJP has not taken counter measures. Rather, these issues are getting serious with each passing day.

There are various social and sub-nationalistic movements are emerging in various states of India, demanding their independence or maximum autonomy.

The Peasant (Farmer’s) Movement and the political movements in the north and northeast are have reached to their peaks. In India the Covid-19 cases have risen highest in the world in last few weeks.

As compared to India, Pakistan has greatly contributed to reduce the impacts of global climate change through a number of indigenous measures.

These Pakistani innovative measures have been appreciated worldwide including the recently conducted Leaders’ Summit on Climate Change-2021.

As a belated invitee in the summit, Pakistan put across its efforts and vision for reducing the impacts of climate change.

UN Secretary General lauded the Pakistani efforts on addressing the climate change issue.

Besides, the World Economic Forum has released seven videos on Pakistan’s efforts of addressing climate change as an example in environmental conversation.

Pakistan was selected among the top ten leaders addressing the climate action by United Nations.

The United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia are following the footsteps of Pakistan by launching similar initiatives.

Pakistan has launched 10 billion tree plantation drive known as Billion Tree Tsunami Project.

Pakistan’s signature to Global Greenhouse Gas emission is very small which is commendable as compared to China, US and India, the top three polluters.

After combating the menace of global terrorism, Pakistan has emerged as the most responsible member of world community in contesting climate change.

The comprehensive Pakistani policy on climate change includes provisions like; clean energy, massive forestry, improvement and innovation of agriculture and livestock.

The Leaders’ Summit on Climate Change is a positive step forward to avert a permanent climate catastrophe.

Nevertheless, the summit is a new and optimistic beginning to formulate practical and attainable global strategies for reducing the impacts of global climate change.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.


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