KARACHI: Experts at a discussion session on “understanding COP27 in the context of climate change in Pakistan” have hoped that the Sherm El Sheikh conference would be a game changer in climate change discourse.
They urged the UN member countries, particularly the big polluters, to end double standards of talking about climate change and then continue to contribute to polluting the world environment. The session was organized by The Knowledge Forum (TKF) a local think tank at Karachi Press Club on Thursday, which was attended by academics, students, members of civil society and climate activists.
The speakers demanded that Pakistan should seek compensation and debt relief instead of emphasizing on climate justice. They also demanded to raise the current relief amount of Rs. 25000 under BISP to Rs. 100,000 at least for 19 poorest of the poor districts and electricity bills in these areas should be waived off at least for six months.
Muhammad Mustafa Amjid, Programme Manager at The Renewable First said that it is positive that COP27 process is being mainstreamed in Pakistan. “This conference has been happening for the last 27 years every year but it is only this year particularly in the context of recent floods that Pakistan is actively engaged,” he said.
He said that the COP process has come a long way and we have to run fast to catch up with the developments when Pakistan falls among the top ten countries vulnerable to climate impact. The climate conference and debate is also geo political sensitive as a lot of discussion this year is focused on energy in the context of the Ukraine war and countries like Pakistan can benefit from these discussions as energy is also a critical issue for us.
“We must pick up scientific solutions to climate impacts rather than relying on traditional means of addressing challenges,” he suggested. He said that global debate about mitigation whereas focus in the global south is on adaptation and climate financing and Pakistan should have a more grounded approach, which means switching towards clean energy and focusing on mitigation.
It is encouraging that Pakistan is presenting its case strongly in the context of recent damages due to recent floods, however, “we need to have continued interest and engagement and promote a climate friendly environment mainly through renewable energy,” he remarked.
“We must seek global commitments to end reliance on fossil fuel and also demonstrate that we have also given up dirty means of energy production,” he added. Dr. Aqadas Afzal, Asst. Professor at the Habib University said that this year Pakistan has a diverse.
He said that the prime minister’s contention of seeking climate justice is flawed as we should have been seeking compensation. “We must come clear in our position and point straight to those responsible for the climate catastrophe,” he suggested.
In his view, despite good preparations and a strong delegation, Pakistan’s position at the COP27 is apologetic rather than aggressive. “We are not slaves anymore and should present reparation case to the world,” he added.
Dr. Aqadas suggested establishment of a global reparation secretariat in any country of Global South. IMF and WB should revisit concessional lending conditionalities in the context of climate change realities. He said that out of 94 affected districts 19 are the poorest of the poor and must be compensated. Big lenders should provide debt relief to Pakistan on $ 94 billion debt otherwise they must stop talking about climate change.
Abira Ashfaq of Karachi Bachao Tehreek and Faculty of IBA in her speech said that marginalised communities within the country are the worst victims of climate vulnerabilities and faulty development approach.
“More than 1.2 million people have migrated only from Badin district in recent years due to climate change impacts and faulty projects such as LBOD,” she said. In her view addressing the grievances of local communities is as important as raising the impact of climate change at global level. “Genuine Environmental Impact Assessment is must before initiating mega development projects.”
Ms Abira suggested that the government should have special housing projects for climate migrants and must stop demolitions of houses of poor people. She suggested a multi-pronged strategy to address climate challenges where government, businesses and affected communities should come together to find solutions.
She suggested that the affected communities should be consulted on climate mitigation as they are main stakeholders. “Policies should be participatory, not drawing room discussions, ” she added. The event was moderated by Ms Zeenia Shaukat, Director of the Knowledge Forum.