The COP 21, the highly ambitious and much anticipated Climate Change conference in Paris, kicked off on Monday morning on a somber note.

A moment of silence was observed to honor the victims of the city’s terror attacks, followed by the French president Francois Hollande recognizing the magnitude of addressing both climate change and terrorism. This conference is ambitious because it is the first time in the history of the UN Climate agenda that the world leaders are meeting to agree on legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

A lot hangs on the shoulders of the two key players - China and the United States - the largest producers of greenhouse gases, to come to an agreement on the ambitious targets. Considering that he Obama administration has made climate change one of its top priorities during his tenure, such a feat seems as likely as ever. President Obama and President Xi Jinping jointly signed a landmark agreement in November 2014, which included new targets for carbon emissions reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by to stop its emissions from growing by 2030. This has definitely projected an image globally of the serious commitment of the key players to make this conference a success.

Pakistan however is at the other end of the spectrum as far as the vision for climate change goes. The strategy document, called the ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ (INDC), has enraged experts at home and has been a dismal contribution to the COP 21 by the Sharif government. The document simply states that “Pakistan is committed to reduc[ing] its emissions after reaching peak levels to the extent possible subject to affordability, provision of international climate finance, transfer of technology and capacity building,” without promising the unconditional emissions reduction of 5% by 2030, that was originally drafted by the Climate Change ministry.

Pakistan although one of the lowest emitters and accounts for less than 1pc of the total global carbon emissions, it remains at the forefront of the devastating impacts of climate change. All is not lost though as Pakistan can still push for a legally binding agreement because its absence will increase its vulnerability to the severity of disasters. It is in our interest to see that the global temperature is stabilised as quickly as possible and as close to 1.5 degrees centigrade as possible. Hopefully the conference will end successfully and prove to go down in history as the event that changed the future of the earth.