ZEESHAN ADHI World leaders are meeting in Copenhagen to attend the UN Climate Change Conference 2009 in order to discuss and develop a strategy to counter the growing menace of climate change. In a country like Pakistan where the more pressing issues such as terrorism and poverty tend to occupy the policymakers, the problems of climate change tends to take a back seat. However, it is of pivotal importance that Pakistan is thoroughly prepared for the negotiations in Denmark not least because the decisions taken during the meeting will have a major impact on the growth potential of the Pakistani economy. Traditionally, a number of countries have been lumped together in the rather broad category of 'developing countries' for purposes of determining the respective role of countries in countering environmental pollution. Ironically enough, India, China and Brazil, with completely different environmental concerns and growth requirements, are also included in this category. It is no surprise then that the negotiations during such conferences revolve around these rapidly developing countries to the detriment of countries like Pakistan. Consequently, it is high time that Pakistan identifies itself as a distinct economy and demands concessions from industrialised nations that are best suited to its growth needs. According to the climate change regime as it stands today, the industrialised nations are obligated to reduce their emissions as well as to provide financial and technological assistance to the developing countries. While developing countries are expected to cooperate with the industrialised nations in achieving their commitments (of reduced emissions) to the extent possible, given the respective capabilities and developmental priorities of developing countries. The basic idea behind this communal structure is that of CBDR, that is, 'Common but Differentiated Responsibility'. This theory proposes a differential treatment in international environmental law for each country, depending on its stage of development and its contribution towards global pollution. The basic premise of CBDR is that the industrialised nations have historically achieved economic growth at the expense of developing countries; their conduct has led to deteriorating environment, and consequently, the developing countries must be compensated by the industrialised nations. The proponents of this affirmative action plan claim that a regime based on CBDR would ensure both inter-generational as well as intra-generational equity. At the face of it, such a plan sounds very meaningful and beneficial for a country like Pakistan. Nevertheless, the manner in which it is implemented is only favourable to countries like India, China and Brazil, which are developing at a much higher pace. The benefit is minimal to countries like Pakistan where the impetus for development is most needed. Pakistan must raise a number of points at the conference. First, it must ensure that all the countries are not lumped together as "developing countries". Pakistan and other underdeveloped countries can propose a hierarchical system whereby countries are classified according to their relative economic development. Secondly, Pakistan must ardently challenge the principle of 'Common but Differentiated Responsibility', as it is understood today. The representatives must elucidate that the only countries that are benefiting from this action plan are those that are already at a higher stage of development. Thirdly, the world leaders must be reminded that any climate change regime should recognise and work towards the goal of sustainable development, especially in relation to underdeveloped countries. Finally, it is important for the global leaders to realise that even though the contribution of underdeveloped countries towards environmental pollution is minimal, their sustainable development is absolutely necessary for ensuring a comprehensive climate change regime. It is indeed unfortunate that there is a sense of complacency amongst the policymakers of Pakistan about the conference. This sense of satisfaction stems from the belief that Pakistan is not a major contributor to the global emissions, and consequently, any climate change regime will have very limited consequences for the country. This is entirely untrue and is a result of a one-dimensional understanding of the climate change framework; any climate change framework is coupled with a comprehensive programme of sustainable development, and Pakistan will only benefit from such programmes if it ensures that its concerns are adequately communicated in Copenhagen. The writer is a lawyer. Email: zeeshanadhi@hotmail.com