ISLAMABAD - Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid has urged the global fraternity to join hands together to fight the climate change impacts by ‘substantially’ reducing burning of fossil fuel and adopting pathways to green economies to secure humanity from the consequences of rampant emissions of climate-altering greenhouse gases.

He was addressing a joint high-level plenary meeting of the ‘8th meeting, Conference of the Parties (COP) serving as the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) in Paris.

He said, climate change was indeed the defining issue of the present time. Left unaddressed, it could seriously undermine the development gains achieved over the past decades, pushing people back to poverty and misery. It could doom our ability and efforts to achieve United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recently agreed in New York.

He said, “Scientists have already warned our planet will become increasingly inhospitable for mankind as it warms with rising sea levels that will consume islands and populated coastal areas, as well as catastrophic storms and severe droughts.” However, cutting emissions in fact would require a shift away from burning fossil fuels for energy, as well as from the destruction of carbon-storing rainforests, the minister highlighted.

He also apprised the world ministers of Pakistan’s rising climate vulnerability and its effects on socio-economic sectors.

“Pakistan’s per capita emission of green house gases is one of the lowest in the world. Yet it is placed in the extremely vulnerable category by a host of climate change indices. Furthermore, the country has witnessed the vagaries of climate change with growing regularity and destructive ferocity. Droughts, desertification, glacial melt, sea-level rise and recurrent floods are all manifestations of climate-induced phenomena,” he told the participating ministers.

Counting the present government’s concerted efforts aimed at mitigating climate change impacts in the country, Zahid Hamid said, “The ‘Vision 2025’, our blueprint for a future-oriented and growth-centric roadmap for Pakistan, clearly recognises global warming and climate change as priority areas for effective action by the government. Besides, the National Climate Change Policy and its Framework for Implementation for the period 2014-2030 serve to integrate climate-friendly policies in our national economic and development planning.”

“To alleviate transport sector’s carbon emissions, efforts have been taken for operationalizing mass transit systems in Islamabad and Lahore,” he said.

“Pakistan needs upto $14 billion annually to cope with climate change impacts in energy, agriculture, water, health, education and public infrastructure,” he told the global conference.