The global average temperature has already increased by one degree above pre-industrial level, bringing with it abundance of floods, hurricanes, heat waves and droughts globally. Pakistan is no exception, and experiences some of the worst impacts climate change has to offer. As international community debates to unify the world towards the common fight against climate change, there is a lot Pakistan can do internally to safeguard the economy and its people.

As the climate change conference approaches the end in Germany, it comes as no surprise that majority of the points on the agenda were left unsettled and will be opened for discussion in November this year, when the countries meet again in Chile. The outcomes have been what majority of the developing world including Pakistan was hoping for, particularly in terms of discussing the issues of loss and damage and climate finance. Pakistan can, however, analyze its context, identify gaps and be proactive in strategizing its climate actions even beyond the international climate talks.

Climate actions require long term planning and investment. Bangladesh, being one of the most affected countries to the impacts of climate change, has had a forward-looking approach. A decade ago, Bangladesh established Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and then set up Climate Change Trust Fund, in which $100 million are deposited each year from internal resources. Majority of the fund is used towards implementing adaptation projects around the country while one-third of it has been reserved for climate emergencies. Pakistan, being one of the most vulnerable countries with close economic and geographic layout, can also adopt a similar mechanism of establishing a fund from national resources, which can help in advancing its adaptation efforts and making vulnerable communities more resilient.

Pakistan also has immense potential of generating energy through renewable resources, along with the opportunity of transitioning towards a low-carbon economy. A recent report by Climate Analytics, a non-profit climate science and policy institute, reveals the possibility for extremely vulnerable South Asian and South East Asian economies to shift from carbon-intensive pathways to renewable energy for their growth. Dr Fahad Saeed, one of the authors of the report, explained Pakistan’s potential for transitioning towards renewables and said, “The price of renewable technologies has dropped down and it is now competitive with the fossil fuels. Considering this improvement, there is a huge potential for Pakistan to meet its energy requirements based on renewable technologies.”

Another important aspect, which Pakistan needs to focus on, is coordinating its climate related interventions and investments. Since the 18th Amendment, environment has become a provincial subject and as a result, there have been diverse variations in climate actions and implementation of policies. Syeda Hadika Jamshaid, Consultant for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change explained the importance of coordinated efforts for Pakistan and said, “Provinces should be focusing on action plans instead of having separate policies.” She further explained, “The government needs to adopt a bottoms-up approach, similar to the Paris Agreement, where provinces identify their priority areas, which are consolidated in a single document at federal level.

–The writer is a freelance contributor.

This way the provincial efforts will be aligned with national goals and funding would be streamlined according to individual need of the provinces.”

Climate change is unfair. Countries with least contribution are being impacted the most. However, immediate actions are required, irrespective of the blame game, to minimize losses in the present and the future. Pakistan needs to prioritize the issue of climate change, regardless of the international debates. Therefore, working collectively for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and generating national resources for carrying out adaptation activities should be on top of the government’s agenda to save the country from irreplaceable human and capital damage.