KATOWICE   -  Malik Amin Aslam, the Advisor to the PM on Climate Change, stated Pakistan’s intention to review its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) document before the Paris Agreement takes effect in 2020.

He said this in his official speech given at the high-level segment of COP24 in Katowice, Poland, on Wednesday. The NDCs are the voluntary commitments made by each country to cut their carbon emissions to limit global warming under the agreement. Pakistan’s revised NDC will now account for “the programmes and actions that the present government has initiated all of which will have a significant positive impact on Pakistan’s contribution towards global mitigation,” he told the ministers of around 200 countries of the UN.

He highlighted Pakistan’s willingness to “develop along a different pathway and become an enabler of the new transition economy that our scientists tell us, is possible if and only if we have the political will to make that choice”.

He stated: “This low carbon economy is the only solution we have to climate change and in Pakistan we are responsibly steering the country towards this green growth.” He described the journey to plant a billion trees in KP and how four years down the line, the “Billion Tree Tsunami” has become the first entity under the global “Bonn Challenge” to not only meet its pledge of restoring 3.48 million ha of forest but has also restored over 6 million ha of forest. This self-financed project has created half a million green jobs, revived the forest biodiversity, engaged the local communities and energized the youth to become “custodians of a green future”. The project has laid the foundations for the “10 Billion Tree Tsunami” which PM Imran Khan recently launched across the country. “We have so far, spent more than $120 million on the initiative, and plan to spend another estimated $1 billion through domestic resources,” said Aslam.

The “green political will” is also manifesting itself in the renewable energy sector with the current government committing itself to capitalizing on the large potential in wind, solar and hydro as well as utilizing nuclear energy. “More than 365 small run-of-the- river hydro projects have been set up in the north providing access to off-grid and affordable zero carbon electricity. In the transport sector, with catalytic Green Climate Fund financing, Pakistan has finalized a multi-million dollar zero emission bus metro system for the city of Karachi operating on cattle waste generated biogas”. This is called the Karachi Breeze or Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) project.

He noted that Pakistan is a country without a choice on climate adaptation as it is facing the impacts with climate adaptation needs ranging between $7 to 14 billion per year. Hence, climate compatible development is an “inevitable direction to take and building resilience of our vulnerable communities as well as our infrastructure, an undeniable option”. The new government is working on shifting towards climate resilient agriculture as well as an initiative to utilize floodwaters for ecosystem restoration and ground water recharge.

Pakistan’s new government, he said, is now moving towards a cleaner, greener and sustainable future aiming for lowering emissions and ensuring climate resilient growth. “I must emphasise that these actions and initiatives go much beyond our NDC and are happening in spite of the expected external financial flows not materializing”. He reiterated Pakistan’s support for the recent IPCC special report that came out before COP24 that basically says the world has 12 years to take action before the planet crosses over a threshold of chaotic uncertainty. “The science of climate change is crying out loud and clear with the latest IPCC report warning of a suppressed timeframe for meaningful action and a critical need for mobilizing corresponding international climate finance”.

Aslam said the reality of climate change “has been ferociously manifesting itself across the world – and especially in Pakistan, ranked 135th in terms of its contribution to global emissions but ranked in the top ten vulnerable countries consistently over the past two decades”. Pakistan is forced to cope with recurring super floods, unpredicted droughts, chaotic heatwaves, melting glaciers, threatening GLOFs as well as rapidly shifting weather patterns.

He concluded that the Paris rulebook needs to be finalized and operationalized with equity and transparency at COP24. “The Warsaw mechanism for Loss and Damage also needs to be brought back from the cold storage. The Green Climate Fund needs to be replenished with new and additional financing and its operational efficiency be further enhanced.” Katowice, he said, is providing us an opportunity to bring the global climate negotiations back on track and we have no option but to seize it.

Rina Saeed Khan