LAHORE - A two-day Pakistan Sey Paris Conference began yesterday at Alhamra here as a preamble to the COP21 to be held in Paris in December this year, with the courtesy of the French Embassy.

The conference began with a compelling presentation by Dr Abid Qayyum Sulehri of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), who highlighted the results of the largest-ever global citizen consultation involving 10,000 people from 76 countries on climate and energy in which Pakistan also participated. The study stressed how important the climate change agenda is perceived to be around the world, with many unhappy with the outcomes that are not produced despite having COPs every year and renewed global commitment to the cause.

The French Embassy has been working proactively in close collaboration with the Pakistani government and the civil society throughout the year to create a COP21 momentum and raise awareness of climate change.

French Ambassador to Pakistan Martine Dorance and Ambassador-designate of EU Jean-Francois Cautain jointly inaugurated the two-day conference. Speaking on this occasion, they stressed the importance of COP21 in Paris and the high hopes that they have from the event which will be the largest-ever climate conference ever organised. They hoped a long-term binding resolution would be concluded for the future of the planet and humankind, reiterating the role of the EU in boosting the cause of climate change.

The ambassadors termed the conference a milestone event as it offers an unprecedented opportunity to all Pakistani stakeholders to coordinate their actions and inform the public about it.

Addressing the conference, MNA Maryam Aurangzeb, mentioned the active role that the Pakistani Parliament has played in formulating a task force to align climate change policies with the sustainable development goal framework. Arif Ahmed Khan, secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, and Tasleem Aslam, representative of PM’s Adviser Tariq Fatemi, also spoke on the government’s commitment to the climate agenda and the document better known as Vision 2025 of the government. Former Senator Javed Jabbar and Dr Ishrat Husain of IBA spoke on the importance of civil society’s engagement in the decision-making process.

Neil Buhne, the United Nations resident coordinator, and representatives from AJK, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, KP and Punjab, had the opportunity to discuss the problems faced by the provinces and the areas due to environmental degradation and climate impact. Scientists Dr Dominique Raynaud and Dr Ghulam Rasul threw light on why it is important to curb the heating of the planet and what consequences will have to be faced if timely action is not taken.