COP27 – Reflecting on Pakistan’s Climate Finance Challenge
It has been decades since the world realised the threat of climate change is tangible. This article discusses the crucial role Pakistan’s internal and external actions play in its fight against climate change. It illustrates the existential need for Pakistan to secure climate finance from developed nations and demonstrates how Pakistan’s internal and external policies could affect its position when securing climate funding.
Climate Finance Under the UN Climate Change Regime
197 nations have ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which lays the foundation for international climate change negotiations. The Convention divides its Parties into Annex I (industrialized nations) and Non-Annex I (low-income developing countries). The principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” (CBDR) is invoked at several points within the text of the UNFCCC. It recognises that while all States have a responsibility to address climate change, they are not all equally responsible for it nor equally capable of tackling it. Article 3 of the UNFCCC, therefore, delegates prime responsibility to developed nations (Annex I) to combat climate change, while Article 4 requires developed countries to aid vulnerable developing nations (Non-Annex I) in meeting the costs of adaptation. These principles are a central part of international climate negotiations, as vulnerable developing countries like Pakistan cannot mitigate or adapt to climate change without financial assistance from developed nations.
Climate Finance in 2022
At COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, developed nations committed to mobilising jointly $100 billion in funding each year by 2020 to support projects and policies to fight climate change in developing countries. This commitment was reiterated under the Paris Agreement 2015. As per recent data, climate finance mobilised by developed nations to aid developing nations reached $83.3 billion in 2020. This failure to deliver on the $100 billion promise was heavily criticised at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021. Still, there is no sight of these commitments meeting their full target of $100 billion each year until 2023.
A few reasons noted for this slow progress are the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. However, in 2019 and 2018, only $79.6 billion and $78.3 billion in climate finance were provided to developing countries. This pattern of developed States missing the $100 billion target predates the extenuating circumstances of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the war in Ukraine. However, a positive trend can be noted from 2018-2020, where climate finance has come closer to its overall goal each year. This is evidence that despite economic fluctuations, developed nations can raise essential climate funding and must adhere to their climate finance commitments in the coming years.
Pakistan’s Climate Finance Needs
Pakistan contributes “less than 1% of the global greenhouse gas emissions” but is still one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, with 173 extreme weather events occurring between 2000-2019.Pakistan, like many other developing nations, does not have adequate funding or resources to tackle the climate crisis fully and therefore requires external financial support. Pakistan needs $40 billion to meet its nationally determined climate targets (NDC) by 2030. Despite insufficient funding, Pakistan continues to tackle the climate crisis through internal policies and projects and external climate diplomacy.
Climate Action in Pakistan
- Internal Actions
In its NDCs, Pakistan committed that by 2030, 30% of all new vehicles sold in Pakistan will be Electric Vehicles (EVs). The first locally produced electric car was launched in Pakistan on its Independence Day Platinum Jubilee. Despite this progress, Usamah Shakeel notes that alongside producing EVs, it is essential to build EV-friendly policies and infrastructure as well. The Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) has attempted to aid in this process by publishing the National Electric Vehicle Policy 2019, which proposes an incentivised and phased approach for achieving Pakistan’s NDCs relating to EVs. This is just one example of Pakistan’s internal efforts to tackle climate change.
The MoCC has also adopted an all-rounded approach to climate action through Pakistan’s first Climate Change Gender Action Plan (ccGAP). It aims to strengthen women and girls’ resilience to climate impacts, support gender-responsive climate planning and ensure an equal role of women in climate change decision-making.
- Pakistan’s Climate Diplomacy
This year, the Federal Minister for Climate Change, Sherry Rehman, asked for a “clear re-set of the global climate agenda” at the Petersburg Dialogue. The Petersburg Dialogue is a platform for countries to conduct negotiations and prepare objectives for the COP each year. The Federal Minister emphasised recent catastrophes in Pakistan, including unprecedented flooding and heat waves. This year the dialogue aimed to “strengthen trust both in multilateral climate negotiations and states”. The Federal Minister’s prominence at the Petersburg Dialogue and other international climate negotiations draws attention to Pakistan as a nation committed to doing its part to tackle the climate crisis. Pakistan must continue its fervent climate diplomacy throughout COP27 to ensure that Pakistan receives the funding it needs.
- Pakistan as a Recipient of Climate Finance
At COP26 in Glasgow, the UK pledged over £55 million to Pakistan to build climate resilience, promote sustainable water use, and attract climate investment to Pakistan. The most climate finance received by Pakistan so far, however, has been through the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility, which have funded different mitigation and adaptation projects across the country. The World Bank has also recently approved $200 million in funding to support Pakistan’s agricultural sector. This funding will be used to adopt “climate smart technologies”, which boost “water-use efficiency”. This is a significant step forward; however, COP27 presents an opportunity for Pakistan to raise the crucial issue of climate finance for its mitigation and adaptation needs. Pakistan’s efforts to tackle climate change have been recognised by many institutions worldwide, including the World Bank. In 2021, World Bank data indicated that Pakistan’s World Bank commitments had the highest 17 contributions of climate co-benefits (CCBs), reaching 44% in 2021. Pakistan had the world’s highest co-benefits (CCBs) in 2021 in terms of absolute value and the highest in South Asia as a percentage of new commitments. Pakistan was also given the honour of hosting World Environment Day in 2021 and Prime Minister Shehbaz has been given the honour of serving as vice-chair for COP27. This puts Pakistan in a strong position during international climate negotiations to remind developed nations of their responsibility to finance climate action in developing States. The Pakistani delegation should leverage the country’s internal efforts towards tackling climate change to negotiate on stronger terms. It can urge for more adherence and implementation, especially because, as per CBDR, Pakistan is fulfilling its responsibilities to the best of its ability, and now developed nations must do the same.
Climate change is not just affecting the standard of living, the economy, and infrastructure, each year but is taking innocent lives. Countries must meet their commitments and assist each other if the world is to see any real progress on climate change. COP27 provides an opportunity for Pakistan’s representatives to demand a more detailed timeline of how climate finance will be delivered because the longer the delay, the more Pakistan will suffer.
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