Everyone is aware of the effects of climate change in Pakistan and the devastating floods it has created which have left millions homeless. Although Pakistan is one of the least contributing countries to global pollution, the effects of climate change faced by Pakistan are the highest. According to the 2020 hypothesis of global pollution production, only 0.7 percent of the total world’s CO2 is emitted by Pakistan, and CO2 is a great pollution factor.
Despite being one of the least climate-polluting countries, Pakistan needs to take further actions for controlling the GHG emissions and overall pollution factors by 50 percent by 2030. The reason for that need is that we are a part of 196 countries who have signed the legally binding Paris Agreement in 2015, an international treaty on climate change that established the goal of limiting global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius. The same agreement also requires signatories to submit their NDCs every five years to show their commitment to achieving this goal.
GHG: GHG stands for Greenhouse Gases. These are a group of gases in our atmosphere that trap heat from the sun, preventing it from escaping into space. Common GHGs are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
This aim to reduce GHG emissions by 50 percent by 2030 can be achieved by shifting to 60pc renewable energy and 30pc electric vehicles, banning imported coal, and reducing carbon through natural resource restoration initiatives such as the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP) and the Protected Areas Initiative. Between 2000 and 2019, the Global Climate Risk Index ranked Pakistan the 8th most vulnerable nation affected by climate change. The recent floods will probably bump it further up the vulnerability rank when the index is calculated next.
The need to be in these agreements and actually follow the designated targets is that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the Paris Agreement demand financial aid from the deep pockets and the countries or regions that are less blessed but are being highly affected by the climate change are given the aid to solve the problems they face due to global pollution. There is also an added expectation that developed countries will take the lead in mobilizing climate finance.
Up until now, Pakistan has not been able to get many international resources to tackle the issues of climate change. In order for Pakistan to qualify for aid, it must meet the given criteria and prove to the world that we are actually working to reduce the overall pollution of the world. Although the criteria for eligibility should be somewhat lenient for Pakistan because of the low income per capita and the overall high vulnerability.
The overall budget collected from the developed countries in order to reduce global warming has not ben impressive, especially for the poor countries. Out of the total climate finance of $632 billion available in 2019-20, $65 billion was consumed by multinationals to East Asian economies and only $20 billion was grants to the poorest countries. The Russian-Ukraine war might also worsen the situation as most of the funds would ultimately go there as it is the site of most pollution right now.
In Pakistan, the great majority of planned mitigation spending is for renewable energy which includes wind, hydropower and solar energy resources. For instance, the NDCs anticipates $101 billion for energy transition alone (the energy sector accounted for 41pc of Pakistan’s 2018 GHG emissions) by 2030 which is a figure that is obviously impossible for Pakistan to cover alone. As the costs of renewable alternatives fall within the range for fossil fuel options, non-concessional financing for renewable investments has become the norm.
Furthermore, Pakistan will need to attract investment in climate change initiatives in order to achieve the 2030 emissions target and make our cities liveable enough that the citizens can live healthy and safe life.
This will require Pakistan to de-commission coal plants, expand renewable sources of energy, invest in green technology more broadly and deepen the green finance market for bonds by improving perceptions about country risk. More importantly, it will be critical to building capacity and technical expertise within the Ministry of Finance, which is leading the country’s climate finance efforts, so it can identify and mobilize financing from the range of climate finance instruments and means available internationally.