Author: Ghulam Shabir Arain, May 23 2017 - Pakistan still lags behind in its coverage of climate change issues. We are too focused on extremism and governance issues, which take up a lot of our attention, resources and time. While the media in regional countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have a good understanding of global climate change negotiations and are well aware of climate change and its impact on their countries. As a vulnerable country, we have to see what we need to do; we also need programmes to bring this about in schools and colleges. We have to prepare the younger generation for the world that they are going to inherit.

A global deal to limit the use of Hydrofluoro Carbons (HFCs), the agreement announced in Kigali, Rwanda, on October 2016 caps  and reduces the use of HFCs – a key contributor to greenhouse gases – in a gradual process beginning in 2019, with action by developed countries including the US, the world’s second worst polluter.

More than 100 developing countries, including China, the world’s top carbon dioxide emitter, will start taking action in 2024, sparking concern from some groups that the action would be implemented too slowly to make a difference. A small group of countries, including India, Pakistan and some Gulf states, also pushed for and secured a later start in 2028, saying their economies need more time to grow. That is three years earlier than India, the world’s third worst polluter, had first proposed.

Worldwide use of HFCs has soared in the past decade as rapidly growing countries like China and India have widely adopted air conditioning in homes, offices and cars. But HFC gases are thousands of times more destructive to the climate than carbon dioxide, and scientists say their growing use threatens to undermine the Paris accord, an agreement by 195 countries done in December 2015 to reduce climate emissions.

The Pak-INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) Report is being submitted by Pakistan in compliance with its obligations under the UNFCCC (United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change) process and in recognition of its responsibility to the comity of nations.  Pak-INDC broadly articulates the major challenges faced by the country, which are likely to intensify in the future as a result of climate-induced variability and natural disasters. Being one of the most climate-change-vulnerable countries in the world, Pakistan’s economy is already under severe strain from prevailing and likely future threats of climate change. The livelihood of the poor and the underprivileged segments of society is particularly at risk from the ever increasing exposure to natural calamities, such as flash floods, riverine overflows, heavy monsoons, cyclones, droughts and heat waves.

Pak-INDC (Intended Nationally Determined contribution) outlines a broad range of potential adaptation and mitigation measures. It also lists the challenges associated with the realization of these measures in both current and future scenarios. 

Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)

The future emissions trajectory of Pakistan depends upon a number of factors, both favorable and unfavorable. First, the huge gap in energy supply and demand presently faced by the country has to be met on a fast track basis, if the economy is to follow the envisaged rate of growth. Secondly, with the country still at an early stage of development, any move to reduce GHG emissions without required financial assistance and technological support would compromise the nation’s ability to meet growing needs of the huge population, with high poverty levels. Thirdly, there are critical deficiencies in social and economic infrastructure requiring immediate attention of the government. Hence, it is reasonable to assume that the GHG emissions of Pakistan in 2030 would be “1603” Metric Ton CO2-Equivalent.

Given the future economic growth and associated growth in the energy sector, the peaking of emissions in Pakistan is expected to take place much beyond the year 2030. An exponential increase of GHG emissions for many decades is likely to occur before any decrease in emissions can be expected. In view of the importance of the objectives of UNFCCC at both the national and global levels, Pakistan is determined to reduce its emissions to the maximum extent possible.

However, financial and technical constraints do not permit realization of the full mitigation potential. It is likely that these challenges will continue to feature prominently in future national discourse and would only be effectively addressed with financial grants and technical assistance from the international community.

   Why the INDCs are important?

·         INDCs give countries a chance to outline their climate actions.

·         Adding up targets in documents makes it possible for the world to track progress towards achieving the collective goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels.

·         The INDCs also give developing countries an opportunity to outline their adaptation efforts.

Pak-INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) Statement

Having considered the existing potential for mitigation in the country, Pakistan intends to reduce up to 20% of its 2030 projected GHG emissions subject to availability of international grants to meet the total abatement cost for the indicated 20 percent reduction amounting to about US$ 40 billion at current prices. Pakistan’s adaptation needs range between U$ 7 to U$ 14 billion/annum during this period.

Implementation Mechanism

Through its National Climate Change Policy, Pakistan has recognized the necessity for a suitable process to monitor and evaluate the cost-benefit ratio of potential actions. This also applies to the effectiveness of interventions in reducing vulnerabilities to climate change and overall progress towards achievement of adaptation objectives. The mechanism to ensure appropriateness of adaptation measures is in place. However, it needs to be implemented effectively and adjusted on a regular basis in response to new information and knowledge.

The Ministry of Climate Change acts as the focal agency in Pakistan for preparation, updating, coordination and implementation supervision of the Pak-INDC. A high-powered body comprising key stakeholders from national government, sub-national governments and private sector would steer the process.

The above institutional arrangements would continue, leading up to the review and revision of Pak-INDC and its implementation during the period 2016-2030. This institutional arrangement will also help improve national development planning processes.