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Monday Jul 13 2020

Pakistan takes big stride forward in climate change, meets UN goal decade before deadline

A general view of Passu glacier is seen in Pakistan’s Gojal Valley on September 28, 2015,. Photo: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday passed a crucial milestone on its road to environmental protection by meeting United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13, which calls for urgent actions to combat climate change, according to the UN Sustainable Development Report 2020.

The report is an annual global assessment of countries' signs of progress towards meeting the SDGs.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on climate change Malik Amin Aslam said the meeting of the UN’s SDG 13 by Pakistan and that, too, well before the 2030 deadline, was a landmark achievement for pursuing the other goals, including poverty and hunger elimination, provision of quality healthcare, education, clean water and sanitation services to people, gender equality and justice, and peace.

“With the achieving of the Climate Action SDG 13, Pakistan has proved that it is committed to global efforts against the challenge of climate change to protect life on planet earth,” he told reporters here.

Highlighting the government's initiatives against climate change, Amin said adoption and implementation of different low carbon growth trajectory, mitigation and adaptation initiatives paved the way for the country to achieve the goal.

Speaking about the government’s major initiatives towards achieving the goals, the adviser said 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, Clean Green Pakistan Initiative, Clean Green Pakistan Index, Protected Areas Initiative, Eco-system Restoration Fund were among some of the initiatives which helped with the goal.

According to the prime minister’s adviser, in the Climate Risk Index 2020, Germanwatch, a sustainable development advocacy group, ranked Pakistan in its long-term ranking fifth among the countries most affected by extreme weather events.

The Index showed Pakistan among 10 countries most affected by climate change in the last 20 years due to its geographical location. Amin said in view of economic damages estimated at $3.8 million in the Germanwatch Index 2020, Pakistan had been ranked number three in the long-term assessment over a 20-year period (1999-2028).

“This means that our economy is at peril from climate catastrophes and this is not alone an environmental challenge but also an issue affecting our economy, human health, agriculture and ecosystem,” he said, adding that the government has taken a raft of measures at policy, management and operational levels to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on the country.

The premier’s aide said climate crisis was affecting every country and Pakistan was no exception in terms of impacts of the crisis and heightened vulnerability to it.

“Global heating is disrupting not only national economies and affecting lives and livelihoods of people and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow,” Amin said. “Because of the soaring climate-altering carbon emissions globally, people and communities are experiencing the significant impacts of human-caused climate change including rapidly changing weather patterns, rising sea level, heat waves, droughts, expanding desertification, forest fires, cyclones, unseasonal rains and torrential floods.”

Amin said with carbon emissions being at their highest levels in the human history and on the rise, the world’s average surface temperature was projected to go up over the 21st century unless serious actions to contain them were taken.

He, however, said affordable mitigation and affordable solutions existed and needed to be adopted and scaled up to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies. “Turning to renewable energy and a range of other measures that will reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts is a key way forward as a part of viable climate action,” he said.

The prime minister’s adviser said Pakistan had also begun converting the China Pakistan Economic Corridor into the China-Pakistan Green Economic Corridor and had shelved the 2740MW imported coal projects signed by the previous government and replaced them by zero-carbon and indigenous hydel projects of 3700MW capacity.

“This paradigm shift alone shows the commitment of this government to climate-friendly growth and sustainable development which is good for not only Pakistan but also beneficial for the world,” he said.

Originally published in The News