Pakistan has called for urgent action to limit global warming, which poses an existential threat to humanity, during a high-level debate at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
The day-long meeting on Tuesday came just ahead of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow for countries to deliver on the promise of keeping global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.
In his remarks, Ambassador Aamir Khan, Pakistan’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, urged developed country to present a clear roadmap at COP26 in Glasgow on their obligations to mobilise $100 billion per year, and to urgently initiate the process within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on setting a new collective quantified goal on finance.
“It is unfortunate that the countries that have contributed the least towards environment degradation are bearing the brunt of climate catastrophe,” the Pakistani envoy told the 193-member General Assembly.
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In this regard, he referred to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement at the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) in Riyadh that Pakistan’s per capita carbon emissions are among the lowest in the world; less than 1% of global emissions.
Pakistan was the 8th most affected country in the world by climate change, Aamir Khan said, pointing out that since 2010, more than 30 million Pakistanis have been affected by climate change with the loss and damage exceeding $14 billion.
On its part, Pakistan had taken bold actions, highlighting the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Poroject that alone has contributed to sequestration of 8.4 Metric Tons of CO2 during 2016-2021.
By 2030, he said 60% of all energy produced in the country will be generated from renewable energy resources and 30 % of all new vehicles sold in Pakistan in various categories will be electric vehicles.
A moratorium on new imported coal power plants has already been announced, and two of the existing new coal fired power projects have been replaced with hydropower projects.
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“These actions have enabled us to reduce emissions by 9% in 5 years,” the Pakistani envoy said, stressing international cooperation in terms of finances, capacity building, and technology transfer in accordance with the commitments of the Paris Agreements.
“We believe that funding for adaptation must be stepped up urgently by developed countries,” he said, adding that at least 50% of all climate finance must be allocated for it.
“We also urge that, at COP26, consensus should be achieved on a multilaterally agreed definition of climate finance and the related methodologies for accounting”.
In his opening remarks, Assembly President Abdulla Shahid highlighted the “blunt realities” of climate impacts such as rising sea levels, which are threatening island nations like his homeland, the Maldives.
However, as the architect of a “Presidency of Hope”, Shahid stressed that countries can confront these challenges if they work together.
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“Today’s event will not solve climate change, only action will,” he said, speaking from the rostrum. “Today’s event is about reminding people of what we are capable of if we act in concert, trust in science, and intelligently mobilise the many resources we have at our disposal.”
The UN and its General Assembly, where all 193 member states are represented, were created so that countries could unite to address common crises such as climate change, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the meeting.
COP26 in Glasgow will be a moment of truth, he added, because despite the alarm bells, governments’ actions so far “simply do not add up to what is so desperately needed.”
The world currently remains on a track for global temperature rise of 2.7 degrees Celsius, far from the 1.5 degree goal, or what Guterres called “the only liveable future for humanity.”