Climate changes is one of the defining challenges of our times. It can only be countered with inclusive, cooperative and long-lasting policies. Unfortunately, the US president Joe Biden has not invited Pakistan to the Leader’s Summit on Climate, which is scheduled to take place virtually on April 22 and 23 this year despite Pakistan’s steady commitment to play its due role in the fight. 40 leaders from across the world, including India and Bangladesh, are invited to the summit in an attempt “to galvanize efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis”. How this summit is being considered as a key milestone by Washington on the road to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow with the selective exclusion of Pakistan is questionable.
Officials and environmentalists in Pakistan are annoyed over the country’s exclusion from this summit despite the fact that Pakistan, according to the Global Climate Risk Index, is the fifth most vulnerable country with regard to global warming. The government’s commitment and environmental landmark initiative in the fight against climate change, like the Billion Tree Tsunami project, has won international acclaim, including from the World Economic Forum. This decision is surprising to say the least and makes no sense as leaders from countries responsible for approximately 80% of global emissions have been invited. How can the desired targets be achieved when Pakistan is blatantly snubbed and excluded from the process?
Perhaps the administration is urging Pakistan to bring the full weight of its influence on the Taliban leadership since the current assessment is that Pakistan is not pressing the Taliban enough. So, until that happens, the Biden administration will not offer many positive inducements to Pakistan. This development is unfortunate as it only offers further evidence to prove the existing widespread claims that Pakistan’s significance for the US remains limited to the country’s security efficacy for Washington.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2021.