That Pakistan is at severe risk from multiple aspects of climate change is not at issue. The big issue facing the current and future governments is mitigation. The climate is heating up and extreme weather events becoming more frequent, and despite international efforts to construct a workable strategy to combat climate change, the targets that have been set are not being achieved and America under President Donald Trump has now backed away from the Paris Climate Accords. On the face of it there is little positive on the horizon, but for Pakistan there is as much opportunity as threat.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is real money on the table — but accessing it is something of a mountain to climb. The GCF is $10 billion of which $2 billion have already been allocated to 43 projects globally to increase climate change resilience for 125 million people — none of them to date Pakistani with the bulk of the money going to Africa and Asia-Pacific states. As ever the problem with Pakistan is transparency and efficiency, and accrediting agencies that are credible and verifiably so within the protocols of the GCF. Some work has been done on the positive side — the establishment of the Rescue 1122 service and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) both designed to respond to extreme disasters. The Billion Tree Afforestation programme in K-P is another, but the government(s) of now and in future have to do more, particularly improving response beyond emergencies.
The global narrative on climate change is evolving into one of opportunity and this is the bandwagon Pakistan needs to be on, and quickly. We have a role to play in the shaping of how the GCF $100 billion is spent and pushing forward on the diversification of the energy mix and renewable solutions, as well as developing business models that will increase employment are all elements contributing to mitigating the effects of climate change. Accessing GCF funding is going to be a tough call for governments perennially mired in scandal and corruption, but it is an opportunity we cannot afford to pass up. The solution lies in our own hands.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2017.