BONN, GERMANY: Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan came to a high-level ministerial event in Bonn on Tuesday evening prepared with a written speech for the COP23 meet, only to discover that the ministers were instead required to speak extempore, as questions were asked directly by the moderator.
The event was called ‘Champions for Climate Action: The NDC Partnership’ and was attended by ministers from over 30 countries.
Hence, for the sake of brevity, the moderator called each minister on stage to give a short statement on why Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are important.
NDCs are voluntary national plans to cut carbon emissions that have been submitted by each country to the UNFCC under the Paris Agreement of 2015.
The Pakistani minister, unable to answer a simple question regarding the relevance of NDCs to Pakistan briefly, insisted upon giving his 5 minutes long written speech, much to the consternation of the moderator. Since a concert of Beethoven’s melodies had been scheduled for delegates the same evening, time was running short.
The moderator allowed Khan two minutes to give his written speech at the podium, which ended up lasting for more than double the time he had been allocated. There were other ministers at the event who could not speak English well, and had their brief comments translated instead.
The jam-packed hall, full of global media, ministers’ entourages and heads from the Asian Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility, initially found it amusing, but it was nevertheless an extremely embarrassing moment for Pakistan with all the world watching.
A minister from the small island of St Lucia in the Caribbean, who followed Mushahidullah, gave an eloquent reply to the moderator questions, stating that: “NDCs are at the intersection of the conversation we are having at home and the actions required under the Paris Agreement”. She added that given the island’s financial constraints, with adequate financial support “there is greater hope we can meet our NDC goal”.
The NDC Partnership is a global initiative to help countries achieve their national climate commitments and ensure financial and technical assistance is delivered as efficiently as possible.
The idea behind the event in Bonn was for ministers and heads of organizations from NDC Partnership member countries to share their experiences working together to achieve their climate and sustainable development targets.
Pakistan re-submitted its NDC document to the UN last year in which it estimates a four-fold increase in the country’s carbon emissions by 2030. The country pledges to cut its emissions 20% by 2030, contingent upon a US $40 billion aid promise.
In each NDC, countries have publicly outlined the post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under the Paris Agreement. The climate actions communicated in these NDCs largely determine whether the world achieves the long-term goals of the Paris Accord to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C and to achieve net zero emissions worldwide in the second half of this century.