Pakistan needs $14b annually to combat climate change

Maleeha Lodhi says 90% of natural disasters in country triggered by weather conditions


Xinhua March 31, 2019
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan needs around $14 billion annually to adapt a comprehensive strategy to deal with climate change issues, as the country is one of the most vulnerable nations impacted by it, Pakistan's Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi told a high-level meeting at the UN on Friday.

The meeting on 'Climate and Sustainable Development for All' gathered together high-ranking government officials or representatives. The participants pledged that their governments would continue to take more practical actions to cope with the fast-paced climate change.

"Around 90% of all natural disasters that have hit Pakistan have been triggered by climate change, putting enormous burden on our development capabilities and our ability to achieve sustainable development," Lodhi said.

"In this backdrop, we have developed a comprehensive strategy to address climate change," she said, adding, "Our adaptation needs are around $14 billion per annum. We therefore urge our partners to fulfil their pledges of mobilising $100 billion a year by 2020."

New Zealand's climate change ambassador, Stephanie Lee, told the meeting that her country "has identified climate change as one of the defining issues of this generation". To combat climate change, the country has already banned new offshore oil and gas exploration and has pledged transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035. "We will plant one billion trees over the next decade."

Noting that at the current emission pace, the world will surpass the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius around the year 2040, Eva Svedling, state secretary to minister for environment and climate of Sweden, said that "we must act based on what science tells us and make more efficient use of energy, increase the use of renewable sources and phase out the use of fossil fuels."

As for African countries, climate change is also a matter of great concern. Patricia Appiagyei, deputy minister for environment, science, technology and innovation of Ghana, said that her country is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

"The challenge of climate change in Ghana is real. Rainfall patterns have changed and become less predictable. The warming of the sea is also affecting fishing," she said. To cope with the dire situation, 11 programmes covering seven priority economic sectors are being proposed for implementation in the next 10 years, she added.

"We are already implementing climate change programmes on the ground, aimed at promoting renewable energy, supporting adoption of clean cooking, sharing sustainable consumption and production, and pursuing a low carbon electricity supply," she said.

Dang Dinh Quy, Vietnam's permanent representative to the UN, while recognising the real threat of climate change like all other speakers, called for making efforts to reinforce the national capacity "by enhancing effective cooperation" with all relevant stakeholders. "International cooperation in terms of capacity building, transfer of technologies for climate adaptation, etc will play a critical role in this endeavour," he said.

Patrick Suckling, Australian Ambassador for the Environment, brought some good news to the meeting. "While the Australian economy has experienced 27 years of economic growth, we have driven our emissions per unit of GDP to its lowest level in 29 years," Suckling said.

"Emissions in our electricity sector are falling, driven by unprecedented investment in renewable energy—Australia has one of the highest rates of uptake of residential solar in the world," he said. "In February, our government announced A$3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package to tackle climate change in Australia and to build momentum toward achieving our target under the Paris Agreement," he added.

The objectives of the two-day high-level meeting, which kicked off on Thursday at the UN headquarters in New York, included highlighting the inter-linkage between climate and economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development for present and future generations.

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