SCO asked to make climate action plan Pak-specific

PM addresses summit meeting; warns against ignoring Afghanistan


AGENCIES September 16, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses the SCO moot in Samarkand. Photo: Radio Pak

SAMARKAND:

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called upon the member states of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Friday to come up with Pakistan-specific programmes on climate change, which induced devastating rains and subsequent floods in the country.

Addressing the heads of state meeting of the eight-member SCO in the historic city of Samarkand, the prime minister termed the flood rampage in Pakistan “climatic injustice” that had never been witnessed before.

“This climatic injustice has befallen us despite the fact that our carbon emission is less than 1%,” Shehbaz told the SCO summit. “I earnestly appeal to all of you that let the SCO stand up and take steps against this devastation through sustainable programmes,” he added.

“Pakistan never faced such level of climate-induced catastrophe in its history that inflicted disaster upon human lives, infrastructure, livestock and crops,” the prime minister said. “I would be very honest to urge this forum to extend assistance to Pakistan.”

The prime minister’s call to the SCO members came in the wake of the recent floods that wreaked havoc with the livelihood and infrastructure across the country. He stressed the dire need for assistance by the international community, including relief and rehabilitation.

He mentioned that hill torrents and rains killed 1,400 people, while millions of houses were damaged partially or completely. “In view of the massive disaster, I would be very honest to urge this forum to … chalk out plans regarding climate change for our future generations.”

The prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s firm and unwavering commitment to achieving the goals of the SCO. He expressed Pakistan’s commitment to join the SCO states in implementing robust connectivity plans among the neighbouring regional countries.

“It will be a win-win outcome for all the member states. This is the time to act, and act now,” he stressed. He stressed that Pakistan was firm in collective dedication to fight the menace of extremism, separatism and terrorism.

In fight against terrorism, the prime minister said, thousands of Pakistani civilians and armed forces laid down their lives for the security of their homeland. He added that Pakistan valued peace, progress and shared development for the region.

The prime minister warned that it would be a “big mistake if we ignored” Afghanistan.

“We have to work together to support all good initiatives in Afghanistan for the good of the people of Afghanistan in areas, particularly education, health and human rights,” he said.

He emphasised that strengthening Afghanistan was vital in view of the stability of the region besides achieving the goals of the SCO. He urged the SCO to work towards unfreezing the assets of Afghanistan, and ensuring respect for human rights, especially women and minorities.

The prime minister congratulated the Iranian president on the attainment of full membership of his country to the platform of SCO– a Beijing-led group of states across Eurasia. On Thursday, Iran became the ninth permanent member of the organisation.

The summit meeting – in the ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand – adopted a joint statement on climate change that called for a “balance” between reducing carbon emissions and allowing poorer states to catch up with economically-developed countries.

The statement “unanimously recognised the negative consequences of climate change and the need for urgent action”. However, it also called for increased investment in oil and gas production and exploration.

The group also slammed “coercive measures” to force countries into reducing emissions at a set pace, saying that countries “have the right to independently set national goals in the field of climate change prevention”.

It said: “Unilateral coercive measures violate multilateral principles, seriously undermine multilateral cooperation and collective and national efforts to address climate change, and weaken the ability of countries to address climate change.”

China and Russia are aiming to reach “net zero” emissions by 2060, but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also attended the summit, reaffirmed that his country was setting 2070 as its target.

The SCO pushed back against calls for a wholesale move away from polluting fossil fuels in favour of cleaner renewable energy. “It is important ... to use the common and complementary advantages of fossil fuels and clean energy sources and, in this regard, to increase investment in the exploration and production of fossil fuels,” SCO members said.

In a swipe at the West, the SCO leaders also criticised countries that tried to “use the climate agenda to introduce measures to restrict trade and investment cooperation”.

The European Union is at the forefront of Western efforts to introduce a carbon border tax. The tariffs could hit Russia’s vital commodity exports as well as a range of manufactured goods from SCO members China, India and Pakistan.

Separately, in an interview with Anadolu Agency, Prime Minister Shehbaz said that the international community’s support in the rehabilitation of flood-ravaged Pakistan was a matter of justice, not just solidarity.

The prime minister proposed “debt swaps for climate action,” saying death, devastation, and destruction were “driven by global climate change causes”. “Therefore, the response calls for international solidarity and collective action,” he added.

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