Climate change has become the biggest challenge for the world. But the populated South Asia countries such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, are the worst-hit by climate change effects. Scientists and researchers have warned that if greenhouse gases keep increasing, temperatures will exceed habitable levels by the end of this century.
According to researchers, 4% of the population of these countries will experience temperature and humidity conditions in which humans cannot survive without air-conditioning by 2100.
A study conducted by Elfatih Eltahir, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, extreme temperatures in South Asia is currently affecting around 15% of the region’s population. The heat wave, floods and landslides have killed more than 3,000 people in the three countries in recent years.
How to avoid this disastrous situation and stabilise a steep trajectory of greenhouse gases, is a big challenge to policymakers and governments of the region.
According to researchers, it is possible if substantial financial investments are made in green projects, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build these countries’ resilience to climate change.
“Stopping climate change is something we can only do as a global community, and we have to act together before it’s too late,” Marc Zuckerberg says.
The best solution to global warming is climate finance which refers to the financial instruments that may be drawn from national, regional and international entities to address climate change adaptation and mitigation projects.
The climate change finance is crucial as it requires greater investments to reduce higher emissions of greenhouse gases and pollution, caused mainly by road transport and an abnormal change in weather conditions in winter and summer, leading to higher demand for heating and cooling.
“People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations’ financing the injustice of climate change,” says Desmond Tuto
Unfortunately, some powerful financial and corporate giants have been resisting the global efforts to control emissions and stem global warming.
“People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations’ financing the injustice of climate change,” says Desmond Tuto, the most revered South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid.
Pakistan remains one of the ten countries that are vulnerable to climate change and already experiencing its impact in the shape of disasters and harsh weather conditions. It needs a lot of efforts on how it can access the climate finance offer.
Another major problem is the slump in the price of carbon credits making renewable energy projects expensive as sponsors are aiming to offset part of their cost by selling tradable certificates in international markets. The price of a carbon credit or the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide (CO2), has come down to around $2 from an average $10.
Pakistan has over a dozen projects in fertiliser, cement, power generation and other industries that have qualified for selling carbon credits. Some experts believe that the size of CO2 emissions, which could be brought down and converted into carbon credits, stands at around 43 million tons.
In developing countries such as Pakistan, climate change investment needs are enormous whereas government funds are scarce. But it should be accompanied by rules, fiscal incentives and effective markets at international, national, and sub-national levels to shift current and future investments.
“Stopping climate change is something we can only do as a global community, and we have to act together before it’s too late,” Marc Zuckerberg
In accordance with UNFCCC, developed countries are to provide financial resources to developing countries to tackle climate change. Developing countries, such as Pakistan, are combating with the scarce amount of finances to respond to the adverse effects of climate change. The risks posed by climate change and to accomplish the target of 2-degree centigrade goal means that our progress is subject to a substantial amount of financial aid flow from the developed countries. Climate finance, therefore becomes the backbone, upholding all the international agreements.
Pakistan’s response to climate change is less than desirable and the country has not been able to make effective use of global climate finance. However, ‘Pakistan vision 2025’ and National Climate Change Policy 2012 provide the basis for integrating climate – compatible and risk-informed budgeting into development plans and public investments. As the glaciers in northern Pakistan that deliver water to the Indus river system melt faster due to climate change, we are expecting more severe floods; and at some point, as our water sources are drying up and our population is increasing, Pakistan will need to manage with the water scarcity that it will face in the not too distant future.
Some of the climate finance fund available could be tremendously useful to cope with these challenges. If international climate finance will come with confined money and significant conditionality, then Pakistan wants to start preparing today. This will call for implementing governance mechanisms that are likely to be the prerequisite for accessing funds and identifying projects eligible to receive global climate finance funds. The danger, if we delay any further, is simply that someone else will take that money.
A study on the Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review (CPEIR) by LEAD Pakistan in collaboration with UNDP examines and analyses the level of climate change relevant spending in the projects related to various provincial and federal departments. It also evaluates the budgetary allocation of climate change in public funds. It ranks the institutions on the basis of their climate public expenditure and institutional policies in place to facilitate mitigation and adaptation measures. It determines how proactive Pakistan is towards spending on projects that directly or indirectly assist to combat climate change.
Although, Pakistan has been contributing to the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, by using a combination of public and international funds, the prevailing faulty system estimates incoherent and inaccurate data. This obstructs accurate data analysis and assessment. The level of uncertainty increases in the monitoring of climate finance flows within the private sector.
While having big numbers and hopes of climate finance inflows towards developing countries, such as ours, we need to understand that the importance of capacity building a strong accountability mechanism is the only way forward. Pakistan’s government needs seriously to reflect the transformational change, which looks into possibilities of important structural changes. For, these changes can develop the capacity to automatically distinguish the public and private climate change financial flows and feed these the monitoring, reporting and verification system. It is a collective endeavour and accountability to tackle the climate change globally and make our planet a better place to live.
We should do it now so that it’s not too late.
The writer is studying environmental sciences at Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi.