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EDITORIAL: The landmark UN-sponsored Conference of Parties (COP) held in Paris in 2015 had set the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and reducing the global average temperature well below 2 degree Celsius this century. The COP26, being held in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31, a year after it was delayed because of Covid-19 pandemic, will judge how close or away is the world community from the goals fixed by the Paris accord. The conference, which will be attended by over one hundred heads of state and government and thousands of climate change activists, is also expected to fix new goals. The conference is likely to remind the developed countries of their promise of at least $100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020. There is no clear answer to the question whether the COP26 will be able to keep up the tempo generated by the Paris conference or it will be only confined to talk shows. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg says the COP26 is unlikely to lead to a “big change” but there is the sudden realization that we are facing an existential crisis and have to confront it. However, the conference would definitely miss the attendance of top leaders of China and Russia. But their absence is likely to be compensated by leaders of the developed countries who would be there to recommit their financial help to mitigate the negative impact of carbon emissions. Unlike the then US President, Donald Trump, who withdrew from the Paris agreement, the US would be represented by its current President Joe Biden. It is however difficult to speculate on oil-producing Middle Eastern countries’ response to the COP26. On the face of it, the climate change crisis poses a double whammy to them – while the world would be shifting to renewables in place of oil the rising temperatures are expected to create unlivable crisis for the oil-rich Middle East. Their deserts are expanding and dust storms intensifying, impacting river systems that supply water to millions.

Through no fault of its own, Pakistan is a severe casualty of climate change. It is however heartening to note that the incumbent government is conscious of the impending threat of climate change and its perilous consequences on the national economy. The ‘10 billion tree tsunami’ and other related initiatives clearly show Prime Minister Imran Khan’s strong commitment to climate protection. But he is not optimistic about the outcome of the COP26. Writing for The Times, he says the climate conference will end in failure without the developed countries meeting their financial commitment.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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