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Coronavirus
LOW Source: covid.gov.pk
Pakistan Deaths
28,761
824hr
Pakistan Cases
1,286,453
43124hr
0.98% positivity
Sindh
476,494
Punjab
443,379
Balochistan
33,491
Islamabad
107,848
KPK
180,254

EDITORIAL: COP26 proved anti-climactic for Go Green campaigners gathered outside the venue who hoped their presence might help underline the gravity of the situation and lend some weight to the proceedings, but it still wasn’t a complete whitewash as some of them are complaining. The deciding factor between winning and losing the war on climate change will, after all, be how much money can be committed to it in time to prevent an outright catastrophe. That explains why failure to reach an agreement about getting rich countries to cough up $100 billion that was agreed in Paris to help poor countries make the transition to green energy and also to help mitigate some of the damage already done by fossil fuels was such a letdown. But there’s a reason that committing rich countries to doubling their “climate finance”, while getting everybody to agree to strengthening “climate pledges” in line with Paris Agreement goals by next year, is being counted as a success.

Fossil fuel lobbyists grateful to Donald Trump for pulling the plug on Paris have been relishing the windfalls of the post-lockdown energy rush. Their muscle was on unreserved display at COP26 as well, when in the end China and India threatened to “break the whole thing down” unless the language about unabated coal and “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies was changed from ‘phase out’ to ‘phase down’. That, in turn, is really why no tangible targets could be set nor timeframes be defined. These countries, and coal-guzzling ones like Australia, just don’t feel it’s fair that industrialised countries could get away with fossil fuel excesses, even abuses, when they were industrialising but others can’t take the same path. So for high-emitters like them to come back to the table and agree to tighten climate targets in the short-term opens the door to more meaningful progress next year.

Now it will be even more important to do what was not done after the Paris Agreement; that is to make sure progress is monitored and pledges are honoured. Because even when the $100 billion figure was agreed in principle, even though nobody believed it was nearly enough to get the job done, there was nothing to bind rich countries to sign those cheques. And now, when keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius is downright impossible and island nations are more vulnerable than ever to rising sea levels, setting and meeting important targets will be crucial; provided, of course, that enough money flows to the right places.

Countries like Pakistan are in a particularly dark spot. We barely contributed anything at all to the damage done to the earth’s crust, yet we count among countries that will pay the heaviest price for it. And we’re not even party to any of the record profits the fossil fuel lobby is making from this situation. That is why Islamabad has been expressing fear about climate change at the highest international forums for the last couple of years. That is also why the prime minister’s idea of the ‘billion-tree tsunami’ must be appreciated as very timely and far-sighted. Yet a lot more needs to be done to bring down emissions. As things stand, we’re very likely to suffer the worst effects of climate change while industrialising way below the economy’s potential - the worst of both worlds. Now is the time to find the right balance, and there’s no better policy option available than keeping on the direction provided by COP26; for lack of better options if nothing else. It gives us something to look forward to, which is a whole lot better than nothing at all.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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