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ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a round table discussion termed the COP28 as a crucial stage for discussions on a key subject with far-reaching consequences, particularly, operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund for the developing world.

The Centre for Strategic Perspectives (CSP) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), in collaboration with Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change (CSCCC), organised a roundtable discussion on “COP 28: An Analytical View.”

The keynote speaker at the event was Asif Hyder Shah, secretary Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordi nation. Other panelists at the event included Aisha Khan, executive director CSCCC; Dr Imran Saqib Khalid, director Governance & Policy WWF, Pakistan; Dr Shafqat Munir, head of Resilient Development Program, SDPI; Dr Ilhan Niaz, professor QAU; Ahsan Tehsin, World Bank; Nadeem Ahmad, Climate & Energy Attache at Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and Fiza, Fatima Jinnah University, Rawalpindi.

In her opening remarks, Dr Neelum Nigar, Director of CSP, highlighted the significance of key decisions made during COP28. She underscored the necessity for a comprehensive analysis of the outcomes and their impact on stakeholders, providing valuable insights for policymakers.

In his welcome address, DG ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood noted that COP28 has undeniably set the stage for discussions on a crucial subject with far-reaching consequences. The decision to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund on the conference’s first day marked a historic moment, especially for the developing world. Another significant decision involved increasing the role of nuclear energy and reducing fossil fuel usage in the energy mix.

He further stated that Pakistan’s engagement at COP28 was robust and dynamic, showcasing collaboration among different ministries and the synergic connections developed. Moving forward, Pakistan needs to focus on mitigation and adaptation strategies by adopting sustainable practices. He stressed that a comprehensive approach on “green transition” had to be placed high on the national agenda.

In her opening remarks, Ms Khan highlighted that COP28 marked the first Global Stock Take (GST) post the 2015 Paris Agreement, focusing on advancing the global agenda. Recognizing the time-consuming nature of resolutions on climate change issues, COP28 witnessed crucial decisions, particularly regarding climate finance. Emphasizing Pakistan’s strong representation at COP28, Ms Khan underscored the need for integrating GST into the National Stock Take (NST) for Pakistan. Given the country’s extensive climate change challenges, a multi-sectoral approach is essential for effective resolution.

In his keynote address, Shah underscored the substantial progress achieved during COP28, culminating in a host of positive outcomes and increased transparency in climate finance. Notably, Pakistan secured a position on the board of the Loss and Damage Fund, demonstrating its commitment to addressing the impacts of climate change. Additionally, Pakistan’s representation on the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage (SNLD) further solidifies its global engagement.

Asif Shah emphasized that GST talks were about means of implementation and transition towards renewable energy. Further, Pakistan needs to diversify its energy mix. Reducing GHG emissions by 2030 is a big challenge and Pakistan has to upgrade its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) targets accordingly. Recognizing the cross-cutting nature of climate change, Shah stressed the vital role of every institution in Pakistan, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts. Concluding his address, Shah acknowledged the competitive landscape for accessing the Green Climate Fund, highlighting the imperative for Pakistan to enhance its capacity to secure international funding.

Dr Khalid emphasized that climate change represents a global security issue, underlining the persistent challenge of escalating GHG emissions since the initial COP where global emissions first took center stage. He stressed the imperative for COPs to prioritize transparency in negotiations, recognizing the potential for vested interests to dilute the core issues.

Addressing Pakistan’s role, Dr Khalid highlighted the need for the country to enhance its climate change policies to effectively navigate emerging challenges. The evolving nature of climate-related issues necessitates continuous policy improvement and adaptation.

Dr Munir highlighted two key developments at COP28, focusing on the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund and a commitment to reduce the use of fossil fuels in the future. While positive steps were taken, tangible results are still pending, indicating the need for careful examination of the language used and how it aligns with addressing ongoing challenges. Despite progress, a substantial undertaking lies ahead in mobilising finances, warranting a comprehensive evaluation.

In his remarks, Dr Niaz emphasized that the Global North has yet to assume its primary responsibilities and a critical examination is needed to determine the driving forces behind climate disruptions. Viewing climate change through the lens of neo-liberal globalization, he highlighted that the world’s wealthiest entities contribute most to GHG emissions, both within and across societies. Dr Niaz underscored the disparity in attention given to developing countries like Pakistan, which are more vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Proposing a solution, he suggested that a model similar to the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) could effectively address climate change issues in Pakistan. This restructuring would involve a coordinated and centralized approach to tackle the multifaceted challenges posed by climate change.

In his remarks, Ahmad highlighted that the Paris Agreement marked a shift in responsibility for all countries to address GHG emissions, adopting a bottom-up approach. The culmination of this approach was evident in the first GST at COP28. During COP28, Pakistan signed 8 declarations as part of global leadership initiatives. Ahmad stressed the need for Pakistan to reevaluate its (NDCs) post-GST at COP28.

He emphasized the necessity for both quantitative and qualitative approaches to adaptation, urging their incorporation into the National Adaptation Policy, particularly at the provincial level. This restructuring aims to enhance the effectiveness of adaptation strategies in addressing the diverse challenges posed by climate change.

Tehsin highlighted the momentous occasion of COP28, attributing its significance to the UAE consensus. He underscored the urgency of initiating the flow of finances from the Global North to the Global South. The World Bank (WB) has committed to global financing for climate change projects, including exploring debt restructuring for nations grappling with climate-induced calamities.

Furthermore, Tehsin outlined the WB’s collaboration with Pakistan, aiming to enhance the country’s institutional capacity to effectively manage global finances. This strategic partnership seeks to strengthen Pakistan’s ability to navigate and leverage international financial support for climate-related initiatives.

Ms Fiza, a youth delegate at COP28, highlighted the significant achievement of including youth delegates in the Pakistan delegation. She emphasized that providing a platform for youth to engage with policymakers on climate change issues is crucial. This interaction brings a fresh perspective to policymaking, ensuring a more inclusive and dynamic approach to addressing the impact of climate change on the country.

In the interactive discussion, participants exchanged their views and expressed appreciation for the valuable insights shared by the speakers who attended COP. The significance of the discussion was underscored, as it provided a platform for diverse perspectives and informed discourse on the key issues addressed at the conference.

The event was concluded with a vote of thanks by Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, chairman of the Board of Governors ISSI.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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