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EDITORIAL: Transparency International Pakistan’s (TIP’s) latest findings, that the country faces losses worth $4 billion annually due to the impact of climate change, underscore the urgent need for a comprehensive climate governance programme aimed at mitigating the economic challenges posed by global warming and devising policies that foster climate resilience.

In a report that evaluates the effectiveness of Pakistan’s existing climate governance framework, the TIP notes that while the country has made headway when it comes to setting clear climate change mitigation targets, the progress on achieving these goals remains patchy, largely due to the sporadic success in establishing an appropriate climate finance regime.

For several years now, Pakistan has worryingly remained among the top ten countries most impacted by the effects of climate change.

However, what is equally disturbing is that it is still not among the top ten recipients of climate change finance. Its inadequate access to climate finance, as well as the glacial progress made in operationalising and empowering the institutions that were meant to be set up under the Climate Change Act 2017 has led to a situation where the country remains woefully ill-equipped to mitigate the impact of volatile weather events, which are set to wreak havoc long into the future as a recent NASA-led analysis has revealed.

NASA has projected that global average sea levels will increase by about eight inches by 2050 as a result of the El Nino weather effect.

This would represent a doubling of the rate of climate change in the next three decades compared to the previous century, leading to a future characterised by flooding events that are more frequent and severe than they are today, something which can have dire consequences for a country like ours.

Despite the direness of the predicament we face, as the TIP points out, the country’s climate governance has not received the kind of leadership it requires, “creating gaps and limiting access to climate finance sources”. Pakistan’s climate finance regime lacks a unified policy framework, and consists of a patchwork of various minor amendments within the federal government’s public finance management system, guided by relevant ministries.

This has made it difficult for the government to access climate finance, as well as dissuaded international donors from advancing funding as they favour an organised and transparent apparatus that ensures their financing is used effectively.

Another inadequacy is the lack of alignment and coordination between federal and provincial climate policies, as well as among the various ministries, departments and disaster management authorities that oversee various aspects of climate change.

This has led to the incomplete and selective implementation of relevant policies. For example, the Climate Change Authority that was to be set up under the Climate Change Act 2017 is still non-existent. Given the huge economic consequences as well as loss of lives that the country has witnessed over the last decade due to extreme weather events, this sort of inaction is unforgivable.

The enormity of the challenge at hand makes it imperative that we adopt a “whole of society” approach that integrates the climate perspective in every policy and every project that is undertaken in the country, whether these pertain to energy, agriculture, industry, water, or any other area.

In addition, Pakistan must harmonise its climate governance agenda with global best practices, while also ensuring improved coordination among various ministries and departments, and enhanced capacity building at the provincial and district levels.

We need to realise that countering climate change is ultimately dependent on smooth, competent and transparent governance.

Without this basic prerequisite, our ability to generate much-needed climate finance from both domestic and international sources will remain inadequate and we’ll continue to struggle to protect our most vulnerable citizens from climate catastrophes.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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KU Apr 02, 2024 09:42pm
UN climate warnings for Pakistan are frightening, next 2 years might see food shortages, upheaval/misery in society. Our leaders and Raj will be the fist ones to run away, leaving behind carnage.
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