COP27: looking into prevalent climate disparity among nations – 23 Sep 2022

Pakistan has received 2.87% more rainfall than the average with more than 33 million people stand affected

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ underpinning words delivered at the Glasgow Conference of Parties (COP26) were enchanting: “Young people know it [global climate change], every country sees it, small and developing states and the other vulnerable ones live it.”

The last sentence underscores the overall climate discourse today. Around 197 countries participated in the COP26 and most of them ‘updated’ their pledges to fund the developing countries.

The imperative aspect of all climate conferences, initiated in 1994, has been the pledge made at COP15 in 2009 by the world leaders — to aid the developing countries to cope with climate change impacts. The wealthiest nations pledged to dole out aid to the poorer countries, taking it 100-billion-dollar mark from 2020 onwards.

Despite this, the developing countries have witnessed world powers drifting away from the promise, compounding the climate woes in developing countries.

Take Pakistan for instance. Despite being a meager contributor — just one per cent — to the global GHG emissions, Pakistan stands highly susceptible to climate change impacts. The recent monsoon has wreaked havoc across the country which has received 2.87% more rainfall than the average. More than 33 million people stand affected while nearly 1,500 have been killed and as many more injured.

Though Pakistan has submitted its renewed nationally determined contribution (NDC) document, showing a resolve to convert its 30% transportation into electrical as part of a policy to shift to clean energy and cutting off its 60% dependence on fossil fuel on way to adopting renewable energy resources. This Pakistan intends to achieve in 30 years. However, bridging the determined intension and the practical shift seems to be a distant reality since the country is going through serious economic hardships, compounded by extreme weather events that have inflicted a huge economic loss on the country estimated locally at $40 billion.

Now that the road to COP27 is set, there are two parts of the problem to delve into in order to ensure that vulnerable countries achieve maximum immunity against climate-related catastrophes. First, the wealthiest nations must fulfil their financing pledge made at COP15. Once the financial aid starts flowing in, the second task would be to stick to a formula of using half the funds for mitigation and half for climate adaptation. This is one of the integral and crucial aspects of financial support earmarked during COP15 in 2009.

Unfortunately, this balance has not been maintained; and 75% funds aim at mitigation plans while merely 25% for climate adaptation. Developing countries like Pakistan need to increase spending on climate adaptation given the fact that rapid shift to renewable energy remains a Herculean task and might take decades since the country stands at economic crossroads. On the other hand, climate adaptation plans might be cost-effective and can be implemented more reliably and efficiently than the former.

The COP26 remains an integral part of the climate change discourse that vividly highlights the climate communication gap between the developed and developing nations. The Third World countries have been hanging between the climate effects and lack of awareness about the looming threats of the rapidly changing climate. A report released by the Yale Programme on Climate Change Communication in 2015 revealed perplexing results. According to the study, 65% adults in developing countries were unaware of the climate change; and a few people, in general, were aware of it compared to 90% of those living in developed countries.

The COP27 must adhere to commitments made to finance developing countries. And once the developing countries have a hand on it, they have to make sure half the funds are spent on climate adaption along with ensuring that climate change education makes inroads into the education systems of the all developing countries, as bridging the climate communication gap is also crucial to achieve climate mitigation and adaptation goals.

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