ISLAMABAD, Nov 25 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said the Government of Pakistan remained fully committed to play a leadership role in addressing the issue of climate change and making a shift towards a “clean and green” Pakistan through a well-articulated climate change agenda consisting of a number of on-the-ground flagship initiatives.
The prime minister, in an article which is part of the ‘World Economic Forum’s Country Strategic Dialogue on Pakistan 2020’, titled “Leading by doing”, said climate change was undoubtedly, the most threatening issue of the time and an issue without a vaccine.
“There is no short-cut solution to enhanced, cooperative and coordinated global climate action. Pakistan stands ready and committed to not only play its role in furthering global efforts to combat this menace but also lead the way with real on-the-ground solutions,” he added.
The prime minister said climate change is one of the defining global challenges faced by our generation. It has far-reaching adverse economic, social and political impacts.
— World Economic Forum (@wef) November 25, 2020
“The world is already witnessing unprecedented floods, severe droughts, increasing heat waves, spreading wildfires and fierce cyclonic activity. All of these pose a clear and present danger for humanity. While no country is immune from these impacts of climate change, most developing countries remain disproportionately affected by its negative impacts,” he observed.
Imran Khan said, “Pakistan is a case in point, as it lies at the geographic crossroads of melting glaciers, unpredictably shifting monsoons and enhanced disaster activity triggered by climate change.”
Despite Pakistan’s diminutive contribution to global green house gas emissions, it was the fifth most climate-impacted country in the world, as indicated by the German watch Global Climate Risk Index, 2020, he added.
The prime minister further said Pakistan was also actively pursuing innovative global financing for its ambitious climate agenda, through structuring “Debt for Nature” swaps or “Nature Bonds” based on the credible ongoing activities outlined above and the renegotiation of its burgeoning debt with countries supportive of a green revival.
“There is an urgent need for simultaneously raising ambition for climate action, while also building resilience and adapting to the inescapable impacts of climate change,” he stressed.
Subsequent to the successful achievement of planting a billion trees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (2014-18), which enhanced the provincial forest cover by 6%, he said they were now implementing the “10 Billion Trees Tsunami” initiative which would restore and enhance over 1 million hectares of forest across the country.
The project, he said, was expected to deliver multiple dividends by creating green jobs, sequestering carbon as well as promoting ecosystem-based adaptation. ‘A truly win-win nature based solution,’ he added.
The prime minister said in addition, the “Protected Areas Initiative”, launched during the COVID-19 era, was enhancing the national coverage of protected areas from 12% to 15% of land area while preserving Pakistan’s unique and valuable biodiversity and had already increased the number of National Parks from 30 to 45 in just one year.
“All of these are also creating nature jobs while creating opportunities for eco-tourism and climate change adaptation at the same time,” he maintained.
On the energy side, the prime minister said Pakistan remained committed to realizing the untapped renewable energy potential – in hydro, solar and wind – and to shift its energy mix to 60% clean energy by 2030.
“This clean energy transition is complemented by the enactment of our first Electric Vehicle policy (2020), which targets 30% of our vehicles to go electric by 2030,” he added.
He said, furthermore, the world’s first “zero emissions” metro line project designed to turn cattle dung into methane to power buses, had already been approved for the city of Karachi.
Recently, he said, they also shifted the transport fuel quality from Euro-2 to the much cleaner Euro-V standard in one big leap. “All these initiatives speak to our unrelenting commitment to eco-friendly, sustainable and climate-compatible development,” the prime minister added while enumerating various initiatives of his government.
He said on climate adaptation, Pakistan remained a vulnerable country without a choice as its climate adaptation needed range from $7 billion to $14 billion per annum, as they were compelled to undertake adaptation measures in response to climate triggered disasters.
“Amid this adversity, we have realized the value of investing in nature-based solutions.
One such solution is the eco-system-based ‘Recharge Pakistan’ initiative, which aims to effectively manage and prudently utilize our water resources – turning catastrophic floods into an opportunity for recharging aquifers and naturally restoring ecosystems.
This project, when fully implemented, will positively impact around 10 million vulnerable people, through reduced risk from floods and enhanced livelihoods by the year 2030,” he added.
About the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the prime minister said it was inflicting unparalleled human suffering and had triggered the worst recession since the 1930s Great Depression.
The developing countries had been hit the hardest and their contracting economies had posed a serious threat to their quest for raising ambition for climate action, he added.
Even in the challenging times, Imran Khan said, Pakistan carved out a silver lining through “Green Stimulus”, aimed at nature protection and creation of green jobs.
“During the pandemic lockdowns we have created around 85,000 COVID safe green jobs – planting trees, protecting nature and improving sanitation – which are planned to be scaled-up to 200,000 by December 2020. This Green Stimulus is helping Pakistan to build back green and focus on a nature positive recovery,” he added.
The prime minister said climate action by the developing countries, however, had to be based on the established principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR–RC) – as agreed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement.
It was also vital that developing countries were supported with enhanced climate finance, appropriate technology transfer and supportive capacity-building, he added.
In that regard, the prime minister noted that the existing pledge by the developed countries to mobilize $100 billion annually in climate finance for the developing countries remained critically essential, but as yet unfulfilled.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said with the current account deficit recorded in surplus after 17 years, the huge trade deficit of US$ 40 billion curtailed, exports increasing and stock market performing well, Pakistan’s economy was improving and growing well in the region.
He also mentioned other positive economic trends, including the higher sales of cement and other construction materials, and the measures taken by the present government that had put the economy on right track.
As regards the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Imran Khan said it was not just exclusive for China or connectivity but also for the establishment of power generation projects to fuel Pakistan’s economic and industrial growth.
The second phase of CPEC, he said, focused on the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Pakistan, help in the development of agriculture sector, modernization of railway, digitalization and others.
The prime minister said the development of ML-1, a modern railway track under CPEC from Peshawar to Karachi, and other projects would help boost the country’s connectivity with the region, including Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and China.
He said Pakistan with its strategic location and connectivity was very well placed in the region.
He, however, added that the key to them was Afghanistan where after a long time prospects of peace had emerged. Pakistan had played an important role in bringing the United States and Taliban on the table for talks and then pushing for intra-Afghan dialogue for peace in the war ravaged country.
Imran Khan appreciated US President Donald Trump for his role in the Afghan peace process by saying “President Trump did a great job”.
He hoped that US President-elect Joe Biden was not going to reverse it. “I hope everyone will be trying to push peace process in Afghanistan”, he added.
The prime minister said since it was not the job of any government to do business, his government was encouraging the private sector to play its effective role in the economic growth and wealth creation.
The public-private partnership was the future of the country’s economic development and growth, he added.
Imran Khan said Pakistan with a population of 220 million was a huge market, which offered opportunities of investment in diverse areas of economy, including the agriculture sector.
The government was taking measures to tackle the food inflation issue in a way that farmers get fair return of their produce and consumers get commodities on reasonable prices, he added.
The prime minister said as Pakistan had the problem of grading and marketing of its agricultural products, including fruits in the international market, foreign investors would be welcomed.
The government, he added, would also encourage and welcome the investment in automobile sector, particularly in electric vehicles, which, besides being environment-friendly, could boost the country’s exports as well.
The prime minister said Pakistan, which was moving on the path of industrial revolution in 1960s, was reversed back due to the policy of socialism in 1970s and it was the time when wealth creation was considered as a crime.
His government was encouraging and offering incentives to the industries, including the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to do indulge in wealth creation and make profits through enhanced industrial activities, he added.
The prime minister also mentioned the enhanced activities in Pakistan’s construction sector and said 30 allied industries got boost through construction.
The current Pakistan of 2020 was all about facilitating the business and industry for creating wealth and lifting the people out of poverty like China did, he remarked.
The prime minister said the electricity tariff in Pakistan, which was 25% higher than that of India and Bangladesh due to agreements made with the private power producers in the past, was also a hurdle in the way of enhanced exports due to the problem of competitiveness.