This November, the world met again in Marrakech in Morocco to do something about global warming at the annual UN Climate Change Conference. Last year a global agreement to curb climate change was reached in Paris at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). A total of 196 countries approved the Paris Agreement, whose goal is to limit global average temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.
Each country submitted their individual Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) documents to the UNFCCC, which were basically voluntary plans to reduce their green house gases. However, experts say that if you add up all the NDCs, they are not enough to reach the goal of the Paris Agreement. Even with full implementation, there will be an estimated global average temperature increase of between 2.6°C and 3.1°C by 2100.
On November 4th 2016, just before the Marrakech conference (or COP22) began, the Paris Agreement became a legally binding agreement since over 55% of the signatories to the agreement had ratified it. Today, 111 countries including big emitters like China and the US (the world’s largest economies) have ratified the agreement. Before the Marrakech Conference commenced (from November 7th -18th), the Government of Pakistan also ratified the Paris Agreement and submitted their newly revised NDCs report.
In this regard Heinrich Boell Stiftung (hbs) Pakistan organised an interactive session with journalists on COP22 as part of their project titled “Journalists on Climate Change and Resource Equity”. The briefing was held on 26th November at the hbs office. The idea behind the briefing was to update local journalists on the proceedings of COP22 in order to raise awareness about Pakistan's international commitments and obligations. A panel of experts and participants of COP22 shared their analyses of the proceedings and the commitments made by the world leaders and around 12 journalist from the print and electronic media based in Islamabad attended the briefing. Environmental journalist, Rina Saeed Khan who attended COP22 as a reporter for DAWN spoke about the significance of COP22 and why it was an important meeting after the Paris Agreement. She gave a brief history of the COPs leading up to Paris and Marrakech and pointed out that all the details of the Paris Agreement were to be hammered out in Marrakech but unfortunately the election of Donald Trump cast a shadow on the conference with fears of a US pullout from the Paris Agreement.
Kashmala Kakakhel who works on climate finance and represents civil society in the Climate Action Network South Asia at the COPs spoke about the two sides Pakistan presented at the COP; that of the vulnerable country seeking adaptation money and that of the emerging economic power due to the building of CPEC, which will mean a steep increase in its emissions. She pointed out Pakistan needs to position itself better at these COPs and be better prepared. Aisha Khan from the Mountain and Glacier Protection Organisation, a local NGO, who also attended the COP as part of the Pakistan delegation spoke about the fact that Pakistan had done its homework for this COP as opposed to Paris; its NDC was more detailed this time and the delegation had set up a proper Pakistani pavilion where bilateral and other meetings were held and the delegation could meet regularly. She pointed out that in the future, the delegation would need more technical experts and civil society could help fill in the gaps. Nazima Shaheen, the climate change focal person at Action Aid also spoke about the role of civil society at the COP and the absence of discussion on the water sector. Nadeem Ahmad from LEAD-Pakistan, who is the Team Leader of the Knowledge Hub on Sustainable Development Goals, pointed out the active presence of businesses at the COP and stated that businesses were going forward with their renewable energy investments. In his view, these are an integral part of a low carbon economy and businesses and the Pentagon (since climate change is also a national security issue) would put pressure on Donald Trump to become less of a climate skeptic.
Following articles have been published by journalists from hbs’s network titled “Journalists on Climate Change and Resource Equity”.