Madrid/Islamabad, November 30, 2021: Speaking at the 143rd Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference in Madrid, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “Despite clear evidence pointing towards the world’s richest and most powerful countries as the main perpetrators of climate change, no serious international policy or formal diplomatic effort has been made, nor has multilateralism been able to appropriately and proportionally account for the damage high emission polluters have caused to the planet. There has been no meaningful discussion on the role of different countries in triggering climate-related reactions that will impact the world for decades to come. Nor has there been delivery on minimum pledges for building resilience for developing countries. Urging vulnerable, developing countries to adopt renewable energy is a good thing, but expecting them to acquire smart technology with no resources to adapt their national energy grids to green energy, or turn into agri-tech users, when countries that have used fossil fuels to build and grow their economies either look the other way and remain in denial about the costs of resilience. The world has no time for parsing climate colonialism. Climate negotiations need to factor in the needs of low polluters who are paying the costs for decades of fossil-fuel development by rich countries, yet the resources needed for adaptation by countries like Pakistan are not even part of serious commitments made at multilateral forums. Pakistan is highly vulnerable to climate change, and despite being a nation that emits less than 1% of the world’s greenhouse gases, our cities are experiencing a dangerous fifth season in winter due to smog and air pollution. Per capita, we produce 1.06 tonnes of carbon dioxide, whereas the global average is 4.5 tonnes. Pakistan’s contribution to global cumulative carbon dioxide production, as of 2020, was 0.3%. To put that into perspective, India has contributed 3.21% whereas the US and China have contributed 24.56% and 13.89%, respectively. Climate justice frameworks have to be made meaningful by allowing countries with the power and moral obligation to transfer resources to offset the impacts of climate change, not to wilfully deny their own liability and set the bar low for climate justice.”
“A borderless phenomenon such as climate change requires multilateral frameworks and climate diplomacy that shift towards the greening of foreign policies. The IPU serves as a key forum for international cooperation between parliaments, as well as the transfer of knowledge and best practices from different countries. It was a virtual e-Parliament Conference where countries from the Asia-Pacific group shared their national toolkits for sustainable development and adaptation to climate change. Such voluntary instruments for climate action must become an international norm. Regional connectivity and collaboration present opportunities to fuel progress, South Asian countries and the Asia Pacific region need a parliamentary set of goals and challenges that can be discussed quarterly to mark progress on both SDGs and climate adaptation. Long-term pledges of net-zero and transfer of climate funds or even carbon pricing by the Global North, with decade-long time frames must also be benchmarked, as pathways towards greener futures need to be pegged on robust roadmaps and regional short-term goals. This will allow increased collaboration on regional mitigation efforts and assistance with technical challenges which can inform Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as well as strengthen National Determined Contributions (NDCs),” she concluded.