In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai held the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on Climate Change from 30th November to 12th December 2023. The conference ended with new agreements and hopes to curb the issue of climate change. Pakistan, like all other nations, participated in COP 28 to negotiate climate policies and share its climate control actions. But the most important task on the table for Pakistan is to build a strong narrative of how it is adversely affected by climate change and the support it requires from the international community to adapt to the changes in climate.

The agreements at COP 28 left many analysts disappointed but the presidency managed to get countries to agree on the official agenda.  

The highlight of COP 28 was considered to be the consensus over the “transition away from fossil fuels”.  COP 28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber called it the biggest achievement so far in climate negotiations in bringing the word “fossil fuels” to the UN climate change agreement. While many countries were not happy with the term, they wanted the term “phase-out fossil fuels” to be included in the draft.  The next important agreement that was agreed on COP28 was the “loss and damage fund” (L&D Fund). The developing countries have been demanding financial support from the developed to recover from the damages done by climate change. Although it was the first thing agreed upon at COP 28, many countries believe that it is still not a significant amount. COP 28 made more efforts to address the problem faced by countries that are most vulnerable to climate change issues.

COP 28 addressed the “adaptation fund” that was created in 2001. The purpose of this adaptation fund was to allow developing countries to receive funding without having to go through financial intermediaries. COP 28 highlighted the matter and hence the fund received $1.3 billion from around 26 countries. Likewise, there were contributions made to other funds as well. The “Least Developed Countries Fund” (LDCF) received $2 billion to support the poorest countries around the world to adapt to climate change. Funding was further provided by the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and Green Climate Fund (GCF). COP 28 also contributed to building climate resilience.

COP 28 released the “Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery, and Peace,” on the very first day of the conference. This declaration aimed to build climate resilience, especially for those countries that are also affected by conflict or facing humanitarian crises. However, the declaration did not receive much attention. COP 28 not only gained attention but criticism too.

COP 28 ended with little success and criticism. After two weeks of negotiations, the final agreement was reached but according to the critics, it did not go as far as the need of the hour.

The Conference of the Parties holds special significance for the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. These countries are required to advocate rigorously to cut down greenhouse gas emissions. Developing countries need to require funds to recover and adapt to the changes caused by climate. The role of Pakistan is debatable in COP 28. Despite being among the most vulnerable countries to climate change, it lacks the strong voice to highlight such a crave issue around the globe.

The policy urgency for Pakistan is to actively participate in adapting to the issue of climate change.  Earlier at COP 27, Pakistan lobbied vociferously for funds to meet the damages done by climate change. The Loss and Damage Fund was agreed at COP 27 under the leadership of Pakistan within the G77. The operationalizing of the L&D Fund was initiated at COP 28. Pakistan was presented by the caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, who referred to climate change as a national security issue for Pakistan. Therefore, the agenda at COP was to present Pakistan’s commitments to fight climate change.

In addressing the conference, Kakar announced the “Recharge Pakistan” project. It is a seven-year-long project with a $77.8 million investment to use nature to enhance climate change adaptation in the country. The major issue for Pakistan in terms of climate change is not to cut down the emissions but to adapt to the changes caused by it. This project will therefore help to build more resilience and adaptability towards climate change.

The focus of COP 28 agreements was to assist the poor and vulnerable countries around the globe. The L&D Fund, LDC Fund, Adaptation Fund, SCC Fund, and GC Fund aimed to provide financial assistance to the countries.

Pakistan can avail of all these Funds, but it needs to have a strong voice in the international community to address its concerns regarding climate change. Pakistan is required to show its willingness to collaborate with international institutes. Also, it needs to articulate a clear action plan to curb the issues of climate change. Hence, Pakistan needs to present itself as a proactive and responsible participant in fighting against climate change to potentially increase its chances of securing funds and support.

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