By Sulaiman Rehman
- COP28, the upcoming global climate summit, is an urgent and pivotal event where leaders must forge agreements to combat climate change and address the responsibility for environmental damage.
- Pakistan faces substantial challenges in transitioning to clean energy, including complex approval processes and financing hurdles. However, the establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) by Pakistan’s Army offers hope for attracting international investment.
- To prepare for COP28 and drive climate action, Pakistan should focus on appointing a dedicated climate finance envoy, streamlining access to climate finance through SIFC, mandating green development units in banks, and promoting industry-wide climate finance initiatives. Active participation in regional sustainability forums is also crucial to secure funding commitments.
As the relentless march of time carries us ever closer to COP28, the world teeters on the brink, with fewer than 80 days remaining until the momentous climate summit kicks off in the United Arab Emirates on November 20th. For those uninitiated, COP28 is the stage where global leaders unite to confront the spiraling climate crisis head-on. Their charge: to forge agreements capable of thwarting the juggernaut of global warming and navigating the treacherous waters of climate adaptation. All this while grappling with the weighty question of accountability for the harm already inflicted upon our planet.
The COP28 Presidency has meticulously charted a course marked by four pillars: hastening a just, systematic, and fair transition to clean energy; rectifying the disarray in climate finance; giving precedence to the well-being of individuals, their lives, and livelihoods; and firmly anchoring all endeavors in a spirit of comprehensive inclusivity.
If ever there existed a set of principles custom-tailored for Pakistan, it is these. Our odyssey toward a cleaner future, deeply entwined with the realm of clean energy, confronts us with formidable obstacles. Even at the grassroots level, the endeavor to secure approvals and financing for this transition resembles an intricate dance, replete with convolutions involving lenders and regulators. Amplify this complexity to the national and international arena, and it becomes evident why investment often seeks more straightforward avenues.
Nonetheless, a glimmer of hope illuminates the horizon, cast by the actions of Pakistan’s Army, most notably, the establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC). This council’s mission: to dismantle the barriers obstructing international investment. Their stringent crackdown on currency speculations and smuggling has cultivated an environment ripe for sustained investment and rapid growth. This, undoubtedly, is a prerequisite for a sustainable future and sends a resounding message that the old status quo is no longer acceptable.
As we continue to battle the relentless forces of climate change, every minor skirmish assumes paramount significance. With COP28 hurtling toward us, Pakistan stands at a crossroads, with the urgent need to institute a national climate finance strategy built upon the following pillars:
- Selecting the Right Messenger: Pakistan must appoint a dedicated climate finance envoy, working in tandem with SIFC. This envoy should embody an intimate understanding of Pakistan’s energy transition triumphs and resilience, ensuring that the nation capitalizes to the fullest extent on its climate finance potential.
- Streamlining Access to Climate Finance: The establishment of a singular gateway through SIFC, accessible to all stakeholders, is imperative for facilitating access to climate finance. This involves mobilizing capital directly for the private sector, making it an integral component of SIFC’s mission.
- Mandating Green Development Units in Banks: Banks must be compelled to establish green development units aligned with the objectives of SIFC, extending their focus beyond industry giants and major clients to encompass agriculture and underserved populations. In our pursuit of sustainability, no one should be left behind.
- Promoting Industry-Wide Climate Finance Initiatives: Accelerating the development of industry-wide climate finance initiatives is not only conducive to strengthening exports but also serves to lower energy costs and emissions.
The countdown to COP28 necessitates not just preparations for the summit itself but also robust participation in regional climate and sustainability forums, such as those in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These gatherings serve as stepping stones where the commitment of billions in funding will define the trajectory of global climate action. It is imperative that we pivot from rhetoric to action. Failure to decisively act at COP28 may relegate us to a photo album of missed opportunities, while our planet’s future hangs in the balance.