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Financing a sustainable future

Pakistan’s high vulnerability to climate change is known to all. This time Verisk Maplecroft, a global risk and strategic consulting firm based in the UK, has listed Pakistan 22nd in its latest Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2016 (CCVI), ranking the country as ‘Extreme Risk’.

At the sub-national level, the index ranks Lahore on the 7th position, Faisalabad 22nd and Karachi on the 25th out of the 69 major global cities at risk from climate change.

The CCVI has evaluated the vulnerability of human populations to extreme climate-related events, and changes in major climate parameters over the next 30 years. A quarter of Pakistan’s economic activity is associated with agriculture, which employs 44 percent of the total workforce. This heavy reliance on the agricultural sector leaves the country highly sensitive to climate change impacts, in terms of increased climate variability and long-term climate change.

Climate models by the CCVI suggest increased variability in the monsoon, which will affect the timing and quantity of rainfall. As a result, the intensity and frequency of droughts is likely to increase, exerting further pressure on agricultural systems and affecting yields of key crops such as wheat and rice.

Last year in 2015, over 1,200 lives were lost due to the heatwave in Karachi, Peshawar’s mini-cyclone that killed 44 people and major floods across the country that killed 233 and affected more than 1.5 million people. Furthermore, the coastal areas of Sindh, mainly Keti Bunder and Kharo Chan, are also experiencing increased vulnerability to climate change. The sea level is rising at 1.1 mm annually and temperatures are increasing annually at 0.12 degrees Celsius. Thousands of hectares have been lost by sea intrusion, forcing coastal communities to relocate every few years.

Funds for climate adaptation are needed to protect Pakistan’s vulnerable population from climate change. In the north, particularly Gilgit-Baltistan, climate change and global warming are responsible for increased glacial melt, leading to glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) and flash floods. Even mountain communities experience cloud bursts as monsoon patterns shift towards north. This is not only devastating lives and livelihoods, but also triggering climate – induced migration in the region.

April 2016 was the hottest April on record, according to NASA, paving the way for 2016 to be the hottest year on record.

All these factors mean we need to work more on the adaptation side, since our greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are less than one percent in the global trajectory. While considering the devastation caused by climate change, it is imperative to either allocate enough resources or seek funding from donor organisations investing in climate-related projects and programmes.

The Adaptation Fund, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) are some of the major funding bodies on climate change that help Pakistan to reduce its vulnerability to climate change.

Among these, the GCF holds immense importance. It is a unique global initiative to respond to climate change by investing in low carbon and climate resilient development. Established by 194 governments it aims to limit or reduce their emissions, especially for developing countries, and to make funds available to those communities and sectors that are vulnerable to climate change.

An important milestone was achieved at the Paris Climate Conference, where it was confirmed that climate finance up to $100 billion per year would be allocated for developing countries through the GCF by 2020.

The GCF’s role is significant to shape the post-Paris climate change implementation agenda. However, the decision to establish a global fund to support climate-compatible development and address climate change was taken on the eve of the Copenhagen Agreement in 2009 (COP15), which mentioned the ‘Copenhagen Green Climate Fund’. The GCF was formally established during the 2010 UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, within the UNFCCC framework.

The GCF is an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which aims to support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in the developing countries using theme-based funding opportunities. The GCF board has 24 members, comprising an equal number of members from developing and developed countries.

Given the urgency and seriousness of the challenge, GCF is mandated to make ambitious contribution to the united global response to climate change. It can definitely help Pakistan build resilience to the issue.

Climate finance channelled by national, regional and international entities for climate change mitigation as well as adaptation projects and programmes can enable the transition towards low carbon and climate-resilient growth, development through capacity building, R&D and economic progress.

Pakistan needs to be ‘ready’ to use climate finance in a transformative way that will lead towards a low-carbon and climate resilient world.

The GCF keeps a balance between climate change mitigation and adaptation over time. For mitigation, it focuses on low-emission energy and electricity, low-emission modes of transport, buildings, cities, industries and appliances, energy intensity, and land use and forests. For adaptation it focuses on livelihoods, communities and regions, health and well-being of people, food and water security, infrastructure and built environment, and ecosystems and related services.

While focusing to maximise engagement with the private sector, GCF funding is available to all developing countries that are signatory to the UNFCCC. The funds can be accessed through national, regional and international implementing entities approved by the board.

Accreditation will be available for those that can meet the GCF’s basic financial standards. The countries are to designate a National Designated Authority (NDA) as the primary liaison with the GCF. The NDA has the authority and overview of national priorities, strategies and budget.

Entities can apply for accreditation via the direct access track, where they are required to be nominated by their country’s NDA. They may be eligible to receive readiness and preparatory support on accreditation. Furthermore, they can also apply through the international access track, meant for UN agencies, multilateral development banks, international financial institutions and regional institutions. GCF accreditation can help access funding to undertake climate change programmes.

A two-pronged approach has been adopted, which will lower the barriers for national entities to access GCF funding directly by allowing them to apply for accreditation. At the moment, the GCF board has committed up to $30 million to help prepare developing countries to effectively engage with the fund, capped at $1 million per country.

In Pakistan, seven GCF-accredited international organisations exist, including the UNDP, ADB, KfW Development Bank, Acumen Fund, Agence Francaise de Development, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank. At the moment, there’s no national organisation accredited by the GCF.

Secretary Ministry of Climate Change Syed Abu Ahmed Akif has been nominated as the focal person for gaining access to GCF. Furthermore, a Climate Finance Unit (CFU) at the Ministry of Climate Change is working as the GCF Secretariat in Pakistan.

Pakistan needs to take strong ownership for a paradigm shift to occur. And the GCF can definitely create the necessary conditions, by providing funding for climate adaptation, mitigation programmes and support in terms of capacity building and knowledge sharing. What is urgently needed is the commitment to save Pakistan from the ills of climate change.

The writer is a freelance contributor. Email: s.m.abubakar@hotmail.com Twitter: @SyedMAbubakar

Syed Muhammad Abubakar, "Financing a sustainable future," The News. 2016-06-19.
Keywords: Environmental sciences , Environmental issues , Climate change , Global warming , United Nations , Environment , Pollution , Syed Abu Ahmed Akif , Pakistan , Faisalabad , CCVI , GEF , GCF

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