ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN: The Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) Pakistan in collaboration with HSF Brussels and the Senate of Pakistan organized a virtual delegation trip for Senators to the European Union (EU) on sustainable development including climate change on 27 and 29 January 2021.
The second day of the virtual delegation trip included bilateral interactions between the Senate delegation and the Directorate-General for Climate Action at the European Commission.
The Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, Senator Sitara Ayaz, represented Pakistan’s side and briefed the participants about the initiatives of the Government of Pakistan to address challenges of climate change and ensure sustainability. She said:
Pakistan has recently approved the Alternative and Renewable Energy Policy which aims to increase the share of renewable sources of energy from 5% to 30% by the year 2030. We have also approved the National Electric Vehicles Policy and the world’s first zero-emission public transport system is going to be built in Karachi. Unless we take the climate challenge seriously, we cannot ensure a safe and secure future for our coming generations.
Ms. Elina Bardram, Acting Director, International and Mainstreaming and Policy Coordination, Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA), European Commission stressed on the importance of global cooperation to overcome the climate challenge. She said:
Since the achievement of the Paris Climate Agreement, we have been able to sustain the momentum but much more needs to be done in terms of climate action if we are to hold the global temperature according to the targets set in 2015.
Ms. Bardram also highlighted the salient features of EU’s green growth model and possible avenues of cooperation with Pakistan especially when it comes to renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change adaptation. She said:
Pakistan and the EU’s visions are very much aligned on environmental policies such as electric vehicles, sustainable supply chain management and agriculture, and both sides need to cooperate to stay on path to a net zero economy.
Senator Naseebullah Bazai remarked that the Ten Billion Trees Tsunami Program by the Government of Pakistan had transformed the land uses in affected areas and had captured the public interest at home and abroad. He also hoped that such bilateral engagements between European and Pakistani stakeholders are continued in the future as well.
Dr. Steffen Kudella, the Resident Representative of HSF Pakistan and moderator of the event, highlighted the importance of climate action and solving global challenges by global collaboration:
For Pakistan with a population of over 212 million people, a single river system, water shortage, and an agricultural economy, climate change is a national security challenge. According to a recent opinion poll by the UN and Oxford University, almost two thirds of people around the world view climate change as a global emergency. Being a global emergency, climate change needs global dialogue and cooperation as a response. Today’s online event attempts to support this global dialogue.
Earlier, the first day of the virtual delegation trip included an online discussion between the Senate delegation and the European External Action Service (EEAS) on the topic of “Climate change and sustainability - challenges and opportunities in the EU and Pakistan”.
Mr. Dietmar Krissler, Head of Division Afghanistan & Pakistan at EEAS, discussed with the participants about the EU’s environmental policies and cooperation with Pakistan, including conservational initiatives such as the 10 Billion Trees Tsunami Program, the ban on plastic bags, and the overall target of net-zero emissions till 2050.
It was agreed that there are multiple avenues of cooperation between Pakistan and the EU in terms of climate change and sustainability, especially with regard to implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and provisions of the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25). Senator Sitara Ayaz and Dr. Steffen Kudella both also stressed that more regional cooperation in South Asia is the need of the hour to tackle common environmental issues.