Revising the NDC: Setting Realistic Targets and Raising Level of Ambition

Sep 30 2020 | 03:10:09
Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change (CSCCC), in collaboration with the World Bank, held the second webinar in their Impactful Speakers Series. The panel discussion addressed how the process of NDC enhancement is critical to implementation of the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. It also highlighted how countries can move towards carbon and climate resilient development. The panelists included the Special Assistant to the PM on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, Mr. Chandra Shekhar Sinha (Advisor in the Climate Change Group, World Bank), Ms. Sobiah Becker (Climate Change Advisor, FCDO) and Dr. Imran Khalid (Head of Environment and Climate Change Program, SDPI). Introductory remarks were given by the World Bank Country Director for Pakistan, Mr. Najy Benhassine and the moderator for the session was Mr. John Roome (Regional Director South Asia Sustainable Development, World Bank).  In his introductory remarks Mr. Benhassine stressed that NDCs were a key component of the Paris Agreement and reflected countries’ global efforts to reduce global warming. Climate change, he stressed, was an acute issue that impacted development efforts, growth and poverty levels. He emphasized that Pakistan would require the global community’s support in mitigating climate related risks and improving resilience, which would remain a top priority for the World Bank. He spoke about the increase in Pakistan’s growth and carbon emissions and tied that in with the need for a diversified mix of energy and reiterated the World Bank’s desire to help Pakistan in this journey. The moderator, Mr. Roome, mentioned in his opening remarks that the most crucial element of the Paris Agreement would be to return with revised and more ambitious NDCs. Pakistan remained near the top of the list of countries that would be adversely impacted by climate change. The last decade saw more than 100 million people pushed into poverty, along with 10,000 climate related deaths, numerous major climate events and creation of climate hotspots. Even though, technically NDCs are concerned with reducing emissions, he explained that it was extremely and equally important to build adaptation and resilience simultaneously. SAPM Malik Amin Aslam presented a brief snapshot of Pakistan’s future climate pathway, which would have an emphasis on nature-based solutions, increasing resilience, biodiversity protection, ensuring livelihood amongst other political dividends. The two major initiatives he highlighted were the 10 billion tree tsunami and the Protected Areas Initiative. He mentioned the importance of the Electric Vehicle policy that is in its final stages of implementation and would reduce pollution and fuel costs while simultaneously increasing mobility. Overall, he underlined the emphasis placed on renewable energy by Pakistan and assured that by 2025, Pakistan would have 60% clean energy generation. To achieve these targets, he stated, Pakistan was initiating projects for climate smart agriculture as well as channeling wind energy. All these would be incorporated into the revised NDC which would be completed by the end of the year so that Pakistan could participate in Cop 26 at Glasgow with a clear focus and maintain their leadership role on nature-based solutions, biodiversity and climate resilience. Dr. Khalid cited examples of the fires, floods and rapid snow/glacier melts to demonstrate that climate change has arrived and said that even the target of reducing emissions by 1.5 degrees Celsius might not be enough to prevent the consequences. He talked about the concept of common but differentiated responsibility and how it was being used as a right to pollute. A political commitment, he surmised, was necessary to implement NDCs. Furthermore, he emphasized that this was a process that required cooperation between federal and provincial governments and between policy makers and stakeholders. Lastly, he laid emphasis on a holistic approach to climate change, accounting for costs but also remaining human centric. Ms. Sobiah Becker underscored the need to commit to urgent action and ambitious NDCs in order to make 2021 a year for climate. She highlighted that Covid-19 had exposed the vulnerability and fragility of the world and showcased the urgent need to make the planet more resilient. The NDCs would offer tremendous opportunities for all countries to adjust, articulate and align their strategies and make them climate resilient. She explained how making investments in the agriculture, energy and industrial sectors would reap dividends for Pakistan in job creation and protecting the environment. A stronger NDC would solidify Pakistan’s role as a world leader in climate change along with having spillover effects for livelihood and disaster risk reduction. Ms. Becker outlined the two options that Pakistan currently has; Firstly, to increase the technical scope of the NDC by strengthening monitoring, reporting and verification abilities and, secondly, to establish higher reduction emission targets for all sectors. Mr. Chandra Shekhar Sinha contextualized the emerging lessons from countries regarding their NDC revision and enhancement in light of other pressures like the Covid-19 pandemic. He commended the level of commitment Pakistan has shown towards enhancing their NDC and taking a leadership role regarding climate change. Countries do have the scope to scale up their ambition, said Mr. Sinha and underscored the need to implement assertive measures that can help them move towards their climate goals. He further highlighted the importance of transparency in NDCs so that countries could be held accountable and the value of linking NDCs to the planning and implementation process is seen as part of the transparency process. During the Q&A session, the panelists spoke about the importance of role of civil society in ensuring that governments stay on track in adaptation and mitigation projects. It was stressed that it would be helpful for concerned ministries to involve civil society, scientists and academia to present recommendations for NDCs. Regarding climate financing, it was suggested that investments will happen when private sectors would recognize the effects of climate as the bottom line. For that it would be crucial to develop a culture of dialogue and engagement in countries. It was emphasized that public sector resources were insufficient to support climate change agenda and that private sector would have to be involved. This could be facilitated by de-risking investment, and creating legal and contractual clarity. Long term strategic priorities and risk reduction would be absolutely crucial and would require institutional collaboration and coordination.
 Key Takeaways 
There is a need for a more diversified mix of energy and an emphasis on clean energy sources. Pakistan has a relatively small carbon footprint yet an ambitious NDC. This can have a symbolic effect on developed countries and demonstrate Pakistan’s ambition, adding credibility to its NDC.
The NDC should not be an end unto itself or a standalone document; it must be accompanied by dialogue amongst stakeholders demonstrating how it relates to the country’s short and long-term goals.
Pakistan, along with other countries, needs to arrive at Cop 26 in Glasgow with clear focus on nature-based solutions, biodiversity and climate resilience. This is a win-win strategy for Pakistan as it protects valued natural capital, increases livelihood and can deliver great global and domestic benefits.
Raising ambition and revising NDCs is extremely critical to the Paris Agreement. A focus on transparency of NDCs and role of civil society can support developing guidelines and safeguards for communities.
Due to the heterogeneous nature of commitments, there is a need for an evaluation framework to evaluate them in clear and understandable terms.
Countries and climate negotiators can raise accountability in global environment by calling out other countries for reneging on their commitments. However, in order to do so, they must implement local action and raise credibility.
Climate change is not a phenomenon that one person, one leader or one institution can resolve, it will require immense global cooperation.