Pakistan Deliberately Snubbed at Climate Change Summit 2021

Climate change is not only an environmental challenge, rather it has evolved into a security and developmental challenges over the years for countries across the globe. In the annual report for 2020, Global Climate Risk Index has placed Pakistan in the fifth position on the list of countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. According to the report from 1999 to 2018, Pakistan has experienced 152 extreme weather hazards, faced economic loss worth $3.8 billion, and 9,989 people have died. Based on the statistics recorded by the think tank, the report concluded that Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change is intensifying. The report points out that Pakistan is “recurrently affected by catastrophes [and] continuously rank among the most affected countries both in the long-term index and in the index for the respective year”. Due to the geographical location, Pakistan has become most vulnerable to climate change and hence placed on the long-term index of the report. One of the co-authors of the report David Eckstein registers in the report that “the entire region where Pakistan is located is prone to extreme weather events, in particular, heavy rainfalls e.g. during monsoon season, and flooding’s as a result.”

Regardless of the vulnerable status of Pakistan, the Biden administration did not invite leadership from Islamabad to participate in the climate change summit. Washington invited leaders from Russia, France, India, Indonesia, Germany, China, Italy, Bangladesh Kenya, Mexico, Denmark, Colombia, Congo, Chile, Jamaica, Argentina, Australia, Israel, Canada, Japan, Bhutan, and other countries to participate in the virtual climate change summit. Climate change activists and experts from Pakistan were surprised and annoyed on exclusion from the climate change conference, particularly when the country is not only the most affected one from the ever-intensifying repercussions posed by climate change but also when the key focus area of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government has been to combat this challenge. Prime Minister Imran Khan initiated the “Billion Tree Tsunami,” project as a step towards environmental protection.

According to Michael Kugelman, the U.S. based South Asian affairs expert explained the three conditions for being invited to the summit as “(1) close partner of the US or (2) a major polluter or (3) highly vulnerable to climate change or (4) some combo of 1,2,3. Pakistan certainly qualifies for (3).” The second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide U.S. during the tenure of Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement but Biden kept his election campaign promise and rejoined the agreement as soon as he entered the White House. Prime Minister Imran Khan in a tweet expressed that they “puzzled at the cacophony over Pak not being invited to a climate change conf! My govt’s environment policies are driven solely by our commitment to our future generations of a clean & green Pakistan to mitigate the impact of climate change.” However, countries from the same region as Pakistan such as Bangladesh, Russia, and India have been invited to the summit.

Pakistan’s leadership remains fully committed to addressing the concerns and threats of climate change. The initiatives taken to counter the grave consequences have been accepted and appreciated around the world by organizations such as WWF, World Economic Forum, and many other countries. The present government allocated Rs10 billion for facilitating the climate change programs that include sponsoring nature-based solutions, 10 billion tree projects, and cleaning of rivers. The exclusion of Pakistan from the virtual summit hardly makes sense and has been a source of constant debate as most other Asian countries have been invited. According to a survey held in 2019, 21 out of 30 most polluted cities in the world were in India. Air pollution is so grim in India that it has taken the lives of nearly 2 million people. An analysis published in Nature Climate Change India’s percentage of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose slower in 2016-19 than in 2011-15 but was much above the world average of 0.7%. Union of Concerned Scientists published a report of 20 countries that emitted the most carbon dioxide in 2018, and India was placed third on the list. The irony is despite these reasons and India’s poor performance to meet the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement, the country was invited to the climate change summit.

Washington invited leaders of the Major Economic Forum on Energy and Climate that include 17 countries responsible for 80% of global emissions and GDP. The invitation was also given to the heads of countries that are extremely vulnerable to the aggravating status of climate change and simultaneously their governments are demonstrating strong initiatives to combat climate change. If analyzed from these criteria it can be concluded that Pakistan should have been invited to the summit but was deliberately ignored for different reasons. Kamran Yousaf, a senior Pakistani journalist stated that the elimination of Pakistan from attending the summit was not surprising considering the statements of the former US Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, who remarked that “Pakistan has lost a great deal of importance in the minds of the leadership in Washington.” Many analysts perceived that this was a deliberate humiliation of Pakistan by the new administration in the U.S. and as a move to pressurize Pakistan to cooperate more with Washington in the Afghan Peace Process. This step taken by the leadership in the White House is also a manifestation of they view Pakistan and how it will frame future relations with the country, once the most important strategically. The surprising development has been deciphered by many other analysts also as a move to sideline Pakistan, especially during the time when new alliances in the region are forming that can challenge the superpower status of the United States.

International Assessment Report

Artificial Intelligence vs National Security

Artificial Intelligence, or commonly known as AI, is a briskly emerging field of technology. The rapid growth of AI has substantial implications on national security. The potential international competitors include the USA, China, and Russia. Artificial intelligence is highly used in developing applications to cater to a range of military functions. Artificial intelligence has gained its place in the world of research on the grounds of intelligence collection and analysis, logistics, cyber operations, information operations, command and control, and in a variety of semiautonomous and autonomous vehicles. China is the most leading competitor against the USA in developing AI and aims to capture the worldwide leader in artificial intelligence by 2030. China is primarily focused on using AI to make fast and well-informed decisions along with developing various autonomous military vehicles. Russia is more invested in using AI in the field of robotics. AI can acquaint the world with various challenges along with many advantages militarily. AI is capable of carrying out and facilitating autonomous military and combat operations which can introduce a unique form of influence, unpredictability, vulnerability, and manipulation. AI is also expected to bring social transformations of an extraordinary scale. AI’s capabilities may affect, directly or indirectly, the preconditions for peace, nature of conflicts, and insecurities that are often perceived by people and States.

Global Climate Change:

In a comprehensive report released by the “National Security, Military and Intelligence Panel (NSMIP)” of the Center for Climate and Security, experts warn of High-to-Catastrophic threats to security from plausible climate change trajectories – the avoidance of which will require “quickly reducing and phasing out global greenhouse gas emissions.” A near-term scenario of climate change, in which the world warms 1-2°C/1.8-3.6°F over pre-industrial levels by mid-century, would pose ‘High’ to ‘Very High’ security threats. To alleviate the threats posed by global climate change scenarios, a quick reduction of net-zero global greenhouse gas emissions is required. To avoid future disasters and calamities, resilient and climate-proof infrastructure is needed. A warm climate will encourage wildfires and prolonged summers which will have a direct effect on people’s day-to-day life and economic activities. The developed and rapidly emerging countries are likely to suffer less because of their greater coping capacity in comparison to poorer States. The economic activities of poorer States will likely experience setbacks leading to political disruptions.

Indian Homegrown Covid-19 Vaccination Shots:

A nurse displays a vial of AstraZeneca’s COVISHIELD vaccine, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination campaign, at a medical centre in Mumbai, India, January 16, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

India gave the nod for emergency use of two vaccines, one developed by Oxford University and UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca, and another by Indian company Bharat Biotech. It is the world’s largest vaccination campaigns, as part of efforts by the populous nation to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control starting with two locally-manufactured shots in the 1st phase more than 300 million people will be vaccinated. Doctors, nurses, and old citizens will receive vaccines firstly. Recently on 4th January, Indian authorities sent 16.5 million vaccines to different parts of the country. Over a 35million doses of various Covid-19 vaccines have been administered around the world and the majority of the COVID-19 vaccines have been snapped by the wealthy states so India is totally dependent on its homegrown vaccine. Ministry of Health claims that Vaccine is safe and no-after effects have been recorded, but according to few news channels some people are allergic to the vaccine. Indian doctors are demanding Oxford-AstraZeneca “Covishield” vaccine to be supplied instead of Covaxin. The residents are dependent on Covishield and demanding to complete the Covaxin trail before injecting it. Around 69% of Indians are in no hurry to get vaccinated, they are waiting for the result on those who got the vaccine shots. People are hoping that homegrown vaccine will help to counter COVID-19 and save lives as India has the world’s second-largest known caseload with more than 10.5m coronavirus infections and over 152,000 deaths so far. Covaxin could be the game-changer for India if the results are satisfying.

National Report of Pakistan: For HABITAT III

National Report of Pakistan: For HABITAT III