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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Dec 13, 2013

Govts, civil society urged to work together to cope with climate change, energy crises

Experts from Pakistan and India have called for promoting low
carbon energy sources, conservation of biodiversity, enhanced water-use
efficiency and building resilient communities and networks to cope with
the threat of climate change.

They were speaking at a plenary session titled "Indi-Pakistan
Dialogue on Climate Change and Energy", organised by the Sustainable
Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS)
here on Thursday.

The experts were of the view that governments and civil society in
both countries must work together to cope with the escalating pressures
of climate change by turning the challenges into opportunities at policy
level.

Environmentalist Dr Shaukat Hameed Khan while talking about the
energy crises in Pakistan and India suggested that both the countries
need to work together to ensure universal access to sustainable and
affordable energy.

Scientist Ali Tauqeer Sher said that though climate change is a
global issue, policymakers eschew making it a priority on their domestic
agendas. "There is a need to establish a climate change policy group
between decision makers in the two countries to further the issue at
international forums."

While speaking on water, Adil Murtaza said that the water scarcity
that faces both countries today was due to climate change and natural
disasters. “Pakistan and India both suffer from a lack of inter-seasonal
storage of water. We cannot have sustainable, long-term delivery of
water without storage,” he said.

While talking about the Indus Water Treaty, Murtaza said both
countries do not share data with each other, which was essential for
cooperation on water issues.

Dr Tariq Banuri, who teaches city and metropolitan planning at the
University of Utah, USA, said that climate change was much more certain
now than ever. He said that the leadership vacuum at the global level
was causing weak outputs to meet climate threats. “The costs are huge
and we need to work together to tackle the issue now,” he said.

Zeenat Niazi from New Delhi, who has been working on development
alternatives for the past three decades, stressed on the need to explore
alternative energy sources at local level to replicate it in other
parts of the country.

"Gains made twenty years ago are being lost now. We are going back to
the drawing board," said environmental expert, Shafqat Kakakhel.

Kakakhel said that Pakistan and India both must utilise the best
available scientific and local knowledge to prepare the best policy
frameworks. “Cooperation is not a luxury. It has become a necessity,” he
added.

Experts suggested that networks of expatriate South Asians can
provide invaluable support in the form of financing, knowledge sharing
and access to information and technology.

Haranjit Singh from Action Aid India said most countries were now in a
position to backtrack and plan. "Pakistan and India do not need to
compete with one another. They need to work together."

The speakers said that recommendations made at SAARC summits on
climate change pertaining to food security and disaster risk reduction
should be implemented through enhanced cooperation and removal of
impediments.

The SAARC countries should carry out a feasibility study on the
establishment of a green climate fund for South Asia. Arif Allaudin
said, "We cannot stick to the business-as-usual approach."