Team Members: Kashif Majeed Salik, Sadia Ishfaq, Shakeel Ahmed
India and Pakistan have come a long way since independence in their quest for peace, stability and development in the region. Despite occasional hiccups, they have made significant achievements in improving the standard of living in what are also South Asia’s most populous countries. Their progress towards the MDGs is reflective of this. Their gains in development are however threatened by a looming global challenge that may significantly alter the course of development and cooperation in the region in coming decades.
The newly launched Fifth Assessment Report on climate science by Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gives a fifth wakeup call to policy-makers, practitioners and civil society that climate change is an imminent and ominous reality. The IPCC has aised its certainty level to ‘extremely likely’ that global warming is unequivocally caused by human interference. What is more disturbing is that sea-level rise, glacial melt, temperature rise and extreme weather events are only some of the direct consequences of climate change. The indirect effects will be felt on important sectors which will be perpetually stressed by climatic variations. In other words, climate change is expected to impact everything from markets, infrastructure and economy to energy, water, health, food and agriculture.
This means that the demands of rapid economic development, expanding populations and rising consumption will invariably put an added pressure on climate-stressed water, energy and food sectors. This is more specifically so in the light of our existent consumption patterns which are environmentally unsustainable. As in other developing economies, our consumption needs are met through carbon-intensive industries that release high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere. Rising demands for food and water place an additional pressure on energy resources (for example in the production, treatment, transportation and consumption of supplies). With rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, the exponential increase in energy consumption is expected to sprawl as both countries try to meet their development needs. The good news is that pioneers in both public and private sector are searching for innovative yet practical solutions to cut carbon emissions and promote clean, environment-friendly energy resources in India and Pakistan.
Underscoring the importance of this, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Henrich Boll Stiftung (HBS) are organising a bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan this year to forge ways to cooperate and collaborate in critical areas directly impacted by climate change. The dearth of formal cooperation, and immense potential for bilateral collaboration on renewable energy and climate change, creates a need for this. The IPCC’s FAR and the UNFCCC’s 19th Conference of the Parties have set the broader context for the informal discourse. It is hoped that at a time when both the countries are exploring potential for meeting their existing and future energy needs, the forum serves a perfect opportunity in opening avenues of bilateral cooperation for climate-resilient development.
To continue the momentum that was created three years ago in 2010, this third round of Track II Dialogue on Climate Change and Energy will focus on innovating new ways of working which not only spur trust- and peace-building between the two countries but also prepare ground for formal bilateral and regional cooperation and collaboration. The dialogue will be a follow-up on previous dialogues which were held in 2010 and 2012 respectively. It will seek to resolve existing issues and challenges, and promote opportunities for bilateral cooperation in renewable energy and climate change. The specific objectives of the dialogue are:
- To encourage experts from both Pakistan and India to come up with specific, concrete ideas for cooperation in the broader areas of climate change; and
- To build an effective and workable case for formal engagement on climate change through a Track I channel.
The enclosed programme agenda of the one-and-a-half day discussions is designed to:
- Highlight issues, obstacles and challenges faced in renewable energy sector;
- Share best practices and lessons learned which can be simulated at larger scale;
- Explore potential of cutting-edge innovation in increasing resource efficiency across different sectors in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
- Explore effective ways which can spur formal and informal cooperation at bilateral and regional levels on climate change.
It is envisaged that the meeting will provide an informal platform for exchange of ideas, views and best-practices in order to promote a healthy dialogue and to generate innovative yet practical solutions to making development climate-resilient in South Asia