US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome on Saturday said the US-Pakistan Green Alliance Initiative was a critical component of his country’s global contribution towards the goal of addressing climate change.
The US envoy was addressing the Pakistan US Alumni Network’s (PUAN) two-day conference on “The Climate Change Emergency: Pakistan in the 21st Century and the Road to COP-28”, jointly organised by the PUAN and WWF-Pakistan.
The ambassador welcomed the participants of the PUAN national conference and said that such conferences only got successful if the right people were addressing the issue in an important manner.
He informed the participants that there were some 14 chapters of PUAN functional in different countries and all its members were selected due to their innovative skills.
Over 800 nationals were selected due to their commitment to addressing climate change, he added. Ambassador Blome said that it was a complex international issue that required expertise and critical financial solutions.
The PUAN, he said represents a diversity of scientists, students, experts and journalists who were actively engaged in their fields. All 14 PUAN chapters had completed all of their projects aimed at addressing climate change, he added.
He urged the PUAN alumni to support and advance U.S.-Pakistan Green Alliance across Pakistan. “The alliance envisioned the history of U.S. support to Pakistan’s green revolution in 1960 and its hydropower schemes at that time which helped in revolutionising its agriculture sector.”
He mentioned that the US was supporting agriculture innovation, climate-smart agriculture, renewable energy transformation and climate advocacy and others.
The Green Alliance, he added, provided Pakistan with a tremendous opportunity to explore new opportunities in the private sector for augmenting its climate resilience.
He mentioned that the US was supporting Pakistan’s Lahore University of Management Sciences’ (LUMS) initiative of electric vehicles (EVs) production project to help develop Pakistan it’s indigenous production capacity to achieve its ambitious target of converting its 30 per cent vehicles over EVs by 2030.
The ambassador informed that his team had developed many key collaborations between the US and Pakistani universities in multidisciplinary domains. It was also helping in providing start-up grants to support their out-of-the-box solutions and innovations providing solutions to climate-induced disasters.
Earlier, Country Director PUAN, Sahibzada Aamir Khalil in his opening remarks welcomed the guests and the participants at the forum.
Climate Change, he said is no longer a dissenting threat but a reality.He said that the forums like PUAN were striving for a sustainable future for the coming generations as climate change incurred damages to all sectors from food security, and bio-health to biodiversity.
“Let us seize this opportunity to re-imagine our societies with environmental stewardship at its core. Let’s need to work hand in hand for climate change emergency with the commitment it demands,” he said.
Director General of Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF-Pakistan) Hammad Naqi Khan in his keynote address, said the Fund has been continuously advocating that the climate crisis is a national crisis in Pakistan.
Pakistan, he said is at the top of the most vulnerable countries and it was a floodplain area that always experienced floods.
He reiterated the words of the UN Secretary-General saying, “The Monsoon on steroids happened in 2022 as from hill torrents in the north to rainfall of biblical proportion in the south plains left millions of people devastated and livestock killed.”
After that, he said in COP -27, Egypt’s loss and damage fund was pleaded which was around $60 billion to assist the developing countries worst impacted due to climate catastrophes.
“Pakistan is not the last country facing climate stress as it will reach every country. The heatwaves in the US after Pakistan prove the fact. July is the hottest month ever recorded in the history of this planet. Global warming has changed into global boiling after such temperature rise,” he said.
Pakistan is among the few countries having a climate change ministry whereas a climate change unit has to be at the centre of every ministry and department because everybody was suffering from it, he said.
He mentioned that Pakistan had multiple natural disasters from floods to forest fires and droughts to glacial melt, adding, “It’s important to build that capacity to face those challenges”. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) with the help of USAID approved $70 million for the Recharge Pakistan project which would promote nature-based solutions in conserving floodwater and reviving depleting aquifers, he added.
“We need support as climate change needs collective action. The US Educational Foundation and PUAN are the policy and decision makers that should have this vision at the core of their interventions. It is possible only by making efforts together,” Khan said.
Later, the US Ambassador held a brief press talk to apprise the media on PUAN and WWF-Pakistan jointly held a two-day climate change conference.
Ambassador Blome said almost 120 Pakistan-US Alumni Network (PUAN) participants were present at the conference on Climate Change. The alumni network comprised of different people belonging to various backgrounds who were committed to finding solutions to climate change through innovation, creative solutions and technology.
The US-Pakistan Green Alliance was investing millions of dollars in climate-smart agriculture, green energy transition initiatives and various other interventions focusing on climate resilience, he added.
The PUAN is full of dedicated volunteers that are committed to the cause of climate change, he added. Private sector innovation, he said was important and the US Embassy was working with many start-ups, especially the ones working on locally made EVs, and climate-smart agriculture.