Over 100 young cyclists, 60 percent of them women, took to the streets of Islamabad. Dressed in green attire they were campaigning that “There is no planet B” and requesting policy makers in Pakistan and around the world that it is policies that need to be changed, and not the climate. The cycling route led from the office of hbs in a left turn from in front of the Parliament along Jinnah Avenue towards the F-8 roundabout - and return.
The event was placed in the framework of global civil society activism and campaigns in the run up to the Conference of Parties, COP21 to take place in Paris in early December, 2015, an event which will come up with a new internationally brokered deal on how to curtail carbon/ green house gas emissions causing dangerous climate impacts and changes to the land, atmosphere and oceans in all regions of the globe.
In her opening remarks Marion R. Mueller, Country Director hbs called for especially the youth of Pakistan to raise their voice in support for the environment and claim from political leaders to consider just climate solutions. She highlighted that Pakistan is among the most vulnerable countries on impacts of climate change. Climate Justice likewise needs commitments of the world’s political leadership to ensure that those who contributed most to the climate crisis also will have to do most to solve it and that those hardest hit by climate change will be protected. Sharing the pretext for organizing the event Mome Saleem, hbs Program Coordinator Resource Equity, Energy Innovation and Climate Change mentioned that at a global level civil society needs to be united to push the climate agenda at the global level. Shakeel Ramay of SDPI and founding member of the Pakistan Youth Climate Network highlighted that it is especially the youth of Pakistan that needs to ensure that their generation and future generations are able to live in a clean and safe environment. A comment also highlighted by chief guest, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal. Mr. Iqbal said that Pakistan’s youth needs to be the change agent and likewise support the implementation of environment and climate resilient policies. Mr. Asad Umer, Member of the National Assembly stated that any serious discussion about Climate Justice requires a fundamental social and ecological transformation. He highlighted that the government of Pakistan is investing in renewable energy projects, be it hydro power, solar energy or establishing a wind energy sector. Ms. Marvi Memon, chair of the Benazir Bhutto Income Support Program shared that it is important to also include the traditional knowledge of communities to ensure that adaptation measures are implemented in a sustainable way. She invited the youth present at the event to engage more with rural communities. Points raised by political leadership were met by applause from participants of the event.
It now has to be seen if the political will shown by representatives of the government of Pakistan will be transformed into a lasting dialogue with the citizens of the country and if it will finally be translated into practical steps of implementation. The nomination of a new Minister for Climate Change just a few days ahead of the important negotiation to take place in Paris is to be welcomed as a serious and positive step. Hope remains that the officially submitted Intended National Contribution INDC drafted by the Government of Pakistan as a background paper for the negotiations would be made available for revision and for inclusion of the demands by civil society actors issued today.
The organizers of today’s event encourage and invite all participants of civil society and the government to stay engaged in a dialog under the framework of the campaign “There is no planet B. Let’s change or policies. Not the climate”