Rich countries' green dumping' on poorer, vulnerable countries: Adil Najam

Rich countries' green dumping' on poorer, vulnerable countries: Adil Najam
As the poor continue to pay the price of climate action, rich, developed countries demanding action and change in climate policies by using stick on the developing countries will only result in displacing carbon emissions instead of advancing climate action.

This was stated by Dr Adil Najam, President of WWF-International and Dean Emeritus, Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, while speaking at a seminar with Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Executive Director Dr Abid Suleri on Thursday.

During the session, Dr Najam said there is no single solution to resolving the global climate change crisis. He said that each institution and sector, including government, civil society, private sector, developing and developed countries, have different roles at the country level.

Green dumping

Dr Najam said that there is currently a culture of 'green dumping' of policies in developing countries. The impact that this is having, he said, is to divert unnecessary pressure rather than building pressure on the developed countries to take action for climate change mitigation.

He said the biggest example of this is the fundamental inequity in climate finance.

As climate disasters increase in intensity and frequency, he said, the will to take committed action is declining. He said that the best approach for loss and damage is not to transform it into a fiscal tool but rather to use it as a political tool.

Instead of developing new institutions to administer finances for loss and damage, Dr Najam suggested that existing global financial institutions should be utilized to regulate it as they have the necessary mechanisms in place already.
"Should climate financing only be climate penalty, or should it be financing to support the development agenda"

Governance inadequacies cannot be addressed by developing new institutions, he said. Instead, it should focus on building institutional capacity and reforming them to address the contemporary challenges.

The WWF president stressed developing real value in climate adaptation by articulating policies that bridge the climate gap with sustainable development.

In this regard, he stressed correcting the discourse on resilience and that it should not be considered as the ability to redevelop after a disaster. Rather, it should be seen as the ability to reduce losses.

On carbon emissions, he stressed the need to utilize the Indus to raise awareness about the impact of climate change in Pakistan.

The Indus River, which has sustained civilizations for centuries, is now threatened by our actions, and he said there is a tangible consequence of human decisions and choices.

Look inwards

With sustainability key to managing climate impacts and developing resilience, Dr Najam believed that rather than adapting a Western model, perhaps Pakistan can draw on centuries-old sustainable practices.

He said societies such as Pakistan have a built-in rationality for the circular economy. Instead of bringing in Western or foreign circular economy practices, he urged building on the traditional practices which have been forgone in recent years.

Greenwashing and climate financing

Dr Najam said there is a belief that climate is an either/or issue rather than a collective one. Hence, shifting the responsibility of action and finding solutions for others will only do more damage than good.

He further said that greenwashing comes inevitably with the magnitude of the issue, and as pressure for climate action mounts, connecting everything with climate action and financing will not advance the agenda any further.

Dr Najam emphasized transforming the practices and business of the private sector to align with green practices and a green economy rather than falling into the trap of financing corporate social responsibility to consolidate action on climate.

"Should climate financing only be climate penalty, or should it be financing to support the development agenda," he asked.

Dr Suleri said that while many species of flora and fauna face the threat of extinction, the species of homo-sapiens is faced with the dual problem of extinction from climate change as well as poverty and food insecurity.

He added that choosing between sustainable development and collective climate action is not possible and must occur in unison.