“Difficult” for Pakistan to see India’s influence in Climate Change talks: Anne Patterson (Wikileaks)

Pakistan felt it was unfair to give India a higher status than itself at Climate Change negotiations despite having less to lose from it, according to US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson.

Writing from Islamabad shortly after the Copenhagen round of Climate Change negotiations petered out, Patterson noted that the mood in Islamabad was particularly gloomy.

On the one hand, Pakistan’s own existence was being threatened by Climate change while on the other, its obsession India was hogging the lime-light.

Patterson pointed out that nearly 70% of Pakistan’s agriculture depends on water produced in the summer by melting glaciers in the Himalayas. Pakistan gets less than half the average annual rainfall that India gets, putting it into the category of a ‘water stressed’ region.

Most of Pakistan’s agriculture is fed by the Indus river, which in turn is fed by Himalayan Glaciers. As the Earth warms up, the Glaciers dissappear, leaving the Indus with less and less water every year.

India, by contrast, depends on Himalayan glacial melt to meet onlly 15% of its irrigation (in the form of Ganga, Yamuna etc..)

“We are not sinking, like the Maldives,” said Arshad Khan, Director of the Government’s Global Change Impact Studies Center (GCISC), “but our glaciers are melting and the shore is disappearing; these two factors will ruin us in time,” Patterson reported in February last year.

To rub salt into Pakistan’s wound, the delegation felt ignored as it was not part of any big groups, while India was part of perhaps the most powerful climate change negotiation group, the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India & China).

“It was particularly difficult for the members of the Pakistani Copenhagen delegation to see India’s tremendous influence during the negotiations.

“While both nations depend on monsoon rains for a percentage of their crop irrigation, Pakistan is far more reliant upon seasonal glacial melt to keep its agricultural heartland active…

“As the Pakistanis see it, India’s status as one of the world’s highest emitters of greenhouse gases garnered it a place within the highly influential BASIC negotiating bloc, giving the Indians a voice at Copenhagen that Pakistan lacked, while Pakistan’s relatively low level of emissions meant that it was further disenfranchised,” Patterson pointed out.

“This is not an accord,” Patterson quoted Momin Agha, Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Environment as saying. “To use the word ‘accord’ means that there was some agreement and in Copenhagen all we saw was a locked room and a handful of countries permitted inside.”

Agha was referring to the final negotiations which was carried out in a separate room by a handful of countries such as the BASIC group, US etc..

The Copenhagen meeting failed to achieve any of the key aims of getting large industrial countries to promise further cuts or even secure an extension to the existing Kyoto Protocol.


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