World Wide Views on Climate and Energy
On June 6th, 10,000 citizens representing a cross section of society in 79 countries around the world, met to make their voices heard in the international climate change negotiations leading to Paris, France this December.
In Islamabad, Pakistan, a group of around one hundred citizens attended a daylong meeting to deliberate on some of the most important issues facing the world today: climate and energy.
The “World Wide Views on Climate and Energy” debate in Pakistan was inaugurated by the Minister for Climate Change, Mushaidullah Khan and the founder of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Tariq Banuri. The planetary debate was hosted by COMSATS University and organised jointly by SDPI and the Centre for Climate Research and Development (CCRD) with support from the Embassy of France.
Abid Suleri, the head of SDPI who welcomed the guests and citizens described the debate as “learning from stakeholders and people” in order to strengthen people’s resilience. “We will learn what people think of the climate change and the energy challenges facing Earth and how they can be solved ”. Tariq Banuri gave a brief history of how human beings have destroyed ecosystems on Earth (more than 50% of the world’s forests are gone) and described the crisis that is now endangering the entire planet. The result of climate change is that Pakistan is now facing more cyclones in the Arabian Sea, the number and intensity of floods in Pakistan has increased, there is now Dengue Fever in the country due to rising temperatures and our ice packs in the high mountains are melting. Even our monsoons are becoming erratic so climate change is indeed a very serious issue. Fossil fuels will clearly destroy us so we have to make the switch to renewable energy. “It is the only solution; we need a form of energy that will not destroy the planet”.
The Minister for Climate Change, Mushaidullah Khan, took credit for the PML(N) government launching the Islamabad-Rawalpindi Metro bus service on World Environment Day, pointing out that they are using energy efficient (Euro II) engines in the buses and that public transport will save on fossil fuels. He also pointed out that the National Climate Change Policy is finally going to be implemented and that in the June 5th 2015 budget the Government of Pakistan has announced interest free loans for solar tube wells, zero import duty on solar and wind power generation equipment and 5-years tax holiday and zero sales tax on local manufacture of solar, wind power equipment. He also spoke about the importance of equity in the global climate change negotiations; that rich countries must do more to meet the challenge of climate change. Dr Khalid Riaz from the CCRD thanked everyone for coming and pointed out that "climate change is a shared responsibility".
After the inaugural session that was held from 10 to 12pm, the debates began from 12.30 to 5pm with the citizens (mostly young people to reflect Pakistan’s demographics) being divided into small groups.
The World Wide Views on Climate and Energy turned out to be the largest global citizen consultation held on climate change. Beginning at dawn in Fiji and ending at dusk in Arizona, at least 100 citizens in each location, discussed issues of climate change and voted on an identical set of questions.
The results from this voting were published immediately on http://climateandenergy.wwviews.org/results/, making it possible for everyone to follow live the statements of lay citizens to the challenges confronting policy makers at COP 21 (the Paris conference on climate change) – and to compare the views of citizens in different countries and groupings relevant for these negotiations.
The simultaneous meetings around the world focused on five thematic sessions:
* Importance of tackling climate change
* Tools to tackle climate change
* UN negotiations and national commitments
* Fairness and distribution of efforts
* Making and keeping climate promises
Prior to the meetings, all citizens received an information booklet about pros, cons and views on different climate and energy policies, targets and measures.