Pakistan is considering the benefits of various ways of pricing carbon - for example through a tax on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or an emissions cap-and-trade system - which could spur investment and domestic action on climate change.
Some 60 public- and private-sector representatives at a national consultation in Islamabad agreed that carbon pricing is worth exploring as a way to reduce emissions and boost green investment, provided any such plan is compatible with national objectives of economic growth, poverty reduction, increased access to sustainable energy, and other sustainable development objectives.
"Introducing instruments like carbon pricing can greatly help developing countries like Pakistan to develop in a more sustainable and responsible way," said Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan, Pakistan's Minister for Climate Change, at the meeting just before the New Year. "Putting a price on emissions may help in increasing investments in green energy and reducing the carbon footprint."
The Senator highlighted Pakistan's vulnerability to climate change, which makes action on climate change of "key importance." He noted as well his country's low level of GHG emissions, which he said could rise substantially with economic development, and described an alternate vision of prosperity fueled by renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The consultation was organized by the Collaborative Instruments for Ambitious Climate Action (CI-ACA) project and Pakistan's Ministry of Climate Change. The CI-ACA project is run by the UN Climate Change secretariat through its five Regional Collaboration Centres, in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific. It was supported by the governments of Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the province of Québec in Canada through their support to CI-ACA.
Based on the outcomes of the consultation, the Ministry of Climate Change intends to launch an in-depth technical study on a possible carbon pricing instrument for Pakistan, which is aligned with its development objectives and can help Pakistan follow a low-carbon development trajectory.
Delegates agreed that Pakistan could draw on other countries' experiences in planning carbon pricing instruments, stressing the importance of transparency, clear institutional arrangements, awareness-raising, capacity-building, and robust monitoring, reporting and verification systems.
In his message, Senator Khan emphasized the moral imperative of fighting climate and drew on passages from the Muslim Holy Book, the Quran, calling for environmental stewardship.
Muhammad Taimur Ali Khan Gandapur, representing the UN Climate Change secretariat, reiterated the benefits and importance of a carbon pricing instrument "rooted in the national context, driven by national priorities, that takes into account the views of key national stakeholders, from both the public and private sectors."
"We look forward to supporting Pakistan as the country continues on the path to implementation of the Paris Agreement."
Some 42 national and 25 subnational jurisdictions are pricing carbon. The European Union Emissions Trading System, currently the largest carbon market, covers about 1.75 billion tonnes of emissions.