Adil Najam on a ‘Planet on Fire’

Adil Najam

Professor Adil Najam of the BU Summer of 2023 and Climate ChangePardee School of Global Studies was interviewed along with other leading experts on climate change in a special report on the sizzling summer heat being experienced all around the world. Titled “Planet on Fire” and published in the Express Tribune (August 2023), the report highlights how heat records are being broken all across the world but “to leading scientists, this comes as no surprise, filled as they are with a sense of betrayal over global inaction.”

Some experts from the report, quoting Prof. Najam:

“The impacts of climate change are already being seen, so this is no longer a future issue. We expected things to be bad with climate change, but in many ways, we are finding that they are happening faster than we had anticipated,” said Dr. Adil Najam, a leading Pakistani academic who now serves as the President of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Climate scientists and experts have very little faith in the political will and commitment to reduce emissions faster. “The world has not addressed this problem seriously,” said Adil Najam, former Dean, and Professor of International Relations and Earth and Environment at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University.

“For those countries or individuals with high emissions, we have to push them to cut their emissions. For those vulnerable, poor communities who haven’t contributed as much but are at the forefront of the impacts of climate change, we have to assist in giving them the ability to adapt,” explained Dr. Najam, who now heads the WWF.

Najam described the challenge today as the ‘Age of Adaptation’ and described how it is the most vulnerable communities and countries that are having to pay the highest costs, despite having contributed least to the problem:

“Adaptation is the failure of mitigation. Adaptation is what you do if you don’t mitigate. However, adaptation is not the opposite of mitigation,” emphasized WWF’s Dr. Adil Najam. “It’s not a choice between adaptation or mitigation; rather, we must undertake both simultaneously. The less we mitigate, the more we’ll be compelled to adapt,” he explained.

Addressing the responsibility of nations and individuals with high emissions, the President of WWF, Dr. Adil Najam, stressed the need to push them to reduce their emissions. He added, “For vulnerable and impoverished communities, who bear the brunt of climate change despite contributing little to the problem, we must provide support to enhance their adaptive capacity.”

When asked if countries like Pakistan can afford to adapt with all its political and financial issues, Dr. Najam said: “My question is not whether we can afford to adapt, can we afford not to adapt?”

“We must acknowledge our consumption habits and behaviors, as they play a role in the overall emissions picture. The path to addressing the climate crisis requires collaboration at multiple levels and a shared sense of responsibility among nations, corporations, and individuals alike,” he concluded.

The full article can be read here.

Adil Najam is Dean Emeritus and Professor at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University and since July 2023 also serves as the President of WWF-International. He served as the Inaugural Dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies from 2014-2022. He is also a former Vice-Chancellor of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). His research focuses on issues of global public policy, especially those related to global climate change, South Asia, Muslim countries, environment and development, and human development. Read more about Najam on his Pardee School faculty profile.