sPolluting countries often blamed for a “miserable” climate collapse have broken promises to cut emissions and help developing countries adapt to global warming, according to Pakistan’s climate change minister, who said compensation is long overdue.
More than 1,200 people have died and A third of Pakistan is under flood waters After weeks of unprecedented monsoon rains that swept the country – which was only weeks ago You suffer from severe dehydration.
In an interview with The Guardian, Climate Minister Sherry Rehman said global emissions targets and offsets must be reconsidered, given the accelerating and harsh nature of climate disasters hitting countries like Pakistan.
“Global warming is the existential crisis facing the world and Pakistan is ground zero – yet we have contributed less than 1% to it. [greenhouse gas] emissions. “We all know that pledges made in multilateral fora have not been fulfilled,” said Rahman, 61, a former journalist, senator and diplomat who served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.
“There is a lot of loss and damage with little compensation for countries that have contributed so little to the global carbon footprint, and it is clear that the deal made between the Global North and the Global South has not worked. We need to push hard to reset the targets because climate change is accelerating exponentially. Much faster than expected, on Earth, and that’s very clear.”
The scale of flood damage in Pakistan is unprecedented.
Rahman said an area the size of Colorado has been inundated, with more than 200 bridges and 3,000 miles of communication lines collapsing or damaged. At least 33 million people were affected – a number expected to rise after authorities completed damage surveys next week. In the province of Sindh, which produces half of the country’s food, 90% of the crops have been destroyed. Entire villages and agricultural fields were swept away.
The main reason is the unprecedented heavy rain, with some towns receiving 500 to 700% more rain than usual in August. Vast tracts of land are still under eight to 10 feet of water, making it extremely difficult to drop rations or pitch tents. Rahman said the navy is carrying out rescue missions in usually arid regions where boats have not been seen before.
“The whole area looks like an ocean without a horizon – we’ve never seen anything like this before,” Rahman said. “I am surprised when I hear people say that these are natural disasters. This is too much Anthropocene era: These are man-made disasters.
Much of the flooded countryside has fled in search of food and shelter in neighboring towns poorly equipped for handling, and it is not clear when – or if – they will be able to return. The total number of people stranded in remote areas waiting to be rescued is still unknown.
It will take months for the water to drain, and although it stops briefly in the fall, more heavy rain is expected in mid-September.
Rahman, who was appointed Minister of Climate Change in April, amid a political and economic crisis that witnessed Overthrow of Prime Minister Imran KhanThe government is doing all it can, he said, but rescue and aid missions have been hampered by the constant rains and the sheer scale of needs.
And while she was sympathetic to the global economic challenges caused by the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, she was adamant that “richer countries should do more.”
“Historical grievances must be heard and there must be some level of climate equivalency so that the brunt of irresponsible consumption of carbon is not placed on nations near the equator that are clearly incapable of creating resilient infrastructure on their own,” she said.
There are also growing calls for fossil fuel companies — which are making record profits as a result of the Russian war in Ukraine — to pay for the damage global warming has caused to developing nations.
“Big polluters often try to wash their emissions out of the green environment, but you can’t get away from the fact that big companies with net profits greater than the GDP of many countries need to take responsibility,” Rahman said.
The United Nations’ annual climate talks are being held in Egypt in November, where the Group of 77 developing countries plus China, currently chaired by Pakistan, will press hard on polluters to pay money after a year of devastating droughts, floods, heat waves and wildfires. .
Pakistan is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to global warming, and the current catastrophic flooding comes after four consecutive heat waves with temperatures exceeding 53 degrees Celsius earlier this year.
It has more than 7,200 glaciers – more than anywhere else outside the poles – which are melting much faster and sooner due to rising temperatures, adding water to rivers already swollen by rainfall.
“We will be very clear and unambiguous about what we see as our needs and owed, as well as where we see a series of larger global goals going. But the loss and danger to the South already in the midst of an accelerating climate dystopia should be part of the deal paid in Cop27.”
So far the most polluting countries have been slow to deliver the money they pledged to help developing countries adapt to climate shocks, and even more reluctant to engage in meaningful negotiations over the funding losses and damages incurred by poor countries like Pakistan that have contributed significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. .
Discussions about reparations have been mostly blocked, leaving vulnerable countries like Pakistan “to face the brunt of other people’s reckless consumption of carbon”.
“As you can see, global warming has not decreased – quite the opposite. And there is a lot of adaptation that we can do. Melting glaciers, floods, droughts and wildfires, none of which will stop without very serious promises being made,” Abdul Rahman said.
“We are on the front line and intend to keep loss, damage and climate disaster adaptation at the heart of our arguments and negotiations. There will be no turning away from that.”
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