Rich states must compensate nations facing climate crisis: Pakistan
Pakistan's minister of climate change is demanding that rich countries be held accountable for their contributions to climate change and for breaking their promises regarding aid and emission limits.
Developed countries, which are responsible for a huge, disproportionate share of emissions and are predominantly to blame for the ongoing climate crisis, have gone back on their word about reducing emissions and helping their developing counterparts with adapting to global warming, Pakistani Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman told The Guardian.
Rehman's words came in light of more than 1,200 people dying due to monsoon rains and flash floods that brought Pakistan under water, after Islamabad reported weeks earlier that it was suffering from a serious drought.
The Pakistani minister underlined that rich countries were due to pay up for their actions, demanding reparations for their action, as well as that their global emissions targets be met given the horrible conditions in developing countries such as Pakistan.
"Global warming is the existential crisis facing the world and Pakistan is ground zero – yet we have contributed less than 1% to [greenhouse gas] emissions," Rehman explained. "There is so much loss and damage with so little reparations to countries that contributed so little to the world’s carbon footprint."
The monsoon rains caused unprecedented flooding in Pakistan, which collapsed more than 200 bridges, damaged more than 3,000 miles of telecom lines, and affected at least 33 million people. The number of those affected is expected to increase, as authorities are yet to complete their damage surveys.
While 900 health centers and facilities in the country have been damaged, 180 of them are completely damaged and rendered ineffective, leaving thousands affected with no healthcare.
The Sindh district had 90% of its crops ruined due to the monsoon rains that swept through the country.
Many Pakistanis have fled their rural areas in search of food or shelter in nearby cities as several towns have been flooded with 500-700% more rainfall than normal in August, plunging large stretches of land under 10 feet of water.
Rehman stressed that her government will do everything possible to rescue and aid the Pakistani people, though their efforts have been impeded by rainfall and the vast number of people affected.
"Richer countries must do more", she stressed.
Fossil fuel corporations are also being called on to pay for the damages they are causing to the climate in a proportionate manner, especially in light of the amounts of money they have been making throughout the Ukraine war.
"Big polluters often try to greenwash their emissions, but you can't walk away from the reality that big corporations that have net profits bigger than the GDP of many countries need to take responsibility," Rehman underlined, reiterating what UN Chief Antonio Guterres previously said.
Guterres said in mid-June that corporations in the fossil fuel sector and the banks that provide them with financing have "humanity by the throat," heavily chastizing the extensively lucrative industry over its recent price hikes in light of the Ukraine war.
"We seem trapped in a world where fossil fuel producers and financiers have humanity by the throat. For decades, the fossil fuel industry has invested heavily in pseudoscience and public relations – with a false narrative to minimize their responsibility for climate change and undermine ambitious climate policies," he said in reference to the greenwashing campaigns launched by the biggest oil corporations in a bid to seem more eco friendly while contributing to economic collapse.
Pakistan is especially vulnerable to the ongoing climate crisis, as it was hit with heatwaves as high as 53C. Additionally, the country has more than 7,200 glaciers, more than anywhere outside the North and South poles. They are melting at record speeds and adding water to the rivers that are already rising due to the unprecedented rainfall.
Top UN chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the classification of the situation in the country as a grade 3 emergency, which is the highest level of emergency in the UN book - especially as risks of disease outbreaks skyrocket.
According to the World Health Organization, a minimum of 1,000 have been killed and 1,500 injured. In addition, more than 161,000 are currently living in camps.