Pakistan says apocalyptic flooding reinforces the need for reparations

Why poorer countries want rich countries to pay their climate change bill

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt – Pakistan’s foreign minister says the catastrophic floods that submerged a third of the country earlier this year reaffirm the need for rich countries to meet reparations, a highly contentious issue that has the center of the UN’s flagship climate conference. .

Reparations, or “loss and damage” financing, are seen as a fundamental issue of climate justice. The hot topic made history on Sunday at the opening of the COP27 climate summit by being formally adopted on the agenda for the first time.

The decision to include loss and damage financing as an agenda item, which was proposed by Pakistan, was preceded by 48 hours of talks.

Climate envoys meeting in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh will now discuss a deal on a financing mechanism that would allow rich nations to provide loss and damage cash to vulnerable countries.

Pakistan’s Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told CNBC it was a success to see loss and damage financing finally adopted on the COP27 agenda, highlighting the role developing countries played in building consensus about that.

Now he hopes the international community can find a way to collectively address the financing of loss and damage.

“We found out firsthand through the catastrophic and apocalyptic flooding that we experienced earlier this year, and we’re still dealing with the aftermath of that, that … an event of this scale. [does] we don’t have any international financial mechanism available for us to deal with a tragedy of this scale,” Zardari told CNBC on Tuesday.

Watch the full CNBC interview with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

Months of relentless rain in Pakistan submerged large swaths of the South Asian nation, displacing millions as floods washed away homes, transport, crops and livestock. Zardari estimated the total damage at an “astronomical” sum of $30 billion.

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Zardari said Pakistan was “aware” of the difficult economic environment, citing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine, but added that “this has really become an aggravated tragedy” for the country .

The disaster highlights the disparity between those most affected by the consequences of global warming and those who bear the greatest historical responsibility for the climate crisis.

“We cannot deny that the losses and damages do not exist. I mean I had a third of my country under water which will prove otherwise, but I don’t want to present this as some kind of responsibility or compensation,” Zardari said, in reference to the reluctance of rich countries to accept responsibility for loss and damage.

“This will not stop in Pakistan,” he warned. “The next affected country should have something available so they can deal with the loss and damage.”

“A not very constructive agenda”

Rich countries have long opposed the creation of a fund to address loss and damage, and many policymakers fear that accepting responsibility could trigger a wave of demands from countries on the front lines of the climate emergency

US climate envoy John Kerry has previously indicated that the US would not be prepared to compensate countries for the losses and damages they have suffered as a result of the climate emergency.

However, in an apparent softening of that stance, Kerry has since said that Washington would not “obstruct” talks on loss and damage at COP27.

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US climate envoy John Kerry said Washington would not “obstruct” talks on loss and damage in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

“Loss and damage is important, but it’s not a very constructive agenda,” Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and one of the scientists, told CNBC in Sharm el-Sheikh of the Earth most influential in the world.

“You run the risk of causing a deep divide between North and South and it may bring these negotiations to a halt when what the world needs most is to move away from dangerous climate change,” Rockstrom said. “And now we are on a path that leads us unequivocally to disaster.”

A flurry of major UN reports released in recent weeks offered a bleak assessment of how close the planet is to irreversible climate breakdown, warning that there is “no credible path” to limiting global warming to the temperature threshold critical of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“We know the task at hand,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy at the Climate Action Network, which includes more than 1,500 civil society groups.

“We should also understand the responsibility we have here as part of these UN negotiations because what we do or don’t do has an impact on people who are already suffering. We are talking about the reality outside these walls of the conference,” Singh said. CNBC.

Asked if there was a danger that the push for loss and damage funding could see the COP27 talks break down, Singh replied: “What I say to that is that loss and damage is not they’ve been on the table for the last 30 years and look what’s happened.”

“The loss and damage is a report of the inaction of the last 30 years. And the loss and damage tells us that there is now a consequence,” Singh said. “If we had talked about loss and damage in 1992, that if we don’t mitigate, you will have to pay for loss and damage, you would have got it right at the beginning.”

Finance “is the key to making everything happen”

Former UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa, meanwhile, told CNBC that climate finance “is the key to making everything happen.”

“This has been the case for numerous conferences, but now that we are entering an era of implementation, this is the area that will make the difference.”

Pakistan struggles in the wake of historic floods

Espinosa said she was particularly concerned that a $100 billion climate finance pledge by rich nations in 2009 to help low-income nations mitigate and adapt to the climate emergency had not yet been fulfilled. .

“It is at the heart of a certain mistrust that we are seeing, so I come with a lot of concern for this,” said Espinosa.

“There is a very clear need to find the money and I don’t see that. However, what I hope can happen is that we can really start to have a very serious and well-informed conversation about funding loss and damage.” add.


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