Pakistan’s dire floods signal global climate crisis, PM tells UN

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Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif warned Friday that his country’s worst-ever flooding was a sign of climate catastrophes to come around the world, while pushing for justice for developing countries with little responsibility for global warming.

Unprecedented monsoon rains flooded a third of the country – an area the size of the United Kingdom – killing nearly 1,600 people and displacing more than seven million.

“What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan,” he said in an impassioned speech to the United Nations General Assembly, adding that lost homes, decimated livelihoods and flooded cropland had meant life for many “had changed forever”.

Sharif said injustice was inherent in the crisis, with his country of 220 million people at “ground zero” of climate change, but responsible for less than one percent of CO2 emissions.

“Why are my people paying the price of such high global warming through no fault of their own? Nature has unleashed its fury on Pakistan without looking at our ecological footprint, which is next to nothing,” he said.

“It is therefore perfectly reasonable to expect some approach to justice for this loss and damage,” he continued, adding his voice to developing countries’ growing calls for financial compensation from wealthy polluters.

Families seek refuge in a camp after leaving their flood-stricken homes, in Jaffarabad, a district of Baluchistan province, Pakistan, Wednesday, September 21, 2022. © Zahid Hussain, AP

Climate compensation

The issue of payments for “loss and damage” is highly contentious.

Proponents argue that historic polluters have a moral obligation to pay for the loss and damage already caused by the multiplication of extreme weather events that have not been prevented by measures to reduce or modify global warming.

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The idea has so far been shot down by rich countries, but UN chief Antonio Guterres approved the proposal a few days ago and it will be discussed at the next UN climate summit in Egypt.

>>> Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: ‘The scale of the climate catastrophe in Pakistan is truly apocalyptic’

Pakistan has estimated total financial losses at $30 billion, and on Friday Finance Minister Miftah Ismail tweeted that the province was seeking debt relief from bilateral creditors.

Sharif turned his attention to neighboring Afghanistan and urged the international community to heed a UN appeal for $4.2 billion in humanitarian and economic aid and to release the country’s financial reserves, that had been frozen since the Taliban took power last year.

“Pakistan is working to encourage respect for Afghan girls and women’s rights to education and work. But at this point, isolating the Afghan interim government could exacerbate the suffering of the Afghan people, who are already in need,” he said. he.

The United States recently set up an external fund to manage Afghanistan’s frozen assets because it did not trust the Taliban.

In Kashmir, the region of the Himalayas disputed between Pakistan and India since the two countries’ independence from Britain, Sharif accused New Delhi of introducing “illegal demographic changes” by opening the Muslim-majority region to mass migration by Hindu Indians.

He called on India to “walk the path of peace and dialogue by reversing the illegal steps of August 15, 2019”, when New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy.

(AFP)

Merry

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