‘Now or never’: At COP27, PM Shehbaz says Pakistan needs funds, not debts

Published November 8, 2022
PM Shehbaz speaks at the COP27 summit in Egypt on Tuesday. — Photo by PML-N.
PM Shehbaz speaks at the COP27 summit in Egypt on Tuesday. — Photo by PML-N.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said that Pakistan needed additional funding, not debts, to rebuild a resilient and adaptive infrastructure in the face of climate change.

In his national statement at the COP27 climate conference in Egypt, the premier stressed that it was the duty of the global north to understand Pakistan’s plight.

Addressing world leaders, he said that climate change-induced catastrophic flooding in Pakistan had impacted 33 million people — the size of three European countries — with more than half being women and children.

PM Shehbaz highlighted that the floods had destroyed over 8,000 kilometers of highways, damaged more than 3,000 kilometers of railway tracks, and washed away crops over four million acres.

“The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment estimates over $30 billion in loss and damage.”

He said that Pakistan suffered the manmade disaster despite less than one percent contribution to the carbon footprint, adding that amid these disastrous conditions, flood-hit Pakistan had to import wheat, palm oil, and “very expensive” oil and gas spending around $32 billion.

He said the country had also redirected its resources to meet the basic needs of the millions of flood-affected households. “Pakistan is spending billions of dollars from its own resources to provide shelter, homes, medical aid, and food package to millions of people.

“How one can expect us to carry out this gigantic task on our own,” he asked and then thanked the international community for extending support to Pakistan for the relief of the flood survivors.

Highlighting Pakistan’s priorities, the prime minister emphasised prioritising the Global Goal on Adaptation both in terms of financing and timelines. “The current financing gap is too high to sustain any real recovery needs of those on the frontlines of climate catastrophe.”

Secondly, he went on, loss and damage needed to be a part of the core agenda of COP27 to meet the pressing humanitarian needs of those who were trapped in a crisis of public financing fueled by debt and yet had to fund climate disasters on their own.

Thirdly, PM Shehbaz called for clearly defining climate finance as new, additional, and sustained resources with a transparent mechanism to meet the needs of developing and vulnerable countries with the required speed and scale.

“We have been talking for years. But have failed to even agree on the basics. Pledges made at the Copenhagen COP15 in 2009 for mobilizing $100 billion per annum by 2020 have still not been realised. They need to be enhanced given the increased frequency and intensity of climate extreme events,” he underlined.

Moreover, the premier also called for the creation of a Global Climate Risk Index for all parties of the UNFCCC, where projects from the most vulnerable countries could be prioritised and given speedy approvals for climate finance.

Prime Minister Shehbaz said the COP27 summit rang an alarm bell for humanity as it was the only platform where vulnerable countries took their case to the rich and the resourced, to build a common purpose for justice, carbon neutrality and a roadmap to crucial policy resets.

He added that the bargain between the North and the South would not work unless there was a transformational shift in the flow of capacities, finances, and technology that reversed the pyramid of climate capital.

“The COP might have a real chance to find common ground toward achieving the objectives of the Convention and the Paris Agreement,” he stated, stressing that “it is now or never”.

“For us, there is indeed no Planet B,” PM Shehbaz concluded.

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