Climate poverty

Published March 11, 2024

IN a chilling manifestation of climate change, Pakistan — already reeling from the 2022 floods — has again been beset by extreme weather events since the end of February.

The recent unexpected deluge and snowfall have claimed the lives of at least 45 people, including 27 children, exposing Pakistan’s acute climate vulnerability and lack of preparedness. Not only have these unexpected events resulted in a tragic loss of life, they have also decimated homes, livestock, crops and infrastructure, particularly in KP and Balochistan.

Amid this calamitous backdrop, Amnesty International has highlighted the need to make the Loss and Damage Fund operational for Pakistan. Established at COP27 in 2022, this fund represents hope for climate-vulnerable countries like ours, offering a means to pick up the pieces and rebuild following large-scale devastation.

At COP28 last year, several countries pledged $420m. To date, commitments have amounted to $661m, according to UNDP. It falls short of the billions of dollars of finance needed to adequately capitalise the fund. According to UNEP, the UN’s leading environmental authority, developing countries require an estimated annual financial commitment of between $215bn to $387bn throughout this decade. Even so, it is a start.

Yet, as Amnesty International notes, there are delays in appointing the 26-member board to manage the fund. Its inaugural board meeting, initially scheduled for January, has been postponed, which, in turn, also calls into question a crucial June deadline for the World Bank to confirm its willingness to host the fund under conditions decided at COP28.

These delays threaten to derail the operationalisation of the fund within the 2024 timeline. The situation is unacceptable, given the scale of the crisis at hand and the immediate need for financing to not only rebuild post-catastrophe but also to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure.

Pakistan’s struggle against the forces of nature highlights a global imperative: the need for rapid, decisive action to support those at the forefront of climate change’s impacts. High-income states, particularly those responsible for historical greenhouse gas emissions, must honour their commitments to adequately bankroll the fund.

This is not just a matter of financial assistance but a moral obligation to support nations in dire need, ensuring they have the means to protect their most vulnerable populations and safeguard their futures against the increasing wrath of climate change.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2024

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