Floods in Pakistan underscore debate over who pays for climate damage

Floods in Pakistan underscore debate over who pays for climate damage
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Since mid-June, torrential rain has changed Pakistan’s landscape, flooding villages and fields, destroying homes and killing at least 1,000 people. But if the human damage is catastrophic, the financial damage is almost unthinkable: the damage so far will likely exceed, according to Pakistan’s finance minister. 10 billion dollarsor as large as 4 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product.

“Pakistan was already facing the disastrous effects of climate change,” said Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s climate change minister. aforementioned At a press conference on Thursday. “Now the most devastating monsoons of the decade are causing uninterrupted destruction across the country.”

But even as Pakistan turns to donors around the world for helpone thing the country will almost certainly not receive: compensation from countries, including the United States. are most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet.

While these two issues may seem unrelated, for decades developing countries have asked wealthier countries to raise funds for costs from heatwaves, floods, droughts, sea level rise and other climate-related disasters. They argue that nations that get rich by burning fossil fuels, such as the United States, Germany, Britain, and Japan, are also warming the planet, causing “loss and damage” in poorer countries.

Flood victims in Pakistan carried belongings they could salvage from their flooded homes as they crossed a flooded area in Dera Allah Yar in August. 28. (Video: AP)

Poor countries demand rich pay for climate damage at UN summit

The issue has become a flashpoint in global climate negotiations. 2015 at the turning point Paris agreement On climate change, countries have agreed to recognize and “address” the loss and damage caused by these dangerous climate impacts. Last year, at the major UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, negotiators from developing countries hoped that negotiators would finally create a formal institution that would transfer cash to the countries most affected by climate disasters.

But although the United States, largest historical emitter carbon dioxide has thwarted such efforts at every turn. Biden administration joins in Glasgow a group of countries inside resisting efforts to pay developing countries heavily affected by climate change.

One of the most important issues is responsibility. US delegates fear that if an official loss and damage fund is created, the US could open itself to suing poorer countries. In his speech at the Glasgow summit, the US’s international climate ambassador, John F. Kerry, said, “We continue to be considerate of responsibility at all times.”

Preety Bhandari, senior adviser on climate and finance at the World Resources Institute. He points out that UN negotiators reached a side agreement in 2015 that addressing such loss and damage did not provide any basis for legal liability. “I think it’s being extremely cautious on the part of the US and other developed countries,” he said.

But as the damage mounts, citizens and politicians in vulnerable countries seek compensation for losing their livelihoods, homes or farms, while some are already going to court. In Peru, a farmer sues a German energy giant; meanwhile, island nations are trying to create a commission that would allow them to sue major countries for climate damage.

Kerry also argued that there are channels available to help deliver aid to countries affected by air disasters, such as Pakistan. USAID, for example, $100,000 humanitarian aid in Pakistan. But such donations It pales in comparison to the rising cost of climate change in the developing world. AND statement A report released by humanitarian group Oxfam in June found that only 54 percent of applications for relief from extreme weather conditions have been made in the past five years. It is funded on average, leaving a deficit of tens of billions of dollars. Existing systems also require developing countries to rely on charity rather than a standardized system of who owes what.

The US and other developed countries will have to reckon with this question at the next major UN climate meeting, known as COP27, scheduled for November in Egypt. However, unless the Biden administration’s perspective changes, no significant progress is expected.

“This particular issue can make or break COP27,” Bhandari said. Said.


A previous version of this article erroneously stated that COP27 was scheduled for December. In fact, it is scheduled for November. This version has been fixed.

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