Sep 4, 2022 - World

Pakistan minister wants rich nations to pay countries facing climate disasters

Pakistan's climate change minister Sherry Rehman. Photo: Farooq Naeem/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan’s minister for climate change called for rich countries to pay reparations to their counterparts facing climate disasters for contributing the brunt of emissions that have led to global warming.

Why it matters: Sherry Rehman's suggestion, made in an interview with the Guardian out Sunday, comes as Pakistan has pleaded with the international community for an “immense humanitarian response” as it suffers from unprecedented flooding that has left more than 1,250 people dead.

  • Scientists have blamed the unusual monsoon rains and flooding on climate change. Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the world to stop “sleepwalking” through the deadly crisis.

What they're saying: “There is so much loss and damage with so little reparations to countries that contributed so little to the world’s carbon footprint that obviously the bargain made between the global north and global south is not working," Rehman said.

  • "We need to be pressing very hard for a reset of the targets because climate change is accelerating much faster than predicted, on the ground, that is very clear.”

The backdrop: World leaders at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year did not commit to an agreement to compensate developing nations for the damage they've sustained from global warming despite playing such a little role in causing it.

  • The idea — which has been referred to as "loss and damage" — is now on climate negotiations radar in a way it hadn't been previously, writes Axios' Ben Geman.

Rehman also called on countries to ramp up their emissions targets in the face of a climate crisis that accelerated, making catastrophes like the one in Pakistan all the more common.

  • “Global warming is the existential crisis facing the world and Pakistan is ground zero — yet we have contributed less than 1% to [greenhouse gas] emissions. We all know that the pledges made in multilateral forums have not been fulfilled,” Rehman said.

The bottom line: “The whole area looks like an ocean with no horizon — nothing like this has been seen before,” said Rehman of the flooding in Pakistan.

  • “I wince when I hear people say these are natural disasters. This is very much the age of the anthropocene: these are man-made disasters.”
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