Climate Reparations and The Catastrophe in Pakistan
Despite the little mainstream media coverage on the mass destruction in Pakistan as a result of extreme flooding, many of us are probably aware of the consequences that Pakistani people are now facing as a result of this catastrophe.
One third of Pakistan is now underwater after a historic monsoon ravaged villages, crop fields and thousands of homes, displacing 33 million people. 1,150 people have died, and it will now cost at least $10 billion - nearly 4% of the country’s GDP - to repair whatever is salvageable according to Pakistan’s government.
Last week, the country’s climate minister told Reuters her people were facing “a climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.”
Afia Salam, a Karachi-based environmental campaigner and journalist said
“we are an agricultural country, and there will be no land to cultivate.”
Despite this, Pakistan accounts for less than 1% of global emissions, yet is ranked at the top 10 vulnerable countries to feel the impacts of climate change. A person in Britain emits over 6 times as much as a person in Pakistan per year, and an American emits around 17 times as much.
This has raised the question that was previously brought up in COP26 - who should be paying for this?
Pakistan's planning minister, Ahsan Iqbal, said richer nations have a "responsibility" to help the country deal with flooding and prevent future disasters because they've caused climate change - though the government has itself been criticised for overlooking the urgency of climate change and failing to build enough preventative infrastructure.
It has now been argued that the case for climate reparations is, now, irrefutable. Climate reparations refer to a call for money to be paid by the Global North to the Global South as a means of addressing the historical contributions that the Global North has made toward climate change. Indeed, countries in the Global North are responsible for 92% of excess global carbon emissions. Despite this, multiple studies have shown that the Global South are facing the sharpest end of the consequences when it comes to climate change - as seen in recent events.
“Climate reparations are also about the need for acknowledgment and accountability for the loss of land and culture—and how that has affected us in the Global South—as a result of climate change,” Farzana Faruk Jhumu, a climate activist organising with Fridays for Future Bangladesh, adds.