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Floods in Pakistan and Climate Justice Debate

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Pakistan has witnessed one of the worst floods caused by unprecedented rains across the country. Floods have affected more than 33 million people, most of whom are Children and Women at greater risk. The climate nightmare has trashed the infrastructure, which was already in danger of failing. Many parts of the country, KPK, South Punjab, Sindh, and Baluchistan, have lost interconnectivity. Rebuilding the infrastructure and coming back to normal will take years. Floods in Pakistan became global news highlights as well. Pakistan declared a state of emergency. It was endorsed by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said, ‘Floods in Pakistan is a global crisis, and it needs Global Response’’.

The Climate Justice Debate

The estimated loss by floods is also massive; according to some reports, it is 40 billion dollars. This figure is 10 billion dollars more than the government calculated at the initial stage. All these episodes of horrors caused by the floods initiated a global debate. People around the globe are talking about Climate Justice and climate compensation. The officials of the Pakistani government at different world forums have urged global actors to help Pakistan in this dire situation because Pakistan is less responsible for what it is facing. The contribution of Pakistan to Climate Change is almost none. The messes created by the developed countries, rapid development, industrialization, and tech advancement with unregulated checks on their carbon emission have caused a significant threat to developing countries, contributing very little.

The economy of Pakistan is already crumbling due to a lack of coherent policies. The political instability within the country is adding more to worsen the situation. Pakistan cannot deal with the catastrophe of floods on its own. As a result, assistance from the international community is needed to bring attention to the climate justice discussion.

TOPSHOT – A man (L) along with a youth use a satellite dish to move children across a flooded area after heavy monsoon rainfalls in Jaffarabad district, Balochistan province, on August 26, 2022. – Heavy rain continued to pound parts of Pakistan on August 26 after the government declared an emergency to deal with monsoon flooding it said had “affected” over four million people. (Photo by Fida HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by FIDA HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Challenges to Global South

It is high time for those countries to take responsibility that has benefited from rapid industrialization. These countries reaped fruits without paying the cost. The developed states need to realize that they have altered the climate sphere of the world. Developing and third-world nations are facing the consequences. The Global South needs full support and aid from the global north to cope with the situation. The weather patterns worldwide are shifting. It’s tough for Low-income countries to handle the case based on the predictions only because they don’t have enough resources to manage.

Who is to be blamed for climate change?

One cannot blame nature alone for the man-made calamity. The wealthiest countries, without taking notice of the impacts, continued to have industrialization. This has disrupted nature, and now nature is taking its revenge. The growth of the world is based on injustice for several reasons. For example, the developed countries (USA, Japan, and European Countries) whose contribution is more than 50 percent in fossil fuel consumption, only 15 percent in terms of population. The countries most at risk of climate disaster are those with minimal participation in climate calamities.

The current devastation, especially in the context of Pakistan, is just a reflection of horror waiting for us in the future. The situation needs collective efforts towards Decarbonization and development, which is more environmentally friendly. The world is at the stage where we can not reverse the development and growth achieved in the past few centuries. It is time to regulate these channels and work towards an eco-friendly structure. That’s where the debate of climate adaptation comes alongside climate justice.

Solutions to Climate Change

The realization of the issue is a vital step toward the solution. We must take structural measures to ensure sustainability regarding environmental policies. We must initiate the climate adaptation and resilience policy framework as soon as possible. The faster the climate changes, the more difficult and expensive it becomes to get back on track. And those countries which are the most hit by Climate change should be a pioneer in these steps. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Countries like Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh are yet to take any comprehensive policy and step toward climate resilience and adaptability.

Pakistan needs to work on ecological, social, political, and economic adjustments to mitigate the impact of climatic stimuli. The state must respond on the community level to create awareness regarding the issue. And then impellent those policies to ensure the results. The policy must include all stakeholders and levels from the national, regional, and international organizations. The public and private sector partnership regarding the issue can also be a good option for an effective management system.

Climate adaptation is a costly process. Hence the debate on climate justice should be parallel, and we can not just stick to one direction. The countries that have done the worst to the earth should compensate those who are a victim of negligence. Parties of the Paris agreement and the UNFCCC acknowledge that adaptation is a worldwide challenge. As a result, collaboration across all dimensions is necessary to address the problem of climate change. Pakistan needs to have a country-driven, responsive, and transparent approach. It should prioritize moving towards climate adaptability, keeping the climate justice debate alive.

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The author is a graduate of International Relations from QAU, Islamabad. He is currently a research intern at the Institute of Regional Studies Islamabad.

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