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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Climate injustice and global apathy: The case of Pakistan

Climate change is the most important issue of our age; we are the first to see its early warning signals and the last to have a chance to prevent it from occurring. Living in a bubble of ignorance can only get us so far; our globe is indeed a scene of melting glaciers, rising floods, animal extinctions, extreme weather events, and the list continues

In 2007, Richard Heinberg was the one who came up with the term “climate injustice” to characterize what he called an unequal distribution of the burdens and advantages of global warming. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the number of greenhouse gases contributed to the atmosphere by developed nations has been anywhere from a factor of 20 to a factor of 60 higher than that of emerging ones. Developing countries are projected to bear a disproportionate amount of the effects of climate change, despite the fact that their contributions to the problem have been more unequal.

The global climate change negotiations that took place in the late 1990s revealed a substantial inequality in terms of the liabilities and gains associated with climate change. Heinberg emphasizes that this fact will have grave implications for the political stability of the planet, saying that wealthy Western nations will be in no position to lecture the rest about what they owe their poor.

Read more: Pakistan requires enormous aid after floods: Gutteres

The recent floods in Pakistan are an eyeopener

The recent flooding in Pakistan has claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people, including 453 children, and 33 million people, or 15 percent of the population of 220,000,000, are at risk. The government’s mission to safeguard the well-being of its residents cannot be realized unless victims of climate-related disasters are provided with adequate compensation for their losses.

Similarly, Business Standard estimates that $12.5 billion has been lost from the Pakistani economy. For the current fiscal year, Bloomberg has forecasted an inflation rate of 30%, which would be an all-time high. The State Bank of Pakistan has predicted a drop in growth from 4.5 percent to 2 percent for the current fiscal year.

Who is responsible for this?

In a recent Project Syndicate piece, Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development and president of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, claimed in a recent Project Syndicate piece that fossil fuel combustion caused 1.69 trillion tonnes of CO2 emissions between 1850 and 2020. The US contributes 24.6% (417 billion tonnes) of that total, which is substantially more than its 4.2% share of the world population in 2021.

High-income countries account for 58.7% of cumulative CO2 emissions but only for about 15% of the world’s population. He further states that between 1850 and 2020, Pakistan produced about 5.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2), or about the same as the United States produces annually. Since it only accounts for 2.9% of the world’s population and bears a relatively small percentage of the world’s climatic harm, it bears a relatively small percentage of historical culpability.

The story of Pakistan’s efforts to conserve the environment has been amazing. In addition to serving as the leader of the G77 at the Earth Summit that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992, the country’s Constitution has a comprehensive list of “Fundamental Rights.” Pakistan has ratified all major international environmental agreements, including the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and other climate change-related protocols.

Read more: How can Pakistan avoid floods in the future

Pakistan is also a signatory to all major international environmental agreements, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Ramsar Convention, and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Oceans. Pakistan’s efforts to save wildlife and wildlife habitats, in turn, have won international acclaim.

“Global warming should be seen not as an environmental crisis but as a human rights issue that risks the lives, livelihoods, and homes of millions of people,” said former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed. The way nations are tackling global warming is fundamentally unjust because it ignores the historical responsibilities of rich countries that have benefited from the burning of fossil fuels. During his recent visit to Pakistan, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said, “We need to stop the madness with which we are treating nature. According to the scientific community, we need to reduce emissions by 45 percent by 2030. I’m not talking about the end of the century, I’m not talking about 2050, I’m talking about now. Now is the time to reduce emissions.”

To achieve sustainable growth, we must argue more than ever for the benefits of multilateral collaboration. We will only be able to contribute to the creation of a world that is peaceful and less stressful if we do this. There is only one Earth, and it is our duty to do everything in our power to protect it. Doing this will require us to work together, collaborate, and learn from each other.


The writer is working as a researcher in an Islamabad-based think tank, Pakistan-China Institute. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.