Climate justice

Editorial Board
Saturday, Oct 01, 2022

As Climate Change Minister Sherry Rahman has noted, although Pakistan produces only one per cent of greenhouse gases which cause global warming and according to Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal are chiefly responsible for the devastating floods in the country, there is too little help from countries which do produce far more greenhouse gases to deal with the crisis. The minister has pointed out that the world needs to take responsibility for the situation in Pakistan where 100 per cent of the cotton crop in Sindh, Pakistan's main cash crop, has been virtually wiped out by the floods and acres upon acres of land are unlikely to be in a situation where they can be sowed this year. In addition, crops which were to be harvested have been destroyed and the danger of food insecurity lies ahead.

While private relief organizations have been of help as are the armed forces, Minister Ahsan Iqbal has pointed out that far more is needed and that a two-year plan may be required to deal with the catastrophe that has hit the country. Indeed, there has been too little focus on the scale of this disaster. The low-lying areas of Sindh have almost turned into small oceans. There also seems to be too little thought for the people, who live for now in flimsy tents or other makeshift shelters – some of them having received no relief even now, mainly due to the scale of the operation. In this, the planning minister's warning that it may take up to two years to recover all that has been lost spells even more trouble for those affected by the flood. This is why Pakistan needs more and more aid for debt servicing and flood relief.

The state of affairs however also needs to be dealt with at home as quickly as is possible. In the first place, 1600 people have been killed and many others injured due to the floods. Disease is now taking over flooded areas with dengue, malaria, cholera, gastroenteritis and other illnesses all claiming lives as people continue to live in a state of misery. Something has to be done to rescue them from this situation. In a valuable initiative, Minister Sherry Rehman has announced that parliament has approved Living Indus, a climate project aimed at protecting the area from environmental threats. While Pakistan must do all it can to protect itself from the inevitable consequences of climate change, it must also team up with the rest of the developing world in demanding climate reparations from the Global North. The government, while asking for climate justice from the world, must also look at climate justice within – instead of persecuting, supporting climate activists inside the country when they demand climate action.