Responsibility for tackling climate urged

According to Pakistan's disaster management agency, 33 million people have been affected by the floods. The country's climate minister, Sherry Rehman, said a third of the country is under water.

Minlu Zhang and Ji Tao

Minlu Zhang and Ji Tao

China Daily


Munir Akram, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN. [Photo/Agencies]

August 31, 2022

BEIJING – Developing nations suffer pain caused by developed states, Pakistan envoy says

With Pakistan devastated by unprecedented flooding, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations has called on developed countries to take responsibility for climate change.

But Munir Akram expressed optimism that the China-proposed Global Development Initiative, or GDI, will play an important role in countering the effects of a warming planet along with easing shortages in global food supplies.

“Countries like Pakistan, we are one of the smallest emitters of carbon. We have contributed almost nothing to global warming. But we are the fifth-largest victim of climate change,” Akram, the permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, told China Daily in an exclusive interview on Friday. “And the droughts, floods, melting of the glaciers … all of these are contributing factors to the disaster we are facing in Pakistan today in the shape of floods.”

Floods caused by climate change, monsoon rains, and melting glaciers had killed at least 1,136 people in Pakistan by Monday, and that toll is set to rise further as many communities in the mountainous northern regions remain cut off by flooded rivers that washed away roads and bridges.

According to the country’s disaster management agency, 33 million people, or 15 percent of the population, have been affected by the floods. The country’s climate minister, Sherry Rehman, said a third of the country is under water.

Akram said the international community needs a strategy for adaptation to enable developing countries to face these kinds of disasters, and to restrain the impact of flooding and drought on these countries. “We need major projects for adaptation,” Akram said.

Developing countries are asking for a facility to compensate them for loss and damage, said Akram, who is also the chairman of the Group of 77 and China. The G77 is a group of 134 developing countries at the UN, with the name taken from the number of its founding members.

“It is the industrial countries, which have for the last 200 years contributed to global warming. And it is in developing countries, mostly like Pakistan, who are the victims,” said Akram.

“Therefore for such damage, there should be some mechanism for loss and damage to compensate for those countries for the impacts they are facing, because of the historical policies of industrialized countries that contributed to global warming.”

Akram said developing countries are looking forward to the 27th UN Climate Change Conference, or COP 27, in Egypt in November. COPs are yearly conferences held under the framework of the UN to assess progress in dealing with climate change. “We will be pressing for the rights of developing countries to equitable treatment, or in terms of support for adaptation as well as compensation for loss and damage,” he said.

A flood victim takes refuge along a road in a makeshift tent in Mehar, Pakistan, Aug 29, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

‘Iron brother’

“I’m very, very happy, in particular, with the response we received first and foremost from China, which is our ‘iron brother’. And it has been a generous response. And we are looking forward to further support from China.”

A statement issued by China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday last week said Beijing will provide emergency humanitarian supplies to Pakistan, including 25,000 tents and other supplies, with deliveries to come as soon as possible.

The Red Cross Society of China will provide $300,000 in emergency cash assistance to the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, the statement said.

The statement said China has already provided 4,000 tents, 50,000 blankets and 50,000 pieces of waterproof canvas in disaster relief for Pakistan under the social and livelihood cooperation framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Of the food crisis threatening countries including Pakistan, Akram said that one lesson Pakistan can learn from China is to eliminate poverty and hunger, and that should also be a development priority for Pakistan.

“We need great support to small farmers. We need transport technology. We need financing mechanisms that credit farmers. We need farm-to-market roads to be able to take the crops to the market. We need fair prices. We need better education systems. We need the advanced technologies, which are applicable in order to grow better crops, better yields, and in order to find the basis for food security,” said Akram. “So there is much we can learn from what China has done.”

He believes the GDI will make “a great contribution” in addressing these needs, and he hopes the “model can be emulated by developing countries”.

The initiative is aimed at supporting the development of developing countries, promoting a global economic recovery and strengthening international development cooperation.

“And then, of course, China itself is investing, is contributing and creating infrastructure, agriculture infrastructure, support to farmers and support to the continuation of crops that are needed by the world,” said Akram. He said these are concrete means through which the GDI will provide the framework to support nations.

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