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Pakistan Flood Puts Climate Injustice in the Spotlight: The Age of Catastrophe

The fight against climate injustice: About one-third of Pakistan is currently underwater from floods. With over 1500 deaths, thousands injured, and hundreds of thousands displaced, the catastrophe unraveling is not something new.

From Uganda to Pakistan, extreme climate events are devastating the lives of millions of already vulnerable populations. Yet, while the low-income nations continue to suffer, wealthy countries watch in silence.

This is Mzemo’s The Age of Catastrophe and here’s how the Pakistan flood is highlighting the global climate injustice:

Pakistan’s Catastrophic Floods

Collapsed villages, millions displaced, and hundreds dead— the monsoon season this year is unravelling havoc. Across Pakistan, flooding induced by torrential rain (five to seven times the typical rain )that started in July and peaked in August has left millions homeless.

The devastation started with an extreme heatwave melting down snow from over Himalayan 7000 glaciers. Followed by heavy rainfall, causing massive flooding in mid-July, compounded by the melting glacier rushing downwards from the mountain.

Since June, Pakistan has recorded over 15,000 fatalities and over 13,000 injuries. The aftermath of the flood will bring increased diseases, poverty, hunger, and massive rebuilding costs. Especially now when over a million houses are damaged or destroyed. Early estimates show the damage to cost over $30 billion.

“This whole year we have borne the humanitarian payload of other people’s carbon-rich lifestyles,”

Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s federal minister for lcimate change

Soon scientists will find the root cause of the devastating floods and long-term climate change is definitely an undeniable reason. However, when it comes to allocating responsibilities for the climate-attributable costs, the true culprits will likely back off.

And Pakistan is not the only one. Countries around the globe are suffering from similar cases of climate injustice.

Countries Most Vulnerable to Climate Injustice

2022 has been a devastating year for the human-induced climate crisis. From drought in the horn of Africa to mega-fires and typhoons in the US, the world is amidst climate change catastrophes.

Even though the developing countries have done the least to contribute, they are at the forefront of climate catastrophe. Heatwaves and droughts have become unbearably frequent in Africa.

Then there are storms—the warmer the air, the stronger winds and rain across the tropics. And, by 2050, the sea level will have risen so high that floods that used to hit once in a century will hit various coastal cities every year.

The inequality of climate change comes together hardest in these vulnerable countries. Even though these people have barely contributed to global warming, they are amongst the most susceptible.

But, here’s the truth: building a climate-change resilient economy is expensive, and countries like Madagascar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Somalia don’t have enough funds.

These heart-wrenching cases are a few of the millions highlighting the sheer inadequacy of global superpowers in raising sufficient funding and the climate injustice at the heart of it all.

Finding the Culprits

The current carbon-emitting hotspots, including China, India, and Brazil, look less guilty when you realize that they have only recently become part of the problem. Whereas, the real culprits are not ready to accept how unjust climate changes are.

The inequalities that have brought one-third of Pakistan under water are not discussed enough. In addition, the world’s most significant carbon emitters have consistently failed to support climate change-induced loss and damage measures while also falling short on mitigation and adaptation efforts while committing to lessen the harm caused to the most vulnerable countries.

Global Carbon Emission is rising. Photo by: Scientific American

Research conducted in 2020 found that the Global North has emitted about 92% of the CO2 that has pushed the planet to today’s catastrophe. Whereas Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa together account for less than 8% of the emission.

Countries are also overspending their carbon budgets. According to Oxfam International, the wealthiest 1% produces twice as much as the poorest 50%. The two countries most responsible for the climate crisis, China and the United States, aren’t discussing climate solutions.

But, the Pakistan flood has put climate injustice in the spotlight once again. A climate justice movement planned for street protests and meetings on September 9, 2022, in a number of nations across the world to show support for Pakistan’s flood victims.

It’s high time to realize that what’s happening to Pakistan will continue to repeat elsewhere. International cooperation is necessary to decent one another and put an end to climate crime.

Centuries-Old Injustice with a New Face

Be it climate change, slavery, or colonialism, and the rich and powerful nations are quick to dismiss their historical responsibility. 

Yes, every country must decarbonize its energy system and focus more on sustainability. But, the rich and powerful countries frequently dismiss their historical responsibility, whether for colonialism, slavery, or climate change. All countries must decarbonize their energy systems and manage their land and ecosystems appropriately and sustainably.

However, the poor world will not forget the part that affluent nations played in causing today’s global climate crises. As the cost of climate-related losses rises, so will global calls for climate justice.

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