Climate chaos, climate carnage, climate crisis, climate catastrophe, and monsoon on steroids are some of the terminologies used by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to describe the devastating floods in Pakistan caused by climate change.
The unprecedented floods have impacted over 33 million people, deluged almost one third of Pakistan-an area equal to the size of the Great Britain, killed around 1400 people, washed away more than 1,800 miles of road and 149 bridges, damaged 19,000 schools and 900 health facilities, and resulted in economic losses estimated at US$ 30 billion.
After visiting the flood hit areas, the UN Secretary General said he had never seen climate related destruction on such a scale.
The Government of Pakistan has deployed all available resources for the relief and rescue operations. Thousands of lives have been saved, hundreds of thousands of people including women and children have been moved to safer locations, millions are being provided temporary shelter, food and medical filialities.
Families of those who have lost their lives or injured and the other affectees are being provided compensations through the Government’s cash disbursement programmes. Compensations are also being provided to rebuild damaged houses.
The friendly countries, UN organisations, civil society, national and international humanitarian organisations have all come forward to help the people affected by the worst climate change induced natural disaster the world has ever seen.
Flights from friendly countries and international organizations including UAE, Turkiye, China, US, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Nepal, UNHCR, UNICEF, and WFP continue bringing the much-needed relief supplies.
We are particularly grateful to the brotherly Government and the people of the UAE for sending in the maximum number of flights so far.
Pakistan is a victim of climate change produced by the more heavily industrialized countries. We are paying a horrendous price for the intransigence of others.
Pakistan is responsible for less than one percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions and is yet 8th on the list of countries most vulnerable to severe weather caused by climate change.
Climate change is becoming a bigger threat to Pakistan than terrorism. It is not a threat to Pakistan alone, it is an existential threat to all of us. Today it is Pakistan, tomorrow it could be any other country.
Responding to the situation in Pakistan, the Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama tweeted: “Let’s be clear: the Pakistani people did not do this to Pakistan-we all did, and the high-emitting nations are most responsible. Unless we end our species’ addiction to fossil fuels, every country in the world will remain in the crosshairs of the climate breakdown”.
Speaking to the media during his recent visit to Pakistan, the UN Secretary General said: “I’m not asking for solidarity or generosity, I’m asking for justice. This is a global crisis which demands a global response”.
The floods in Pakistan are a wakeup call to all of us. The mother nature has spoken against the injustice being done to planet Earth. It is a call no one can afford to ignore.
Our survival and that of our future generations will indeed depend upon our response today. We will have to stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change.
Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri is a Pakistani Diplomat currently serving as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the Commonwealth of Australia and has earlier served as Spokesperson of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.