By Valerie Volcovici
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov. 11 (Reuters) –
Pakistan will not be satisfied until UN climate summit negotiators release emergency funds to rebuild the country after this year’s devastating floods, the climate minister said Thursday.
“The dystopia has already arrived at our doorstep,” climate minister Sherry Rehman told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of Egypt’s COP27 summit.
She lamented the icy pace of climate diplomacy, saying it cannot meet the needs of a country struggling to recover from climate-induced flooding that has caused more than $30 billion in economic losses.
“The political progress we are making here will make very little sense on the ground unless there is a transfer of resources that shifts the needle of how people see the future,” she said.
Pakistan is playing a prominent role at this year’s COP27 summit in Egypt, as one of two co-chairs invited by host of the conference, Egypt, and the other being Norway.
Pakistan also represents the G77’s umbrella group of developing countries, which is pushing for a doubling of finances to help poor countries adapt to climate impacts.
To date, only about a third of the climate finance provided has gone to
, and the full amount promised — $100 billion a year — has never been paid in full. Just over $80 billion was transferred last year.
Pakistan was key to getting the thorny issue of “loss and damage” on the official agenda of the UN summit – a diplomatic coup after decades of resistance from rich countries. The move opened the door for talks to meet vulnerable countries’ demands for compensation when they are hit by climate-related disasters.
But the incremental progress in these discussions, which could take years, would still not be enough for Pakistanis at home to view the talks as a victory, she said.
“If I say, ‘well, adaptation is now prioritized’ … or ‘there is a 50-50 allocation in terms of priority between mitigation-adaptation,’ it won’t mean much to someone whose house has been burned down by a forest fire or someone who has lost a family member in the floods,” she said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called on rich countries to offer compensation and debt relief to cover Pakistan’s efforts to rebuild and fortify the country against the more severe climate impacts.
The September floods swept through large parts of the country, affecting some 33 million people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Rehman said any newly pledged money for loss and damage or for adjustment must be followed up “with speed and agility”, because countries like Pakistan have no time to lose.
She said she supported calls from the United States, Britain and other countries to overhaul international financial institutions to better respond to expected disasters as the atmosphere continues to warm.
“There is an acknowledgment [at COP27] that we are facing a new climate that is normal for the world,” she said. “But there is still no recognition that the financial system that runs the world… will not be able to save the millions who are dying and in distress.” (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Katy Daigle and Deepa Babington)