COP27: Pakistan Leads Push For "Loss and Damage" Compensation at Sharm El-Sheikh
COP27, the United Nations climate summit, opened in Egypt on Sunday with the addition of negotiations over funding to compensate nations for “loss and damage” as an official agenda item. Pakistan led the push for it with the support of 134 developing nations. Discussions at COP26 in Scotland were mainly focused on funding "mitigation" and "adaptation", not compensation for "loss and damage".
|Pakistan Pavilion at COP27 Conference in Sharm Al-Sheikh, Egypt|
The "loss and damage" agenda item was proposed by Pakistan during talks at Bonn after the country suffered heavy losses in unprecedented floods that hit a third of the country. “My country, Pakistan, has seen floods that have left 33 million lives in tatters and have caused loss and damage amounting to 10% of the GDP,” said Ambassador Munir Akram, the 2022 chair of the G77—a group of 134 developing countries, at the opening session of COP27 at Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt.
|Cumulative CO2 Emissions By Country/Region. Source: The World|
Pakistan has contributed only 0.28% of the CO2 emissions but it is among the biggest victims of climate change. The US, Europe, India, China and Japan, the world's biggest polluters, must accept responsibility for the catastrophic floods in Pakistan and climate disasters elsewhere. A direct link of the disaster in Pakistan to climate change has been confirmed by a team of 26 scientists affiliated with World Weather Attribution, a research initiative that specializes in rapid studies of extreme events, according to the New York Times.
|Top 5 Current Polluters. Source: Our World in Data|
Currently, the biggest annual CO2 emitters are China, the US, India and Russia. Pakistan's annual CO2 emissions add up to just 235 million tons. On the other hand, China contributes 11.7 billion tons, the United States 4.5 billion tons, India 2.4 billion tons, Russia 1.6 billion tons and Japan 1.06 billion tons.
|Pakistan's Annual CO2 Emission. Source: Our World in Data|
The United States has contributed 399 billion tons (25%) of CO2 emissions, the highest cumulative carbon emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century. The 28 countries of the European Union (EU28), including the United Kingdom, come in second with 353 billion tons of CO2 (22%), followed by China with 200 billion tons (12.7%).
|Cumulative CO2 Emissions. Source: Our World in Data|
Pakistan's cumulative CO2 contribution in its entire history is just 4.4 billion tons (0.28%). Among Pakistan's neighbors, China's cumulative contribution is 200 billion tons (12.7%), India's 48 billion tons (3%) and Iran's 17 billion tons (1%).
|Developing Asian Nations' CO2 Emissions. Source: Our World in Data|
Pakistan has contributed little to climate change but it has become one of its biggest victims. In the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, signatories agreed to recognize and “address” the loss and damage caused by those dangerous climate impacts, according to the Washington Post. Last year, at the major U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, negotiators from developing countries tried to establish a formal fund to help the countries like Pakistan most affected by climate disasters. It was blocked by rich countries led by the Biden administration. Formal addition of "loss and damage" item at this year's COP27 conference agenda is a good start. Let's hope that a formal fund is established by the world's top polluters to compensate Pakistan and other developing nations.
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‘We are spending billions of rupees from our own meagre resources, says Pakistani PM
Pakistan's Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif made an emotional plea in a speech at the COP27 summit this afternoon in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, calling on richer nations to help countries that are reeling from the effects of the climate crisis.
During his speech, he said it was “now or never” to take action and that “for us, there is no ‘planet B’”.
“This COP rings an alarm bell for humanity, it is the only platform where the survival of the human race as a goal still holds promise,” he said.
“It is also the forum where we as vulnerable countries take our case to the rich and the resourced to build a road map to crucial policy resets needed in a world that is burning up faster than our capacity for recovery.”
He added that the nation is being forced to spend billions of rupees from its own “meagre resources” and will enter a “debt trap” if it continues to pay for the damages.
Mr Sharif’s comments come in the wake of devastating floods across parts of Pakistan, which have affected 33 million people and caused an estimated $40bn (£35bn ) in damages.
1,739 deaths, 12,867 injuries
2,288,481 homes damaged
13,115 kilometers of roads affected
Update by Province
336 deaths, 187 injuries
32 districts affected
115,822 houses destroyed, 125,837 damaged
309 deaths, 370 injuries
17 districts affected
37,525 houses destroyed, 53,939 damaged
223 deaths, 3,858 injuries
Three districts affected
25,854 houses destroyed, 42,127 damaged
799 deaths, 8,422 injuries
24 districts affected
716,819 houses destroyed, 1,168,210 damaged
Tens of millions of people in Pakistan have been affected by the flooding, caused by devastating monsoon rains, that has engulfed one-third of the country. There have been more than 1,700 deaths, and more than 6 million people remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Many people live in unsanitary conditions in temporary shelters on the roads, often with limited access to basic services, heightening the risk of a major public health crisis.
Though flood water has started receding in many districts of Sindh and Balochistan during the last few weeks, standing water remains in many districts, leading to outbreaks of water- and vector-borne diseases—a problem compounded by the destruction of health facilities by the floods.
Among other challenges, low stocks of essential medicines and medical supplies, and limits to access, are becoming hurdles to providing adequate health services to people in need.
The winter season in many of the affected areas is approaching fast and is likely to negatively affect the population in the coming weeks. Without adequate shelters and blankets, the health situation will quickly worsen.
The floods have also aggravated food insecurity and malnutrition in affected areas, with predictions that about 14.6 million people will require emergency food assistance from December through March 2023. According to the latest National Nutrition Survey estimates, almost 1.6 million children in Sindh and Balochistan are at the risk of malnutrition that will require treatment; stunting rates among these children will rise if they do not receive treatment in a timely manner.
The Prime Minister of the island nation Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, said on Tuesday that highly polluting emerging economies, such as China and India, should contribute to a climate compensation fund to help other countries rebuild infrastructure after climate change-driven disasters, reported Reuters.
Browne made the comments while speaking on behalf of the Association of Small Island States negotiating bloc at the United Nations Conference of Parties, or COP27, which is being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
At the conference, developing countries have sought financing from developed countries to help them reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. They have also demanded funds to deal with irreparable loss and damage caused by disasters that climate change is making significantly more frequent and intense.
“We all know that the People’s Republic of China, India – they’re major polluters, and the polluter must pay,” Browne said on Tuesday, reported Reuters. “I don’t think that there’s any free pass for any country and I don’t say this with any acrimony.”
China, the United States, and India were the top emitters of carbon dioxide in 2020, according to Our World in Data by Reuters.
More than 90% of India’s population lives in areas where air quality is below World Health Organization standards, according to a report by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. Coal-fired power plants, factories and vehicles are among the major sources of pollution in the country
or 'there's a a 50-50 allocation in terms of priority between mitigation-adaptation', it's not going to mean very much to somebody whose house has been burned down by a forest fire or somebody 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 help cover Pakistan's efforts to rebuild and fortify the country against more severe climate impacts.
Pakistan will not be satisfied unless U.N. climate summit negotiators unlock emergency cash for the country to rebuild after this year's devastating floods, its climate minister said Thursday. "The dystopia has already come to our doorstep," the country's climate minister, Sherry Rehman, told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the COP27 summit in Egypt.
She lamented the glacial pace of climate diplomacy, saying it cannot meet the needs of a country struggling to recover from climate-fueled flooding that caused more than $30 billion in economic losses. "The political advances we make here will have very little meaning on the ground unless there is a transfer of resources that shifts the needle on how people face the future," she said.
Pakistan is playing a high-profile role at the COP27 summit in Egypt this year, serving as one of two co-chairs invited by conference host Egypt, with the other being Norway. Pakistan also represents the G77 umbrella group of developing countries, pushing for a doubling in finance to help poor nations adapt to climate impacts.
To date, only about a third of climate finance delivered has gone toward adaptation projects
, and the full sum promised - $100 billion per year - has never been paid in full. Last year saw just over $80 billion transferred. Pakistan was key to getting the thorny issue of "loss and damage" onto the official U.N. summit agenda - a diplomatic coup after decades of resistance from rich nations. The move opened the door for talks to address vulnerable countries' demand to be compensated when hit by climate-fueled disasters.
But incremental progress made in these discussions, which can go on for years, still wouldn't be enough for Pakistanis back at home to consider the talks a win, she said. "If I say, 'well, adaptation has now been put as a priority' ... or 'there's a a 50-50 allocation in terms of priority between mitigation-adaptation', it's not going to mean very much to somebody whose house has been burned down by a forest fire or somebody 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 help cover Pakistan's efforts to rebuild and fortify the country against more severe climate impacts. September's floods engulfed vast areas of the country, affecting some 33 million people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Rehman said that any new money pledged either for loss and damage or for adaptation needs to be followed up "with speed and agility", because countries like Pakistan have no time to waste. She said she supported the call by the United States, Britain and other countries to overhaul international financial institutions to better respond to the disasters expected as the atmosphere continues to warm.
"There is a recognition [at COP27] that we are facing a new climate normal for the world," she said. "But there still isn't a recognition that the financial system that's been running the world ... is not going to be able to bail out the millions that are dying and in need."
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
The World Bank (WB) has estimated that the total investment needed for a comprehensive response to Pakistan’s climate and development challenges between 2023 and 2030 amounts to around $348 billion, according to a report at the UN’s climate summit on Wednesday.
The estimated amount — equal to 10.7 per cent of cumulative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the same period — was evaluated in the ‘Country Climate and Development Report’ for Pakistan, which was presented at the climate change summit held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
This amount consists of $152bn for adaptation and resilience and $196bn for deep de-carbonisation.
The report warned that the combined risks from the intensification of climate change and environmental degradation, unless addressed, would further aggravate Pakistan’s economic fragility and could ultimately reduce the annual GDP by 18pc to 20pc per year by 2050.
Between 6.5pc and 9pc of the GDP would likely be lost to climate change as increased floods and heatwaves reduce agriculture and livestock yields, destroy infrastructure, decrease labour productivity, and undermine health.
Additionally, water shortages in agriculture could reduce the GDP by more than 4.6pc and air pollution could impose a loss of 6.5pc of the GDP per year, the report warns.
It went on that a comprehensive climate-financing strategy would need to be developed with higher domestic resource mobilisation, more accountable and impactful allocation of public spending, and higher levels of international climate finance.
Given the size of expected climate shocks, the report deemed greater concessional international finance essential.
While the country “could and should forcefully make its case for this”, the report also stated that donors may be more willing to offer sustained support if revenue leakage and governance issues were systematically addressed.
Targets of nationally determined contribution
The report further asked the government to prioritise interventions that simultaneously deliver development outcomes and climate benefits and sequence policy actions realistically, based on their overall impact and relative urgency.
It, however, added that as the magnitude of the recent floods showed, the government may also be forced to evaluate some hard trade-offs between investing in climate adaptation and other development interventions.
The National Action Plan proposed under the nationally determined contribution (NDC) ought to be developed and implemented, the report said.
It added that mainstreaming climate priorities into broader development plans would be a critical starting point.
Furthermore, climate and disaster risk screening and climate budgeting should be embedded within the public financial management system to improve the transparency and efficiency of public spending on climate actions.
A climate-resilient, low-carbon, and equitable development pathway would enable Pakistan to reach its NDC targets, the report emphasised.
Financing composition available over next decade not enough
According to the report, the heatwave and devastating floods of 2022 call for urgent climate action in Pakistan.
The level of damage sustained is clearly the result of intensifying climate change but it also highlighted the lack of investment in adaptation and the concentrated exposure of population and vulnerable assets in high-risk areas, the report noted.
It added that considering the scale of the shocks, Pakistan would need increased international support in order to build longer-term resilience or else its hard-won development gains and future aspirations could be jeopardised.
An illustrative assessment based on a retrospective review of the level of funding in recent years suggests that the current financing composition available over the next decade can be estimated to be around $39bn from public finance — including multilateral development banks financing — and $9bn from public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects.
However, the report deemed it to be not enough to address the identified priority transitions.
Possible measures to generate revenue
As Pakistan is calling for additional international financing, the report encouraged the government to explore the repurposing of subsidies in the energy, agriculture and water sectors along with improving tax and tariff collection.
This could be done while protecting the poorest and most vulnerable through well-targeted programmes and transfers, it suggested.
Specifically, it added that Pakistan could maintain its commitment to energy decarbonisation and accelerate comprehensive reform in the energy sector, including piloting the implementation of carbon pricing instruments.
The WB report estimated that if fully implemented, the combined revenue of these measures could result in around $10bn per year.
It also emphasised that the repurposing of existing subsidies was necessary for growth and climate resilience, and to do this effectively, the historical experience highlighted the need for careful communication and phasing of reform efforts.
This was to ensure a gradual process that has political and social acceptance, as well as the protection of poor households and farmers, especially during the transition.
The report’s key recommendations included phasing down the wheat support system, gradually removing the power tariff subsidy on electric tubewells, piloting new models for the solarisation of tubewells and incentivising water conservation to avoid an adverse impact on groundwater substantially.
Gradually phasing down the natural gas subsidy for chemical fertiliser production was also suggested.
Furthermore, it advised rechanneling fiscal savings from the reform of long-standing subsidies as smart subsidies to poorer farmers to promote resilient farming practices.
Adopting climate-smart practices, making Pakistan climate-resilient
Climate-smart and regenerative agricultural practices could reverse the decline in productivity, enhance the viability of the agri-food system, and reverse ecosystem degradation, the report said.
Key actions to be taken for the broad adoption of such practices included investing in research on context-specific methods for scaling up climate-smart and regenerative farming while improving coordination between research and dissemination.
Modernising extension services and improving access to credit, machinery, and technology were also recommended.
The report deemed it essential to invest in the development of sustainable value chains with a focus on access by smallholder farmers, potentially through participatory multi-stakeholder forums.
The report also called for making Pakistan’s cities more climate-resilient and livable which would enhance their competitiveness and lower emissions.
However, this would require investment and improved management of urban services, it noted.
It further said that the way cities — major contributors to greenhouse gases and have high levels of air pollution — have developed and are managed, also makes them highly vulnerable to climate disasters.
The report estimated that if Pakistan reduced air pollution to internationally established standards, premature deaths could decline by up to 53pc by 2030 and be fully eliminated by 2040.
This would significantly cut health costs while achieving climate mitigation benefits.
Reforming the power sector
The report stressed there was an urgent need to strengthen the institutional and revenue generation capacity of local governments for improving service provision and attracting private investment.
Cities need to prioritise actions that create sustainable revenue streams for investment in resilient infrastructure and improved delivery of basic municipal services, it said.
The report stated that Pakistan’s energy and transport sectors were highly polluting and a drain on the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
It added that transitioning to sustainable energy and transport was feasible and would contribute significantly to development and climate goals.
Imported fossil fuels provide 43pc of the country’s energy supply and cost the country $13bn annually.
Even though electricity costs are high, the country’s reliability and quality of supply are poor. There are also gaps in access to electricity and clean cooking fuel, particularly in rural areas.
According to the WB report, the needed reforms in the power sector include the setting of cost-reflective tariffs, improving the targeting of subsidies, reducing the cost of generation and addressing inefficiencies in distribution.
Pakistan would also need to improve demand-side efficiency, with special attention given to industry and transport considering their significance in terms of energy consumption and long-term decarbonisation.
Analysis showed that a sustainable energy transition and the application of a carbon tax would support higher growth, reduce emissions and pollution and, with the right policies, protect the poor.
The report recommended that Pakistan needed to address its human capital crisis to sustain economic progress and the transition to a green and resilient economy.
One of the most important priorities facing the country was to improve the population’s health status, particularly child stunting, which affects 40pc of the population.
It further added that an accelerated decline in the fertility rate would have similarly large benefits for both equitable growth and resilience.
Accelerating the fertility decline in Pakistan to reach replacement levels by 2035 — instead of the currently projected timeline of 2050 — would reduce its expected population in 2050 from 336 million to about 303m, the report pointed out.
Integrating climate and development is a pillar of the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Climate Change Action Plan 2021-25. To advance its implementation, the WBG has launched the Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR). This new, core diagnostic tool analyzes how a country’s development goals can be achieved in the context of adapting to, and mitigating against, climate change. As such, the Pakistan CCDR provides analysis and policy recommendations on how to harmonize the country’s efforts to achieve further economic growth and lower poverty rates, on the one hand, with the pursuit of a climate-resilient, low-carbon, and equitable development path, on the other. In light of the devastating 2022 heatwaves and floods and the country’s vulnerability profile, the CCDR puts a strong emphasis on the need for building long-term resilience. Further, it explores pathways for Pakistan to achieve deep decarbonization by 2050, and eventually reach net-zero emissions by 2070 without undermining its development ambitions. It also provides assessment on technical, financial and institutional and governance frameworks needed for these climate transitions. Most importantly, it attempts to capture the centrality of people in climate policies by assessing how climate risks affect lives and livelihoods, and ways in which governments can build resilience and address poverty, distributional and job impact of climate change and climate actions. Lastly, it sheds lights on ways for Pakistan to galvanize cooperation between public and private sectors and support from international communities.
On Monday, Belgium’s Minister for Development Cooperation Frank Vandenbroucke said the country would provide €2.5 million (around US$2.5 million) in loss and damage funding for Mozambique, with the money expected to provide the climate-vulnerable East African nation with storm warning systems and advanced intel on at-risk coastal areas.
Austria’s Climate Ministry announced it would allocate €50 million from its existing budget over the next four years to fund loss and damage in the world’s most vulnerable countries, with Climate Minister Leonore Gewessler claiming her country was “becoming a pioneer in international climate financing.”
New Zealand joined Belgium and Austria, committing NZ$20 million (almost US$12 million) to loss and damage globally.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany would provide €170 million to the Global Shield Against Climate Risks initiative — a fund dedicated to providing climate risk insurance and prevention support for at-risk nations. Just over €80 million will be devoted to the “central financing structure” of the shield, with the rest for “complementary” climate risk programs.
On Wednesday, Canada joined Belgium, Austria, New Zealand, and Germany by redefining its climate spending, announcing that $24 million (about US$18 million) from the nation’s former $5.3 billion International Climate Finance Commitment would be dedicated to the “needs and priorities of developing countries.”
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland Micheál Martin committed €10 million to the Global Shield initiative.
In the run-up to COP27, India had said the MWP cannot be allowed to "change the goal posts" set by the Paris Agreement
Supported by other developing countries, India blocked an attempt by rich nations to focus on all top 20 emitters of carbon dioxide during discussions on the 'Mitigation Work Programme' at the ongoing U.N. climate summit in Egypt, sources said on Monday.
During the first week of the climate talks, developed countries desired that all top 20 emitters, including India and China, discuss intense emission cuts and not just the rich nations which are historically responsible for climate change, they said.
There are developing countries in the top 20 emitters, including India, that are not responsible for warming that has already occurred.
According to the sources, India pushed back the attempt with the support of like-minded developing countries, including China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.
The "MWP should not lead to the reopening of the Paris Agreement" which clearly mentions that climate commitments of countries have to be nationally determined based on circumstances, India and other developing countries reportedly said.
At COP26 in Glasgow last year, parties acknowledged that a 45% reduction in global CO2 emissions by 2030 (as compared to 2010 levels) is required to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius.
Accordingly, they agreed to develop a Mitigation Work Programme (MWP) to "urgently scale up mitigation ambition and implementation". Mitigation means reducing emissions, ambition means setting stronger targets and implementation means meeting new and existing goals.
Coming into COP27, developing countries had raised concerns that rich nations, through the MWP, will push them to revise their climate targets without enhancing the supply of technology and finance.
In the run-up to COP27, India had said the MWP cannot be allowed to "change the goal posts" set by the Paris Agreement.
"In the Mitigation Work Programme, best practices, new technologies and new modes of collaboration for technology transfer and capacity building may be discussed fruitfully," the Union Environment Ministry had said.
An analysis by Carbon Brief shows the U.S. has released more than 509 Gt CO2 since 1850 and is responsible for the largest share of historical emissions, with some 20% of the global total. China is a relatively distant second, with 11%, followed by Russia (7%). India is in seventh place, with 3.4% of the cumulative total.
Earth's global surface temperature has increased by around 1.15 degree Celsius as compared to the pre-industrial (1850–1900) average and the CO2 spewed into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution is closely tied to it. Major damage had already been done before 1990 when economies like India started to develop.
According to "Global Carbon Budget Report 2022", more than half of the world's CO2 emissions in 2021 were from three places — China (31%), the U.S. (14%), and the European Union (8%). At the fourth spot, India accounted for 7% of the global CO2 emissions.
However, at 2.4 tCO2e (tonne carbon dioxide equivalent), India's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are far below the world average of 6.3 tCO2e, according to a report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) last month.
Per capita emissions in the U.S. (14 tCO2e) are far above the global average, followed by Russia (13 tCO2e), China (9.7 tCO2e), Brazil and Indonesia (around 7.5 tCO2e each), and the European Union (7.2 tCO2e).
By Ani Dasgupta
Mr. Dasgupta is the president and C.E.O. of the World Resources Institute.
SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt — The climate crisis has reached new levels of devastation this year for millions of people in vulnerable countries that didn’t cause the problem. Floods in Pakistan, drought in the Horn of Africa and hurricanes in the Dominican Republic — all intensified by climate change — have ruined people’s livelihoods, causing losses so immense that it is hard for many in richer countries to even fathom.
For nearly three decades, the countries most vulnerable to climate disasters have asked wealthy countries to help them pay for the damage, only to be stonewalled.
At the annual United Nations climate conference this week, the issue is formally on the agenda, a breakthrough in itself. Encouragingly a smattering of wealthy countries, including Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Ireland, Belgium and Denmark, have started to pledge money — albeit small amounts.
These contributions are welcome, although some of the pledges reallocate funds from other pots of climate finance, or are putting money toward insurance, or early warning systems — not the kind of funding that poorer countries seek.
What these countries have been calling for, and urgently need, is a collective funding stream within the United Nations that helps them recover from devastating losses from disasters, rising seas and other climate impacts.
The United States and European Union must get behind this movement now. Specific details on how much money, where it comes from, who gets it and what qualifies take time to work out. But what’s critical at the current climate conference is that wealthy countries agree to a process, with clear deadlines, to pay for the damage.
It’s not a matter of charity. Taking action is firmly in rich countries’ own interests. As climate change bears down, more factories and ports around the world — the ones that wealthy nations rely on for their phones, car parts, fast fashion and even food — will close, devastating global supply chains. Food prices will rise. More people will be displaced, leading to additional migration crises. Conflict will grow more likely as people fight over land and water. The repercussions will destabilize even the most robust economies. Preventing that outcome now, by financing recovery from climate damage, will ensure a more stable future for everyone.
This kind of funding is called “loss and damage,” and it is meant to address climate impacts that people can’t simply adapt to. The concept may seem wonky, but it’s not: Loss has a name. Damage has an address.
Where do the millions in Pakistan turn now that they’ve been displaced by floods? What do small farmers in Kenya do when a prolonged drought makes it impossible to grow crops to feed their families? All over the world, people are facing excruciating decisions every day.
Rich countries generally have the resources to weather these climate impacts. In the United States last year, 54 percent of disaster-related losses were insured, compared to just 3 percent on average in the world’s 77 poorest countries.
By Ani Dasgupta
Mr. Dasgupta is the president and C.E.O. of the World Resources Institute.
The United States and European Union have rejected or stalled on this kind of financial assistance, raising concerns that committing funds for climate loss and damage could seem like an admission of guilt, and open the door to a flood of lawsuits. But the 2015 Paris agreement should already have put that concern to rest, since it makes clear that “averting, minimizing and addressing” loss and damage “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation.”
Some developed countries claim that humanitarian aid already meets the need. It does not. Humanitarian aid provides immediate shelter and food relief after a disaster strikes, but is not available, for example, to the Fijian islander who must relocate because of rising seas, or the fisherman in Palau whose livelihood evaporates after tuna migrate to cooler waters.
The initial loss and damage commitments are politically important. Yet the need is exponentially greater — these costs worldwide could reach $290 billion to $580 billion in 2030, according to one estimate.
A new fund to hold parties responsible could change the lives of billions of people on the front lines of climate change, offering a path to recovery where none exists today. When a cyclone hits, a government could quickly apply for funding and distribute it to help people rebuild destroyed homes. For continuing issues like droughts, the money could help farmers diversify their skills when their original livelihoods are no longer viable. But it could also improve the lives of people in wealthy countries, by building resilience to global supply chains, by stabilizing the economies where their businesses import and export goods, by creating the conditions for a more peaceful world.
As Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said this week at the conference, “Countries in the Global North that have caused climate change and have the greatest access to resources have an obligation to step up.”
Any more stonewalling by wealthy nations on finance for loss and damage could derail the entire climate negotiations here in Egypt. The world’s ability to tackle climate change hinges on trust between developed and developing countries, and without concrete progress to address these severe losses and damage, that trust risks being broken.
As people continue to return to their places of origin and with the winter season approaching, the vulnerabilities of the flood-affected people are further heightened with an immediate need for adequate shelter, food items and tents.
More than 5.1 million women are of reproductive age, including an estimated 410,846 pregnant women. Approximately 136,950 births are expected in the next three months.
A comparison of pre-flood (June) and post-flood (September) prices of some food commodities indicates a huge increase in prices.
As of 11 November, humanitarian partners have reached 7.9 million people with life-saving assistance in flood-affected areas.
Vector-borne and water-borne diseases remain a major concern in flood-affected areas. Around 1,000 confirmed cholera cases and 64,767 dengue fever cases, with 147 deaths, have been reported.
Over the past few weeks, flooded waters have continued to recede in many flood-affected areas across Pakistan, although vast volumes of persistent flood waters remain stagnant in many places, particularly Sindh and Balochistan provinces. Based on observations by the United Nations (UN) Satellite Centre between 03 October and 09 October 2022 and compared with observations between 11 and 17 October 2022, the overall flood water continues to decrease with approximately 200 km2 in Balochistan, 100km2 in Punjab and 4000 km2 in Sindh. According to the latest data, large parts of Kashmore, Jacobabad, Mirpurkhas and Sanghar in Sindh observed significant water reduction. In most affected districts of Sindh, local governments are de-watering land to allow people to resume their livelihoods.
In the flood-impacted areas, many households rely on agriculture and livestock production for their livelihoods, and damage to these sectors will have a major impact on food security and the agriculture sector in the coming months. According to information from the field, farmers reported debt of around PKR 100,000-150,000 on average due to damages to their crops. Most of the Kharif season crop damage occurred in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, and most of the livestock losses occurred in Balochistan, Sindh, and Punjab.
The uncertain economic situation in the country, exacerbated by the heavy monsoon floods, is creating significant challenges to local ecosystems and food supply chains. According to World Food Program (WFP), a comparison of pre-flood (June) and post-flood (September) prices of some food commodities indicated a huge increase in prices - wheat flour 32%, pulse moong 57%, tomatoes 138%, potatoes 45%, and onions 44%. In September alone, prices increased for staple cereals, including wheat flour (+17.2%), wheat (+10.2%), rice Irri-6 (+7.9%), and rice Basmati (+2.3%) compared to August 2022. As for non-cereal food commodities, the trend remains - a significant increase was noted in the average retail prices of pulse Moong (18.6%), live chicken (14.1%), eggs (13.8%), pulses Gram (6.7%) and Mash (6.5%).
Cases of water and vector-borne diseases and acute respiratory illnesses, especially among children and older adults, remain a key public health challenge in flood-affected areas of Sindh and Balochistan. As of 8 November, according to World Health Organization (WHO), around 8 million flood-affected people need health assistance, including the provision of essential medical supplies and access to essential health care. As the displaced people return to their places of origin, they face an increased risk of disease transmission driven by damaged infrastructure, stagnant water, and inadequate sanitation facilities.
Cases of water and vector-borne diseases and acute respiratory illnesses, especially among children and older adults, remain a key public health challenge in flood-affected areas of Sindh and Balochistan. As of 8 November, according to World Health Organization (WHO), around 8 million flood-affected people need health assistance, including the provision of essential medical supplies and access to essential health care. As the displaced people return to their places of origin, they face an increased risk of disease transmission driven by damaged infrastructure, stagnant water, and inadequate sanitation facilities. Since the beginning of the year, around 1,000 confirmed cholera cases and 64,767 dengue fever cases, with 147 deaths, have been reported. Furthermore, according to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), as of 10 November, more than 5.1 million women are of reproductive age (15-49 years), including an estimated 410,846 women who are currently pregnant, with approximately 136,950 births expected in the next three months. For these women, there is a need to strengthen health systems, train health workers, educate midwives and improve access to the full range of reproductive health services.
Water, sanitation and hygiene face heightened challenges due to the destruction of water infrastructure and low availability of clean water for bathing, cooking and drinking, with families resorting to contaminated water for daily use. Even before the floods, according to the World Bank, the country faced high water shortage risks for non-agricultural purposes. Under a high-growth (4.9 per cent per year) and high-warming (3°C by 2047) scenario, water demand is projected to increase by almost 60 per cent, with the highest rates of the increase coming from the domestic and industrial sectors. Climate warming will account for up to 15 per cent of this increase in demand. Moreover, climate-related shocks like the current floods will continue to put additional strain on access to safe water for communities.
As of 11 November, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has recorded 1,739 deaths and 12,867 injuries since mid-June. In addition, more than 2.2 million houses have been damaged or destroyed, 13,115 kilometres of roads damaged, 439 bridges destroyed, and over 1.1 million livestock lost. Furthermore, as the winter season in many of the affected areas is approaching fast, the vulnerabilities of the flood-affected people are further heightened with the immediate need for shelter, food items and non-food items.
The Global Shield, coordinated by G7 president Germany, aims to provide rapid access for climate-vulnerable countries to insurance and disaster protection funding after floods or drought. It is being developed in collaboration with the 'V20' group of 58 climate vulnerable economies.
A statement issued by Germany on Monday listed Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, Pakistan, the Philippines and Senegal as some of the initial recipients of Global Shield packages.
Those packages would be developed in the coming months, Germany said.
Called Global Shield, the new mechanism is backed by the V20 group of climate-vulnerable nations and will initially receive more than €200 million ($206m) in funding, mostly from Germany.
At Cop27, the issue of loss and damage was listed on the agenda for the first time ever at a UN climate conference.
Climate-vulnerable countries say wealthy industrialised nations should help to pay for irreversible damage from floods, storms and rising seas, after decades of emissions caused global temperatures to rise.
The Global Shield, co-ordinated by G7 president Germany, aims to provide climate-vulnerable countries with rapid access to insurance and disaster protection funding after floods or drought.
It is being developed in collaboration with 58 climate-vulnerable economies to bring together climate risk finance and preparedness.
The fund will both help nations prepare for climate change and respond to natural disasters sparked by rising temperatures.
"Climate-related disasters have devastating impacts on poor people in particular," said Svenja Schulze, Germany's Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.
"They often do not have the means to protect themselves and their homes, fields or businesses against extreme weather and can lose their entire possessions when a disaster strikes."
She stressed that the scheme was not "a tactic" to sidestep calls for a specific loss and damage funding mechanism.
"The Global Shield isn't the one and only solution for loss and damage, certainly not," she said, adding that more funding will be needed to cover more countries.
"Those most affected by climate impacts need practical action now."
Ireland's Taoiseach Micheal Martin also committed €10 million, telling the gathered diplomats and world leaders that what were "once exceptional events are now occurring with increased frequency and ferocity. People in the poorest parts of our planet are being driven from regions that can no longer support and sustain them”.
France stumped up an initial $20 million, saying its total commitment would be $60 million over three years. Canada and Denmark will contribute $7 million and $4.7 million respectively.
US President Joe Biden has also backed the plan.
As the conference continues, Germany will be hoping for more contributions, but some are sceptical.
EU negotiator Jacob Werksman said talks were not ready to agree on a single funding solution, but he hoped the Cop27 summit would achieve more than just scheduling further talks on climate compensation.
"We don't think that this process is ready to agree in principle that a new fund or facility is the right or the only way forward," he said.
A statement issued by Germany on Monday listed Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, Pakistan, the Philippines and Senegal as some of the initial recipients of Global Shield packages, although 58 nations are in talks over the programme.
Those packages would be developed in the coming months, Germany said.
A statement issued by Germany on Monday listed Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, Pakistan, the Philippines and Senegal as some of the initial recipients of Global Shield packages, although 58 nations are in talks over the programme.
Those packages would be developed in the coming months, Germany said.
Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta called it “a path-breaking effort” that would help protect communities when lives and livelihoods are lost.
But civil society groups were sceptical, warning that the programme should not be used as a way to distract from the much broader effort to get big polluters to pay for the loss and damage they have already caused with their greenhouse gases.
Poorer, vulnerable nations also want financing to help them shift to clean energy and for projects to adapt to global warming.
Teresa Anderson of ActionAid International said the scheme showed that the global community recognised the need to act on loss and damage, but said it was a "distraction" from negotiations on a dedicated funding mechanism for climate damages.
"Everyone knows that insurance companies, by their very nature, are either reluctant to provide coverage, or reluctant to pay out," she said. "But when it comes to loss and damage, this is a matter of life and death."
In the dusty plains of present-day Sindh in southern Pakistan lie the remains of one of the world's most impressive ancient cities (Moenjo-Daro)that most people have never heard of.
Now, several thousand years later, the city is once again in danger after devastating super floods hit Pakistan in August 2022. Dr Asma Ibrahim, an archaeologist and museologist who's been involved in preservation work all over the country, confirmed that while Mohenjo-daro had been damaged, the flooding to the site was less than archaeologists had originally feared.
I was about an hour outside of the dusty town of Larkana in southern Pakistan at the historical site of Mohenjo-daro. While today only ruins remain, 4,500 years ago this was not only one of the world's earliest cities, but a thriving metropolis featuring highly advanced infrastructures.
Mohenjo-daro – which means "mound of the dead men" in Sindhi – was the largest city of the once-flourishing Indus Valley (also known as Harappan) Civilisation that ruled from north-east Afghanistan to north-west India during the Bronze Age. Believed to have been inhabited by at least 40,000 people, Mohenjo-daro prospered from 2500 to 1700 BCE.
"It was an urban centre that had social, cultural, economic and religious linkages with Mesopotamia and Egypt," explained Irshad Ali Solangi, a local guide who is the third generation of his family to work at Mohenjo-daro.
But compared to the cities of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which thrived around the same time, few have heard of Mohenjo-daro. By 1700 BCE, it was abandoned, and to this day, no-one is sure exactly why the inhabitants left or where they went.
Archaeologists first came across the ancient city in 1911 after hearing reports of some brickwork in the area. However, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) dismissed the bricks as not having any kind of antiquity and the site remained undisturbed for several more years. It wasn't until 1922 that R D Banerji, an ASI officer, believed he saw a buried stupa, a mound-like structure where Buddhists typically meditate. This led to large-scale excavations – most notably by British archaeologist Sir John Marshall – and the eventual naming of Mohenjo-daro as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1980. The remains they uncovered revealed a level of urbanisation not previously seen in history, with Unesco lauding Mohenjo-daro as the "best preserved" ruin of the Indus Valley.
Perhaps the city's most surprising feature was a sanitation system that was far beyond its contemporaries. While drainage and private toilets were seen in Egypt and Mesopotamia, they were luxuries of the rich. In Mohenjo-daro, concealed toilets and covered drains were everywhere. Since excavations began, more than 700 wells have been recovered, in addition to a system of private baths, including a 12m x 7m "Great Bath" for communal use. Incredibly, toilets were found in many private residences, and waste was covertly disposed of through a sophisticated, city-wide sewage system.
Mohenjo-daro's ability to master the arts of sanitation and sewage disposal were not the only advanced features that set the inhabitants apart from other early civilisations. Archaeologists have noted the use of standardised building materials, despite a dearth of machines.
"All the bricks have a ratio of 4:2:1, even if they are not of the same shape," Rizvi explained. "It's important to recognise that all these bricks are following a sensibility of sorts. There's a sense of what they want their city to look like. If you make everything to a ratio, even the spaces that you are walking through then inherently follow a certain sensibility of a ratio as well."
FEDERICA SAINI FASANOTTI
Extreme weather events are likely to become the main cause behind waves of immigration toward Europe.
urricane Ian, which disrupted the lives of millions when it swept over the Gulf of Mexico in late September this year, will not soon be forgotten. Torrential rains and winds of up to 240 kilometers per hour produced an extraordinary surge that flooded not only coastal areas but also their hinterland.
At the same time, Typhoon Noru was slamming into the Philippines. Earlier this year, Hurricane Fiona formed near Puerto Rico and hit Canada with unprecedented force, and Typhoon Nanmadol drove 9 million people to evacuate from their homes in Japan. Typhoon Merbok devastated Alaska with waves more than 50 feet high. Pakistan saw dramatic floods, aggravated by melting local glaciers. Leaving as much as one third of the country underwater, and more than 1,600 people and 800,000 livestock dead, the disaster will change the face of Pakistan for decades. The United Nations has called these phenomena the footprint of climate change.
Although Africa’s 54 states have not contributed significantly to the global emissions that accelerated climate change, the continent is one of the hardest hit. Desertification, dust storms and rising sea levels are poised to wreak havoc on large segments of the African populace.
By 2100, Africa is expected to account for 40 percent of the global population, which will grow to 11 billion. There will likely be 2.5 billion Africans by 2050. Amar Bhattacharya of the Brookings Institution writes that this growth will require an extraordinary increase in investment in “three critical areas: energy transitions and related investments in sustainable infrastructure; investments in climate change adaptation and resilience; and restoration of natural capital (through agriculture, food and land use practices) and biodiversity. … Altogether, Africa will need to invest around $200 billion per year by 2025 and close to $400 billion per year by 2030 on these priorities.”
African governments will be the first line of defense to safeguard the continent’s biological heritage, such as the rainforest of the Congo River Basin, which like the Amazon is crucial to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Africa’s worst climate-related changes in recent decades are not hurricanes, but rather a persistent drought. The near extinction of Lake Chad is a prime example, as are the widening of the Sahel desert belt southward and the increasingly long periods without rain throughout the Maghreb. The population will grow but rainfall will decrease, thus rapidly shrinking the amount of arable land. And temperatures will rise – in a continent where only half of the 1.2 billion residents have access to electricity.
If these trends continue unchecked, much of Africa will ultimately become uninhabitable. In the Lake Chad basin, 5.3 million people (mostly fishermen and farmers) were displaced by climate-related changes. Experts predict that Africa’s glaciers will disappear: those of Mount Kenya by 2030 and those of Mount Kilimanjaro by 2040.
Already, small rural communities in the Maghreb struggle to produce enough to subsist. The same goes for intensive agriculture, which in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, generates up to a fifth of gross domestic product. Even slight disruptions will have exponential effects on those societies.
By increasing aid to Pakistan, the United States will propel forward its own strategic interests and fulfill humanitarian obligations while simultaneously helping this South Asian nation avert crisis.
Blog Post by Andrew Gordan, Guest Contributor
Pakistan faces a grave and growing crisis. In late summer, historic floods ravaged the South Asian nation, submerging a third of the country under water and displacing millions. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s economy has reached a breaking point and political unrest threatens to throw the nation into further disarray. At the climax of the floods, international media covered the disaster extensively and donor countries—including the United States—rushed in with pledges of assistance. As of November 2022, the United States has delivered $97 million in aid to Pakistan. However, this figure barely registers on the scale of Pakistan’s recovery requirements, estimated at $40 billion. Increasing assistance will not only avert the deepening crisis in Pakistan and fulfill U.S. humanitarian obligations, but will also serve U.S. strategic interests.
The scale of Pakistan’s predicament cannot be understated. Over 1,500 people died and 12,000 were injured in the summer floods. Infrastructure across Pakistan was crippled: thousands of kilometers of road and hundreds of bridges were destroyed, as well as almost two million homes.
Adding pressure in crisis, Pakistan is suffering from high inflation—roughly 26 percent year-on-year in October 2022—and low foreign exchange reserves. As prices for liquified natural gas skyrocket with the war in Ukraine, Pakistan is struggling to secure essential imports. The resumption of International Monetary Fund (IMF) funding in August has done little to plug the gaps. While bilateral creditors have offered debt relief, this is largely confined to allowing the postponement of payments in the short-term and the forgiveness of small amounts of debt.
Political tensions have also added to the challenges in Pakistan, hampering government capacity. After his ouster by a vote of no-confidence in April, former Prime Minister Imran Khan has consolidated his political popularity, challenged the sitting government to hold early elections, and survived an assassination attempt on November 3.
The severity of these converging obstacles underscores the need for adequate U.S. aid to Pakistan. Unfortunately, these days Pakistan has few friends in Washington. Many U.S. observers have accused Pakistan of enabling the Afghan Taliban throughout the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In addition, advocates of the budding U.S.-India relationship worry that engagement with Pakistan might disrupt ties with the Modi administration. Concerns about corruption have also tarnished attempts to build support for more aid.
Despite these concerns, the United States should act to alleviate the crisis in Pakistan. On one hand, if the United States wants to honor its commitments to humanitarianism, aid to Pakistan should be a top moral priority. The Biden administration has pledged to “rally the world to meet our common challenges.” The destructive effects of climate change that Pakistan is suffering today is a common challenge. Furthermore, norms of environmental justice compel countries who built their riches on the degradation of the environment, like the United States, to help Pakistan, one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations and a negligible contributor to historical global emissions.
On the other hand, even American pragmatists should heed Pakistan’s need for aid. Catastrophe in Pakistan is not in the U.S. national interest. A destabilized Pakistan would spell disaster for regional security: a depleted Pakistani government would inevitably give regional militant groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan more breathing room. In addition, a Pakistan in crisis would likely be less capable of performing its role at the center of the new U.S. “over-the-horizon” counter-terrorism strategy. Operations like the recent U.S. killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri require Pakistani support, coordination, and airspace. Finally, as the United States seeks to counterbalance Chinese influence in South Asia, increased aid could capitalize on growing reservations in Pakistan about the tight-knit economic relationship with China.
So how should the United States assist Pakistan? For starters, the overall level of assistance should increase dramatically, as the $97 million pledged thus far will have a minimal impact on Pakistan’s predicament. The United States can help with the flood recovery in other ways: technical teams to support the construction of climate-resilient infrastructure and health supplies to address growing outbreaks of waterborne diseases, for example. The United States can also do more to address Pakistan’s financial health. The recent rollover of the suspension of payments on $132 million in debt was a good start, but the United States must continue to rally international debtors to suspend and restructure Pakistani debt, replenish foreign exchange reserves, and support crucial imports. The future of the South Asian nation, and U.S. regional interests, depend on it.
Expressing concern over the draft decision text on the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, India said developed countries are blocking a pro-poor and pro-farmer decision by insisting on expanding the scope for mitigation to agriculture, thereby compromising the very foundation of food security in the world, a source in the Indian delegation said.
In most developing countries across the world, agriculture is done by small and marginal farmers who toil hard and brave the vagaries of extreme weather and climate variability as well as the additional stress of climate change.
A promise from the developed world to foot more of the climate bill has raised fresh hopes of breakthrough at the UN climate summit COP27.
Nations meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, worked late into Thursday night to find agreement over what has been the biggest sticking point.
The European Union has suggested a new fund to help poor nations deal with climate disaster.
Developing nations insist they will push for the best deal on the table.
Vulnerable nations including Pakistan, which leads developing countries here, say richer nations owe this money because they historically released most of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
The devastating floods in Pakistan this summer, which killed about 1,700 people, have been a powerful backdrop to talks in Egypt.
But rich nations are worried about signing a blank cheque. At the start of the summit, the US was adamant there would be no new fund, and it has been silent in negotiations, observers say.
In a possible breakthrough on Friday morning, the European Union proposed a special fund that would be funded by a "broad donor base".
That suggests that China, a country which now emits large amounts of greenhouse gases (those gases that warm the atmosphere), could contribute too.
China is usually in the same group as developing nations, and historically contributed little to global warming. But this fund could call on them to help pay the bill.
"It's great to see some leadership finally, but we'll see what we get out of this," Nisha Krishnan from the World Resources Institute told BBC News.
The EU's proposal "comes with strings attached" and it is not supported by all developing nations, says Prof Michael Wilkins at Imperial College Business School in London.
The question of this money, known as loss and damage, has dominated COP27. Nations at severe risk from climate disaster were pleased to get it on the agenda, after 30 years of trying.
The deal is not yet over the line.
Talking about the funding, Ms Krishnan said "this is the biggest thing that could make or break this conversation".
It will be important to see what the US does as well as China, she suggests.
Outside of the negotiation rooms, NGOs and activists continue to call for much stronger promises from COP27 on getting rid of fossil fuels.
SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt—A deal was struck at United Nations climate talks on Saturday to set up a fund that would pay for climate-related damage in countries deemed particularly vulnerable, officials said, handing a victory to poorer nations that have pushed for the move for years and removing a major sticking point in broader negotiations to address global warming.
The fund would earmark money for what is known as loss and damage: When rising seas, more powerful storms and other effects that scientists link to climate change cause destruction that is sudden or potentially irreparable.
Negotiators representing developed and developing countries agreed to the measure in the final hours of the COP27 U.N. climate summit held in this Egyptian seaside resort. Officials cautioned that the deal on loss and damage was part of a broader agreement that is still under negotiation. Wealthy nations want stronger commitments from developing countries to cut emissions in the coming decade in hopes of meeting the climate targets of the Paris accord. Those call for governments to limit temperature increases to well under 2 degrees Celsius and preferably 1.5 degrees compared with the preindustrial era.
The fund would be targeted toward poorer countries deemed most vulnerable, delegates said, a key demand from wealthy nations that didn’t want money flowing to China and other higher-income countries that are deemed to be developing under the U.N. climate treaty. As part of the process for creating the fund, countries would identify new sources of financing, officials said. Wealthy countries want China, oil-rich Persian Gulf states and other higher-income countries in the developing world to contribute.
Small island countries and low-lying nations such as Bangladesh have for decades sought money to pay for loss and damage. Wealthy countries, which are responsible for most of the greenhouse-gas emissions that have caused the earth to warm, have long resisted, fearing that agreeing to make payments would leave their governments and companies at risk of lawsuits.
A senior Biden administration official said Saturday’s deal wouldn’t create legal liability.
Heading into the talks, the U.S., Europe and other rich nations said that a new fund wasn’t necessary and that money for loss and damage can flow through existing institutions that provide climate finance for the developing world.
European negotiators asked whether that was the position of AOSIS, whose members are also members of the Group of 77. The Maldives’ environment minister, representing AOSIS, asked for a 30 minute break to discuss the issue with the Group of 77.
Negotiators from the two groups returned to the room saying they were willing to support a fund that would be targeted to particularly vulnerable countries as the EU wanted.
In recent years, the demand for a separate fund became a rallying cry for poorer countries seen as most vulnerable to climate change. Many developing countries have pointed to the scale of monsoon rains and floods in Pakistan this year, which have left the country with losses and rebuilding costs assessed by the government and World Bank at $30 billion, as an example of what vulnerable countries could increasingly contend with. Less than half of Pakistan’s $816 million international emergency appeal has been funded.
“Pakistan, which spearheaded a group of 134 developing nations pushing for loss and damage payments, provided a fresh reminder of the destructive forces of climate change.”
After 30 years of deadlock, a new U.N. climate agreement aims to pay developing countries for loss and damage caused by global warming. But huge questions remain about how it would work.
SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt — Negotiators from nearly 200 countries agreed for the first time to establish a fund that would help poor, vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters made worse by the pollution spewed by wealthy nations that is dangerously heating the planet.
The decision regarding payments for climate damage marked a breakthrough on one of the most contentious issues at United Nations climate negotiations. For more than three decades, developing nations have pressed for loss and damage money, asking rich, industrialized countries to provide compensation for the costs of destructive storms, heat waves and droughts fueled by global warming.
But the United States and other wealthy countries have long blocked the idea, for fear that they could be held legally liable for the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.
The agreement hammered out in this Red Sea resort town says nations cannot be held legally liable for payments. The deal calls for a committee with representatives from 24 countries to work over the next year to figure out exactly what form the fund should take, which countries should contribute and where the money should go. Many of the other details are still to be determined.
The creation of the a loss and damage fund was almost derailed by disputes that ran into the dawn hours of Sunday over other elements of a broader agreement, including how deeply countries should cut their emissions and whether to include language that explicitly called for a phaseout of fossil fuels, including coal, natural gas and oil. By 5 a.m. in Egypt, negotiators were still debating those other measures.
Developing nations — largely from Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and South Pacific — fought first to place the loss and damage fund on the formal agenda of the two-week summit. And then they were relentless in their pressure campaign, arguing that it was a matter of justice, noting they did little to contribute to a crisis that threatens their existence. They made it clear that a summit held on the African continent that ended without addressing loss and damage would be seen as a moral failure.
“The announcement offers hope to vulnerable communities all over the world who are fighting for their survival from climate stress,” said Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s minister for climate change. “And gives some credibility to the COP process.”
Pakistan, which spearheaded a group of 134 developing nations pushing for loss and damage payments, provided a fresh reminder of the destructive forces of climate change. Over the summer, Pakistan suffered devastating flooding that scientists say was made worse by global warming, resulting in more than 1,500 deaths, plunging one-third of the country underwater and causing $30 billion in damages, even as Pakistan contributes less than 1 percent of the world’s planet-warming emissions.
As the summit was nearing an end, the European Union consented to the idea of a loss and damage fund, though it insisted that any aid should be focused on the most vulnerable nations, and that aid might include a wide variety of options such as new insurance programs in addition to direct payments.
With the deadly devastation fresh in the world’s mind, Pakistan pushed for damage funds with other frontline countries
In early September, after unprecedented rainfall had left a third of Pakistan under water, its climate change minister set out the country’s stall for Cop27. “We are on the frontline and intend to keep loss and damage and adapting to climate catastrophes at the core of our arguments and negotiations. There will be no moving away from that,” Sherry Rehman said.
Pakistan brought that resolve to the negotiations in Sharm el-Sheikh and, as president of the G77 plus China negotiating bloc, succeeded in keeping developing countries united on loss and damage – despite efforts by some rich countries to divide them. Its chief negotiator, Nabeel Munir, a career diplomat, was backed by a team of savvy veteran negotiators who had witnessed the devastation and suffering from the floods, which caused $30bn (£25bn) of damage and economic losses. Every day, Munir repeated the same message: “Loss and damage is not charity, it’s about climate justice.”
It was the first time the G77, which includes a diverse range of countries with an array of climate, economic and security challenges, had shown such unity since 2009, when they rejected the Copenhagen accord at Cop15, according to Asad Rehman, of the UK charity War on Want. “Without the leadership of Pakistan, we wouldn’t have the outcome,” he said. “Their diplomats are experienced in maintaining G77 discipline and unity, and prevented attempts by the EU and others to turn the least developed countries group and the Alliance of Small Island States against the other countries and accept a narrow fund.”
Meena Raman, the director of Third World Network and an expert on the UN climate summits, agreed: “We saw attempts to split the G77, with overtures made by the rich countries to the vulnerable 20, in an effort to put pressure on countries like China and India to contribute to the fund. We have seen such divide-and-control efforts time and time again. But when the G77 remains strong, we get good outcomes; if they are divided, developing countries lose.”
Despite the multitude of disappointments at Cop27, failing on loss and damage was not an option, according to Munir. “Our resolve came from seeing the victims of the catastrophic floods that we faced,” he said. “The thought that it might not happen came many times, but the whole country – and developing world – was watching us and we couldn’t fail them.”
But Pakistani officials cannot take all the credit. Zaheer Fakir, a South African negotiator, singled out the Egyptian diplomat Mohamed Nasr for getting loss and damage over the line. “He was doing the consultations with all the groups [parties] and fixing the cover [final] decision,” he said.
Fakir cautioned against premature celebrations. “It’s not really a victory yet. All that was decided has been the establishment of funding arrangements and the fund … [There are] no specific contributions or notion on size, which will need to be unpacked.”
Civil society pressure was critical in building and unifying momentum around loss and damage since Cop26 in Glasgow, as part of the growing campaign for climate justice.
Despite Egypt’s best efforts to silence dissent, small but powerful protests demanding climate justice took place almost every day inside the negotiating zone, and the world’s media broadcast activists and experts calling out the US, UK, EU and other world leaders.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's timely finalisation of a recovery plan from devastating floods is essential to support discussions and continued financial support from multilateral and bilateral partners, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Wednesday.
Pakistan was already battling a full-blown economic crisis, with decades-high inflation and dwindling foreign exchange reserves, when it was hit by floods earlier this year. It had entered a $6 billion IMF bailout programme in 2019, and the ninth review is currently pending.
"The timely finalization of the recovery plan is essential to support the discussions, along with continuing financial support from multilateral and bilateral partners," IMF resident representative Esther Perez Ruiz said in a message to Reuters.
She added that IMF staff is continuing discussions with Pakistani authorities over policies to reprioritize and better target support toward humanitarian needs, while accelerating reform efforts to preserve economic and fiscal sustainability.
Devastating floods killed more than 1,700 people and inflicted billions of dollars of damage. Pakistani authorities' estimates of the damage have varied from $10 billion to $40 billion.
Pakistan's finance ministry said last week that it would "expeditiously" finish technical engagement with the IMF as part of the ninth review of the programme, but a firm date for the review completion is yet to be announced.
The funds will be a lifeline for the South Asian nation, which is struggling to convince international markets and ratings agencies that it has the funds to meet external financing requirements, including debt repayments.
Pakistan has a $1 billion international bond repayment due early next month. Its total foreign reserves with the central bank stood at $7.9 billion as of last week.
(Reporting by Gibran Peshimam; Editing by William Maclean and Leslie Adler)
A country not known for leadership at home provides some abroad
Pakistan is not often praised for its leadership. Yet its climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, was one of the star turns at the un climate talks held in Sharm el-Sheikh last week. At the helm of the “g77+China” negotiating group of developing countries, Ms Rehman won plaudits for shepherding a new deal to channel money from rich countries to poor ones that have suffered climate-related disasters. It was the annual climate jamboree’s single main achievement.
Ms Rehman, a former journalist, information minister and ambassador to America, blends well-heeled glamour and toughness. A rare champion of Pakistani liberalism, the 61-year-old Karachiite is known for her fights against honour killings and the country’s cruel blasphemy laws. They have earned her multiple death threats. She also bears scars from a suicide blast aimed at her friend Benazir Bhutto (the former prime minister survived that jihadist attack, but not one weeks later). By comparison, the talks in Sharm el-Sheikh must have seemed like the holiday camp that the Egyptian town usually is.
Yet Ms Rehman was also assisted by the fact that the massive floods Pakistan suffered this year, costing an estimated $30bn in damages, are one of the biggest climate-related disasters on record. They gave moral authority to her argument that poor countries should receive “loss and damage” funds from the rich countries whose emissions have contributed to such calamities. A study attributes the engorged monsoon floods in part to global warming. Yet Pakistan is responsible for less than 1% of the stock of global emissions.
Pakistani environmental activists, a subset of the country’s embattled liberal campaigners, hope Ms Rehman’s triumph will stir more climate action back home. It had been modestly increasing before the floods—with, for example, a few cases in which activists sued the government for neglecting its environmental commitments. Yet Pakistan’s climate change ministry is vastly underfunded. Just $43m were allocated to it this year from a federal budget of $47bn. A proposed national climate change authority has yet to be formed, five years after a law was passed to facilitate it. Pakistan, which experiences some of the hottest temperatures on Earth, has only just begun serious work on a national adaptation plan.
The floods helped publicise such shortcomings. Pakistan’s few climate experts were suddenly hot property on the country’s news channels. But will that focus be maintained? As the government scrambles to provide flood relief, it is giving little thought to climate-proofing against future disasters. Before the floods, Ms Rehman was pushing a $11bn-17bn initiative to regenerate the Indus river that supports the livelihoods, indirectly or directly, of over 200m people. But funds that might have been earmarked for the programme are now going on flood relief.
The heightened global attention she has brought to Pakistan’s flood losses could attract a lot more money and relevant expertise. That could make the country a poster child not only for loss-and-damage activism but, more usefully, for long-term planning and climate resilience. There is a precedent for this. After a devastating cyclone in 1970 Bangladesh built one of the world’s best disaster preparedness schemes. A tragic, likelier scenario would see the momentum generated by Pakistan’s calamity and Ms Rehman’s astute diplomacy lost in a protracted relief effort and Pakistan’s usual obsessions with politics and scandal. At least, until the floodwaters rise again.■
ISLAMABAD: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KS Relief) has started a project to distribute 25,000 winter kits among recent flood-affected and deserving people living in Pakistan.
The project has been launched in collaboration with National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said a statement by Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan.
It said this year, life-threatening floods caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains have affected 33 million people in Pakistan. The KS Relief Centre is engaged in providing emergency aid to the flood-affected areas of Pakistan to help people to cope with the disaster, it added.
The winter relief package will be distributed in 14 districts of Pakistan including Ganache, Skardu, Nagar, Astor, Ghazar, Chitral, Swat, Upper Dir, Mansehra, Dera Ismail Khan, Dadu, Jamshoro, and Qamber-Shahdadkot.
The package includes 50,000 polyester quilts and 25,000 winter kits, including warm shawls for men and women and warm clothes for children and adults.
King Salman’s relief package will be distributed transparently with the help of NDMA and provincial government, which will benefit more than 175,000 people in these districts.
KS Relief provided humanitarian aid to flood-hit Pakistan and distributed relief goods in the flood-hit areas of Punjab, Sindh and rest of the country.
Saudi Arabia had established an air-bridge to deliver relief goods to Pakistan as well as launched the Sahem portal to receive donations from the general public for the flood victims.
“The committee was informed that in response to UN Flash appeal, pledges worth $270 million have been made. Of these pledges, $170 million has been converted to firm commitments. On members’ queries regarding cumulative assistance received, it was informed that Pakistan has received $3.4 billion for flood relief operations and reconstruction,” said a press release issued by the office of the chairman of NA Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.
In the summary presented to the committee, it was told that in response to UN Flash Appeal for USD 816 million, pledges worth USD 304.4 million have been made. Of these pledges, USD 174 million has been converted to firm commitments (donors concluded agreements with UN Agency/INGO for the disbursement of funds).
The international friends/partners have committed financial aid worth USD 277 million (mostly for in-kind relief goods) which are not part of UN Flash Appeal.
It was further informed that the multilateral financial institutions have also allocated funds/loans for the flood relief assistance.
The World Bank has repurposed a loan worth USD 281 while AIIB has offered a USD 500 million loan. ADB has repurposed USD 475 million loans as well as granted a 3 million new funding.
The committee was informed that the total multilateral lending amounts to USD 1259 million.
It was further told that the sum of all pledges under UN Flash Appeal, bilateral and multilateral assistance amounts to USD 1807.4 million.
Pakistan has received 140 planeloads, 13 trainloads and 6 shiploads of relief goods from our international friends and partners like Turkey, China, the USA, KSA, the UAE, Qatar, the EU etc.
Till date, the International Assistance received by NDMA includes 25187 tents, 2205 tarpaulins, 16, 352 blankets, 1493 sleeping mats, nearly 8000 kitchen sets, 54826 food packs and 182 ration, 1030 units of baby food, 31 tons of medicine, 4722 hygiene kits, 87 water pumps and 58 boats.
The panel was told that assistance is also being received from Pakistani citizens and diaspora through various mechanisms such as directly to the PM Flood Relief Fund, to NGOs, relatives, individuals, etc. To date, an amount of 3,925 million Pak Rupees (equivalent to USD 18 million) has been received in the PM Flood Relief Accounts, including PKR 1942 million (8.93 million USD) donations from overseas, according to a summary shared with the panel.
In response to the members’ concerns whether the Flash Appeal was successful in meeting the desired targets, it was observed that the appeal was “mildly successful” against the ambitious target set; however, given the international community’s shift in attention to Ukraine, Flash Appeal was a success.
GUILIN, Nov. 29 (China Economic Net)-"After the 14-day aid in Pakistan, we are ready to continue giving full play to our professional strengths and enhance exchanges with Pakistan and contribute to the reconstruction of Pakistan’s health system", said Mr. Huang Wenxin, head of China (Guangxi) Medical Expert Team for Aiding Pakistan in Flood Relief.
The team has concluded its work in Pakistan from Oct. 28 to Nov. 11 for post-flood medical treatment and infectious disease prevention
During the trip, the expert team, consisting of experts on gastroenterology, infectious diseases, respiratory medicine, dermatology, general surgery, nursing, monitoring, analysis and prevention of infectious diseases, drinking water sanitation, mosquito vector monitoring and transmission, environmental elimination, and laboratory testing, visited Islamabad, Karachi, and the badly-hit Khaipur District in Sindh Province.
In Gambat Relief Camp, the team donated medical supplies to Khaipur, including antibiotics and antiviral drugs for respiratory tract infections and infectious diarrhea, dermatological topical medication for infection, anti-allergy medicine, anti-diarytic medicine, mosquito repellent medicine, antimalarial medicine, malaria detection kits, protective clothing, medical masks, etc.
Experts in the team together with local doctors provided free medical care to the flood affectees. “We also checked the water source and impact of mosquitoes and flies in the camp, and discussed with the health officials of Heilbul County on how to strengthen health education for the flood victims and promote a healthy lifestyle”, Mr. Huang Wenxin told China Economic Net (CEN).
“I’m deeply impressed by the patients saying thanks to us, the hospitable local doctors, and the full support from local health officials and security personnel”, Mr. Huang Wenxin recalled.
The team also met with Pakistan’s national and local health and disaster management authorities and put forward suggestions on post-disaster medical treatment, sanitation and epidemic prevention. It is suggested that national health campaign, medium- and long-term plans regarding the construction of hydraulic projects, and epidemic surveillance can be carried out to improve urban and rural sanitation, enhance the capacity for flood control, drought resistance, and disaster prevention, and control epidemics effectively.
The tale of Gautam Adani’s giant power plant reveals how political will in India bends in favor of the dirty fuel
By Gerry Shih, Niha Masih and Anant Gupta
GODDA, India — For years, nothing could stop the massive coal-fired power plant from rising over paddies and palm groves here in eastern India.
Not objections from local farmers, environmental impact review boards, even state officials. Not pledges by India’s leaders to shift toward renewable energy.
Not the fact that the project, ultimately, will benefit few Indians. When the plant comes online, now scheduled for next week, all of the electricity it generates is due to be sold at a premium to neighboring Bangladesh, a heavily indebted country that has excess power capacity and doesn’t need more, documents show.
The project, however, will benefit its builder, Gautam Adani, an Indian billionaire who according to Global Energy Monitor is the largest private developer of coal power plants and coal mines in the world. When his companies’ stock peaked in September, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index ranked Adani as the second-richest person on the planet, behind Elon Musk.
One of the power projects would be built by Adani, who had provided a corporate jet for Modi to use during his political campaign and accompanied the newly elected prime minister on his first visits to Canada and France. After Modi’s trip to Bangladesh, that country’s power authority contracted with Adani to build a $1.7 billion, 1,600-megawatt coal power plant. It would be situated 60 miles from the border, in a village in Godda district.
At the time, the project was seen as a win-win.
For Modi, it was an opportunity to bolster his “Neighborhood First” foreign policy and promote Indian business. Modi asked Bangladesh’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, to “facilitate the entry of Indian companies in the power generation, transmission and distribution sector of Bangladesh,” according to an Indian Foreign Ministry readout of their meeting.
For her part, Hasina envisioned lifting her country into middle-income status by 2020. Electricity demand from Bangladesh’s humming garment factories and booming cities would triple by 2030, the government estimated.
Facing a looming power glut, Bangladesh in 2021 canceled 10 out of 18 planned coal power projects. Mohammad Hossain, a senior power official, told reporters that there was “concern globally” about coal and that renewables were cheaper.
But Adani’s project will proceed. B.D. Rahmatullah, a former director general of Bangladesh’s power regulator, who also reviewed the Adani contract, said Hasina cannot afford to anger India, even if the deal appears unfavorable.
“She knows what is bad and what is good,” he said. “But she knows, ‘If I satisfy Adani, Modi will be happy.’ Bangladesh now is not even a state of India. It is below that.”
A spokesman for Hasina and senior Bangladeshi energy officials did not respond to a detailed list of questions and repeated requests seeking comment.
In the supplement report titled ‘Asian Development Outlook 2022 Supplement’, ADB said flood disruption and damage in the country are “expected to slow real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in combination with a tight monetary stance, high inflation, and an un-conducive global environment”.
the ADB report highlighted that flood damage in Pakistan threatened the upcoming agricultural season as well, as wheat is usually planted from mid-October.
It said the flooding is expected to have spillover effects on industry — notably textiles and food processing — and on services, in particular wholesale trade and transportation.
The report added that the floods had adversely affected cotton, rice and other important crops that are grown in the country.
The fiscal year 2023 forecast for Pakistan has been revised to reflect a “weaker currency [and] higher domestic energy prices” along with “flood-related crop and livestock losses and supply disruption, which have caused transitory food shortages and price spikes”, ADB elaborated in the report.
It further explained that transportation difficulties had “exacerbated these shortages and disrupted other domestic supply chains, broadening inflationary pressures and imposing production challenges”.
Growth and inflation outlook in South Asia
According to the ADB, South Asia is on track to meet the growth forecast of 6.5pc in 2022 but the forecast for 2023 has been downgraded slightly from 6.5pc to 6.3pc.
It further said sub-regional revision for 2023 largely reflected “lower forecasts for Bangladesh and Pakistan” as recovery in Bangladesh was also “hampered by external imbalances and unexpectedly high inflation”.
It projected inflation for South Asia — comprising of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — to increase from 8.1pc in September to 8.2pc in the recent December update.
However, the estimated inflation figures for the year 2023 had a more substantial increment from 7.4pc to 7.9pc.
The report said that the sub-regional revision for 2023 largely reflects higher inflation forecasts for Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Inflation forecasts for elsewhere in the sub-region in 2023 remained unchanged while inflation in India is expected to rise to 6.7pc before falling back to 5.8pc in the fiscal year 2022.
China’s energy investments in Pakistan have so far focused on coal and hydropower projects. But several China-backed wind projects are now underway, and Islamabad says it is ready to go big on solar.
Until about a decade ago, the Jhimpir region in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh was a dry, barren stretch of land, inhabited by nomadic tribes. Today, it is home to hundreds of mammoth rotating blades in about two dozen wind farms.
Around 90 kilometres from Karachi, Jhimpir is the heartland of Pakistan’s largest ‘wind corridor’, which has the potential to produce 11,000 megawatts (MW) of clean energy. Among early investors was the China Three Gorges Corporation, a Chinese state-owned power company, operating under an investment holding company, China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Limited.
The company has funded and built three wind projects with a combined capacity of nearly 150 MW. The first of these began construction in 2012. The latter two projects, completed in 2018, were funded under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an integral part of Beijing’s flagship multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In an official statement following Pakistan’s prime minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to China on 1-2 November 2022, Sharif reaffirmed the importance of CPEC to Pakistan’s development.
For the time being, renewables represent only a small portion of Pakistan’s power generation mix. Of a total of 43,775 MW, installed capacity for wind and solar represent around 4.2% (1,831 MW) and 1.4% (630 MW) respectively, according to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s State of Industry 2022 report. In terms of CPEC, the November 2022 joint statement from China and Pakistan listed oil and gas as among the “priority areas of CPEC cooperation”.
But a recent shift in the direction of Chinese investment may be hugely significant for Pakistan’s energy future, and the climate.
The shift from coal?
In the years before the launch of CPEC in 2015, Pakistan was desperate to end its long, crippling power shortages. The country was keen to develop its untapped indigenous coal in Thar desert, but multilateral financial institutions were not interested. Along came China in 2013, with an offer to lend massive amounts for infrastructure development and coal mining.
Details of the financing deals are a closely guarded secret, but multiple Chinese-funded coal projects followed. Eight completed or under-construction coal projects are listed as part of CPEC, totalling 6,900 MW, which include four on Thar coal.
Then in 2021, after growing pressure on China – currently the world’s biggest polluter – to curb its greenhouse gas emissions, Beijing announced it would not build new coal-fired power plants overseas, and would increase support for low-carbon energy.
In December 2020, Pakistan announced that it would not build any new power projects that depend on imported coal, and pledged that by 2030 60% of its energy will come from clean and renewable sources. The government has since scrapped a number of potential coal projects, including a 300 MW plant at the Chinese-controlled Gwadar sea port in Balochistan. Reportedly, it is to be replaced by a solar plant.
As Beijing tries to rebrand the BRI as an eco-friendly initiative, Chinese officials have promoted the idea of a ‘green’ CPEC. But Hina Aslam, research fellow at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), a think tank in Islamabad, points out that “in the energy sector, it has meant a greater focus on hydro rather than wind and solar”.
Besides wind energy in Jhimpir, China Three Gorges Corporation is investing heavily in what it is globally known for: hydropower (the company is behind the Three Gorges Dam in China, the world’s biggest power station). In June 2022, it completed a 720 MW project in Karot in northern Pakistan. Work is advancing on a 1,124 MW hydropower plant near Muzaffarabad, and a third 640 MW project has recently been approved in Mahl. The same company is behind both projects.
Put together, China Three Gorges aims to produce 2,500 MW of renewable energy in Pakistan, mostly through hydro. The Pakistan government – like many others – includes hydropower under the umbrella of renewable energy, but this is disputed by many environmentalists due to the often high environmental, social and financial costs of hydropower, including disruption of important riverine ecosystems. In Pakistan, dams are also politically contentious and a source of discord between upstream and downstream provinces. Yet, both Beijing and Islamabad appear keen to pursue hydropower.
But there are huge challenges facing Pakistan’s shift to renewable energy. “A lack of consistency in policy has been the biggest issue,” says Noman Sohail, senior business manager at China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Ltd. “Arranging lenders and finance for renewable projects is not a problem. But it’s disorienting when policies are reversed, tariffs renegotiated and unpaid capacity payments allowed to pile up.”
Growing popularity of solar
There is one form of renewable energy in particular that presents immense potential for Pakistan, but which has seen little investment to date: solar. A World Bank study in 2020 urged Pakistan to urgently expand solar and wind “to at least 30% of electricity generation capacity by 2030, equivalent to around 24,000 MW”. As of 2022, the proportion is 5.6% according to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s State of Industry 2022 report.
Pakistan’s slow take-up of solar energy is evident from the fact that of the 21 energy projects completed or in development under CPEC, only one is solar: the 1,000 MW Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park in Cholistan Desert, Punjab, built by Chinese company Zonergy. This project, promoted as one of the world’s biggest solar parks, was meant to be completed by 2017. But only 40% of this capacity has been implemented so far.
Suleman Rehman, chief executive of Burj Capital, a Dubai-based investment company focused on renewable energy in Pakistan, says that regardless of the government’s apparent lack of focus, the demand for affordable solar power is growing exponentially. “The competition is getting intense. More and more local players are coming up every month. Installing a 4 MW solar project is no longer a big deal for us,” says Rehman.
According to Rehman, the private sector is not waiting for policymakers to facilitate the energy transition. Those who can are turning to the solar option. That explains the recent proliferation of rooftop photovoltaic panels in big cities, as well as in off-grid villages across the country.
The solar future
Costly fuel imports have already had a crippling effect on Pakistan’s economy. This year, the volatility of global energy prices, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, took a damaging toll on Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves. The country was on the verge of a default before the International Monetary Fund agreed to step in to help it stay afloat.
In an attempt to reduce dependence on imported fuel, on 1 September 2022 prime minister Shahbaz Sharif announced the rapid deployment of 10,000 MW of solar power in the country. But details of how this will be achieved, and by when, are sketchy. The plan reportedly involves transitioning all public sector buildings to solar power. The proposal also encourages power plants running on coal, oil and gas to partially shift to solar power.
China will have a crucial role to play if this shift to solar is to happen, says Rehman, though it may come in a different form than the mega-projects seen under CPEC.
“China will still have a big role because they are producing the cheapest [solar] equipment worldwide. But I really hope the government won’t put this under CPEC because that would put local players at a disadvantage,” says Rehman.
Some Chinese companies will still be involved in investment in solar, but most will not be interested in small local projects, he feels. “In my experience, customers are happy for us to import Chinese-manufactured technology or their raw material, but they prefer to have local contractors and engineers to deal with.”
So far, Pakistan’s dependence on imports from China has prevented creation of local supply chains, says Rehman. That, he says, will need to change if the country is serious about exploiting its solar potential. “The government can facilitate this transition by encouraging domestic manufacturing,” argues Rehman.
After an avalanche of climate pledges last year, 2022 was when governments and corporations started to grapple with implementation
In 2021, governments and corporations got drunk on net zero hype. 2022 was the year when the hangover kicked in and they started to grapple with what their promises meant and whether they were actually prepared to follow through.
Cop26’s slogan of “coal, car, cash and trees” was replaced by Cop27’s sober “together for implementation”. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent fossil fuel prices soaring and governments scrambling to secure them in the short term while moving off them in the long term. Many pledges made in Glasgow slipped off the top of governments and CEO to-do lists.
But the changing climate kept making the case for action. With large parts of Pakistan underwater and its people living for months by the side of the road, the case for loss and damage finance for climate victims finally became impossible to ignore. Here’s our run-down of what defined 2022 in the climate world.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
On Thursday February 25, Russian troops advanced towards Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. The invasion had huge global implications, particularly for energy. But its immediate impacts were local and personal. The day after the advance on Kyiv began, Climate Home spoke to a climate campaigner stuck in a huge traffic jam as she fled the city, a climate scientist who had to debate the IPCC’s summary for policymakers under rocket fire and a green energy promoter who feared that investment in Ukraine would now disappear.
The war highlighted how dependence on fossil fuels makes you vulnerable. Europe had to scramble to replace Russian gas with renewables and non-Russian gas. The latter sent energy prices around the world soaring and damaged the continent’s credibility as a self-styled climate leader. For the rest of the year, Europe tried not to pull a muscle pursuing a dash for gas at the same time as a renewables marathon. European divisions on whether to back foreign gas were laid bare at the G7 in June.
In September, two pipelines carrying Russian gas exploded in suspicious circumstances. Experts said this highlighted the inherent vulnerability of an energy system which relies on moving large quantities of stuff across the world rather than relying on the sun and wind, which are harder to disrupt.
Fossil fuel crisis
The economic impact of the invasion of Ukraine spread far beyond Europe. Countries like Sri Lanka, which has neglected renewables and relies on imported fossil fuels, were particularly vulnerable to the spike in the oil and gas price.
About month after Russian troops marched towards Kyiv, protesters in Colombo advanced on the presidential palace of Gotobaya Rajapaksa. A few months later, on 9 July, he fled to Singapore, although his disciple Ranil Wickremesinghe remains in charge.
Analysts told Climate Home that reliance on fossil fuel imports had contributed to the crisis. But that neither the government nor ordinary citizens have the money to invest in renewables and fix the problem. So Sri Lankans face power cuts, tourists stay away and the country struggles even more for foreign currency.
Loss and damage breakthrough
This year saw huge advances on the issue of loss and damage, which is UN climatespeak for funding for victims of climate change. Developing countries have been pushing for a loss and damage fund for decades – to firm opposition from rich polluters.
The issue was not even on the agenda at Cop26 last year or at the annual Bonn interim climate talks in June. But the Egyptian presidency backed its inclusion at Cop27. It became the main issue for climate campaigners and the global press.
Until now, renewable energy sources make up a very minor fraction of Pakistan’s overall power generation mix. According to a recent report of the National Electric Power Regulatovry Authority, the installed capacity for wind and solar accounts for roughly 4.2% (1,831 MW) and 1.4% (630 MW) of a total of 43,775 MW, respectively.
China is already the biggest investor in green energy in Pakistan. Currently, out of the $144 million in foreign investment in solar PV plants in Pakistan, $125 million is from China, accounting for nearly 87% of the total.
Thanks to Chinese investments, a few weeks ago Federal Power Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan inaugurated two new wind energy projects in Jhimpir, Thatta District, Sindh, with an aim to produce cheaper and clean electricity through indigenous energy sources. Wind projects in this region have been one of several renewable energy projects to have received Chinese investment in recent years. Around 90 kilometers from Karachi, Jhimpir is the heartland of the country’s largest ‘Wind corridor’, which has the potential to produce 11,000 megawatts (MW) of energy from green resources.
By Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif
Climate disasters continue to ravage our country – more international aid is urgently needed to save millions from misery
The apocalyptic rains and floods that hit Pakistan last summer claimed 1,700 lives, left a swathe of territory the size of Switzerland under water and affected 33 million people – more people than live in most European countries.
International attention has receded, but the waters have not. Large parts of Sindh and Balochistan provinces remain inundated. The number of food-insecure people in Pakistan has doubled to 14 million; another 9 million have been pushed into extreme poverty. These flooded areas now look like a huge series of permanent lakes, transforming forever the terrain and the lives of people living there. No amount of pumps can remove this water in less than a year; and by July 2023, the worry is that these areas may flood again.
Pakistan is suffering not just from flooding but from recurring climate extremes – earlier in spring 2022, the country was in the grip of a scorching, drought-aggravating heatwave that caused forest fires in the west. The fact that some of the same areas that received record temperatures were subsequently submerged underlines the sharp swings in weather patterns that are becoming a norm.
Pakistanis have responded to this latest calamity with exemplary resilience. Already facing severe economic headwinds, the government scrambled to generate funds enabling direct cash transfers of more than $250m (£200m) to more than 2 million households. In all, we managed to mobilise about $1.5bn in emergency relief out of our own meagre resources.
We are grateful to the international community and friends of Pakistan for their generosity in helping us to avoid the worst. While the World Health Organization had designated the situation as a high-level health emergency, the feared water-borne diseases and localised epidemics did not break out due to the efficient working of our vast network of medical camps. Similarly, we were able to restore the damaged communication networks between cities and villages very quickly.
Yet more than 2 million homes, 14,000km of roads and 23,000 schools and clinics have been destroyed. A post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA), carried out in collaboration with the World Bank and the EU, estimated that the damage caused by floods exceeded $30bn – a 10th of Pakistan’s entire GDP.
These numbers only scratch the surface of the challenge at hand. They demand a response that would stretch and overwhelm the resources of any country. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, witnessed the “unimaginable” destruction first-hand during a visit to Sindh province in September. Terming it “climate carnage”, the secretary general found himself at a loss for words – “a flooded area that is three times the total area of my own country, Portugal”. This devastation has been greater than that caused by the 2010 floods in Pakistan, which the UN then described as the worst natural disaster it had ever responded to. Pakistan simply cannot do this alone.
By Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif
This is why the secretary general and I are co-hosting the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan in Geneva on 9 January. We will be joined by world leaders, representatives of international development and humanitarian organisations, and friends of Pakistan to signal support and solidarity with a country that is grappling with a natural disaster not of its making.
A newborn held aloft in Pakistan sums up the sheer injustice of the climate crisis
We will also present a comprehensive roadmap for post-flood reconstruction and rehabilitation, developed with the assistance of the World Bank, the UN, the Asian Development Bank and the EU. The resilient recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction framework (or 4RF) essentially envisages a two-pronged response. The first part relates to meeting the immediate challenges of recovery and reconstruction, requiring minimum funding of $16.3bn over a period of three years. Pakistan would meet half the funding from its own resources. But we will count on the continued assistance of our bilateral and multilateral partners to bridge the gap.
The second part of the 4RF outlines Pakistan’s long-term vision for building climate resilience. This would require an investment of $13.5bn over a 10-year period. Building better communications infrastructure and a more robust irrigation system, and designing efficient early warning systems to mitigate the effects of future natural disasters is not a luxury for Pakistan but an absolute imperative.
Of course, I am conscious that the Geneva conference marks only the beginning of a long and arduous journey. But a substantive outcome will reassure millions of imperilled people – who have already lost everything – that they have not been forgotten; that the international community will help them to rebuild their lives.
It will also remind us that we are all – increasingly – at the mercy of forces of nature that do not respect borders and can only be tamed by joining hands. It is, therefore, my sincere hope that our gathering in Geneva comes to symbolise our common humanity and generosity of spirit – a source of hope for all people and countries who may face natural adversity in the future.
Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif is Pakistan’s prime minister
The flooding killed more than 1,700 people, destroyed more than 2 million homes, and covered as much as one-third of the country at one point, causing damage totaling more than $30 billion, officials say. Large swaths of the country remain under water, with millions living near contaminated or stagnant waters, the U.N. says.
After a midday break, Pakistani Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb tweeted that $8.57 billion had been offered up to that point — exceeding an initial target to meet half of the government’s estimated needs of some $16.3 billion to respond to the flooding. The other half is expected to come from the Pakistani government itself.
She listed the top donors as the Islamic Development Bank, with $4.2 billion; the World Bank, at $2 billion; the Asian Development Bank, at $1.5 billion. She said the European Union had pledged $93 million, Germany $88 million, China $100 million, and Japan $77 million. The United States said separately was doubling its allocation, announcing another $100 million on top of a similar amount already committed to Pakistan.
The interim tally from Aurangzeb did not include, for example, a pledge of $1 billion from Saudi Arabia. Wealthy and traditionally generous Nordic countries and others were continuing to announce their commitments Monday afternoon.
The conference has shaped up as a test case of just how much wealthy nations would pitch in to help developing-world countries like Pakistan manage the impact of climatic swoons, and brace for other disasters.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres attended in-person and other world leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took part virtually.
“We need to be honest about the brutal injustice of loss and damage suffered by developing countries because of climate change,” Guterres told the gathering. “If there is any doubt about loss and damage — go to Pakistan. There is loss. There is damage. The devastation of climate change is real.”
GENEVA - Pakistan said on Monday that donors have committed to give more than US$8 billion (S$10 billion) to help it recover from last year’s devastating floods in what is seen as a major test for who pays for climate disasters.
Officials from some 40 countries as well as private donors and international financial institutions are gathering for a meeting in Geneva as Islamabad seeks help covering around half of a total recovery bill of US$16.3 billion.
Waters are still receding from the floods caused by monsoon rains and melting glaciers which killed at least 1,700 people and displaced around 8 million.
Pakistan Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb sent a tweet saying that pledges have reached US$8.57 billion - more than it had initially sought.
Among the donors were the Islamic Development Bank (US$4.2 billion), the World Bank (US$2 billion), the Asian Development Bank (US$1.5 billion) as well as the European Union and China, she said.
France and the United States also made contributions.
Earlier, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for massive investments to help Pakistan recover from what he called a “climate disaster of monumental scale”.
“Pakistan is doubly victimised by climate chaos and a morally bankrupt global financial system,” he added. He later elaborated saying the current system is “biased” towards the rich countries who conceived it.
Additional funding is crucial to Pakistan amid growing concerns about its ability to pay for imports such as energy and food and to meet sovereign debt obligations abroad.
Pakistan’s finance minister is meeting an International Monetary Fund delegation on the sidelines of the Geneva meeting.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the country is committed to the IMF programme but that he is asking the IMF for “breathing space” to meet its commitments, without elaborating.
In comments to the conference earlier on Monday, Mr Sharif said Islamabad is willing to provide around half of the US$16.3 billion bill but wants donors to contribute the rest.
“I am asking for a new lifeline for people who need to power our economy and re-enter the 21st century with a future that is protected from such extreme risks to human security,” he said.
Millions of homes, tens of thousands of schools as well as thousands of kilometres of roads and railways still need to be rebuilt, the UN says.
Efforts to secure funding for the initial emergency phase of the disaster response were disappointing with a humanitarian aid package of US$816 million less than half funded , UN data showed.
United Nations’ Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner said the next phase of the Pakistan response represents a “monumental moment of reckoning for the entire world”. REUTERS
Fundraising exceeded $8 billion that prime minister sought
Floods killed more than 1,700 people and cut growth by half
Pakistan has received commitments for more than $10 billion from the global community that it requested at a conference in Geneva to help the country rebuild houses and farms along with rehabilitating people impacted by floods.
That exceeded the $8 billion over three years that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had sought.
Post-Disaster Needs Assessment calls for urgent support to implement a Recovery and Reconstruction that ‘Builds Back Better’
ISLAMABAD, October 28, 2022- A damage, loss, and needs assessment following the unprecedented floods in Pakistan calls for ‘building back better’, based on the principles of the poor first, transparency, inclusion, and climate resilience. The assessment estimates total damages to exceed USD 14.9 billion, and total economic losses to reach about USD 15.2 billion. Estimated needs for rehabilitation and reconstruction in a resilient way are at least USD 16.3 billion, not including much needed new investments beyond the affected assets, to support Pakistan’s adaptation to climate change and overall resilience of the country to future climate shocks.
Housing; Agriculture and Livestock; and Transport and Communications sectors suffered the most significant damage, at USD 5.6 billion, USD 3.7 billion, and USD 3.3 billion, respectively. Sindh is the worst affected province with close to 70 percent of total damages and losses, followed by Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab.
The Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives led the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), which was conducted jointly with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Union (EU), the United Nations agencies with technical facilitation by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank. The PDNA, in addition to estimating damages, economic losses and recovery and reconstruction needs, also assesses broader macro-economic and human impacts and recommends principles along which to develop a comprehensive recovery and reconstruction framework.
The floods affected 33 million people and more than 1730 lost their lives. They are particularly impacting the poorest and most vulnerable districts. The situation is still evolving, with flood waters stagnant in many areas, causing water-borne and vector-borne diseases to spread, and more than 8 million displaced people now facing a health crisis. The crisis thus risks having profound and lasting impacts on lives and livelihoods. Loss of household incomes, assets, rising food prices, and disease outbreaks are impacting the most vulnerable groups. Women have suffered notable losses of their livelihoods, particularly those associated with agriculture and livestock.
The PDNA Human Impact Assessment highlights that the national poverty rate may increase by 3.7 to 4.0 percentage points, potentially pushing between 8.4 and 9.1 million more people below the poverty line.
Multidimensional poverty can potentially increase by 5.9 percentage points, implying that an additional 1.9 million households are at risk of being pushed into non-monetary poverty.
Compounding the existing economic difficulties facing the country, the 2022 floods are expected to have a significant adverse impact on output, which will vary substantially by region and sector. Loss in gross domestic product (GDP) as a direct impact of the floods is projected to be around 2.2 percent of FY22 GDP. The agriculture sector is projected to contract the most, at 0.9 percent of GDP. The damage and losses in agriculture will have spillover effects on the industry, external trade and services sectors.
The Government is providing immediate relief to the impacted communities and supporting the early recovery, while aiming to ensure macroeconomic stability and fiscal sustainability. Moving forward, as recovery and reconstruction spending rises, the loss in output could be mitigated. Yet, significant international support will be needed to complement Pakistan’s own commitment to increase domestic revenue mobilization and save scarce public resources, and to reduce the risk of exacerbating macroeconomic imbalances.
Although the early loss and damage estimates may increase as the situation is continuously evolving on the ground, the PDNA lays the groundwork for an agenda for recovery and reconstruction that is designed to build back a better future for the most affected people in Pakistan. While the recovery will require massive efforts for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, buildings and livelihoods, it will also be an opportunity to strengthen institutions and governance structures.
The report puts forth recommendations for developing a comprehensive recovery framework. While the primary focus will be on the affected areas, such framework presents an opportunity to embed systemic resilience to natural hazards and climate change in Pakistan’s overall development planning. This tragic disaster can be a turning point, where climate resilience and adaptation, increased domestic revenue mobilization and better public spending, and public policies and investments better targeted to the most vulnerable populations; all figure at the core of policy making going forward.
In the short term, targeted mechanisms such as social assistance and emergency cash transfers, provision of emergency health services, and programs to restore shelter and restart local economic activities, particularly in agriculture, should be prioritized. Reconstruction and rehabilitation should rest on key principles of: participatory, transparent, inclusive, and green recovery for long-term resilience—“building back better”; pro-poor, pro-vulnerable, and gender sensitive, targeting the most affected; strong coordination of government tiers and implementation by the lowest appropriate level; synergies between humanitarian effort and recovery; and a sustainable financing plan.
Given Pakistan’s limited fiscal resources, significant international support and private investment will be essential for a comprehensive and resilient recovery. The Pakistani authorities are committed to accelerate reforms to generate additional domestic fiscal resources and improve efficiency and targeting of public spending. Beyond the immediate needs of floods reconstruction, these reforms, while protecting the most vulnerable, will be important to generate fiscal space to invest more broadly into more climate-resilient infrastructure and adaptation to climate change, as well as to build buffers to face future shocks, while addressing macroeconomic imbalances. This commitment of the Government will also be key to mobilize further international support as well as to unlock private sector sources of financing—both of which will be absolutely critical to face the current climate change-induced shock.
The ADB, the EU, the UNDP and the World Bank are fully committed to working with the Government and people of Pakistan during the ensuing recovery phase, and to increase the country’s climate resilience.
For mass shelter projects, she (Yasmeen Lari) found a game-changing substitute in lime, an abundant mineral that, mixed with traditional mud, becomes stable and water-resistant, she says.
Pakistan is struggling to recover from last year’s cataclysmic flooding that killed more than 1,700. It was the latest in a string of weather-related disasters the country has faced over the past two decades, prompting calls to make hard-hit communities more resilient as they rebuild. Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from the flood-ravaged Sindh province, in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
On a recent morning here in rural Sindh Province, workers, including residents of Pano (ph), a model village, were building bamboo frames for construction.
The need for durable shelter is overwhelming in a country still grappling with an enormous rebuilding effort. Last year's unrelenting rains wiped away hundreds of thousands of mud huts across rural areas. Standing water still covers acres of land once home to villages of mostly sharecroppers and farm laborers.
The village of Pano and 12 others are the brainchild of globally acclaimed architect Yasmeen Lari, the first female to qualify as an architect in Pakistan; 82-year-old Lari has won several awards in a career that focused at first on designing modern buildings, like the Finance and Trade Center in Pakistan's commercial capital, Karachi.
Yasmeen Lari, Architect:
You must about the architect that we're all trained to control everything, nothing should be different from what we have decided, what we design.
And here was a different way of working altogether, where you have to lose your ego.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
In retirement, she found her calling at the intersection of architecture and social justice, she says, beginning with the devastating 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, where she planned to spend three months doing relief work.
While it didn't quite work out that way. I found there was plenty to do there.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
Her focus shifted with the urgent need for structures that can be built quickly and sustainably in a country slammed in recent years by extreme climate events, moving away from concrete and steel, and using more local low-carbon and low-cost materials.
When I was a practicing architect, I built some huge, monster buildings with a lot of concrete and steel.
And I found that 40 percent of carbon emissions are because of the conventional construction.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
Among her signature projects is this pedestrian-only street in the heart of Karachi, emphasizing green space and terra-cotta tile, which drain rainwater much faster than the usual concrete.
Concrete is the worst thing, because everything becomes totally impervious.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
For mass shelter projects, she found a game-changing substitute in lime, an abundant mineral that, mixed with traditional mud, becomes stable and water-resistant, she says.
I found it was an absolutely miracle material, because it stabilized the earth completely and could last for years if you submerge it in water. And we have tested that.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
Lari's structures incorporate climate-smart design and materials with traditional ones. The key is to build on higher ground, add a short platform for additional protection from floodwaters, and use a sloped, thatched roof.
It's made out of eight prefab panels. And then it has a structure, a roof which is like an umbrella. So, there's a huge amount of air movement. So it's very comfortable inside.
My own dream is really that if I could just save people from displacement, if they could be just these structures which will make sure that people can stay in them.
A balance of payments crisis is tipping a fragile economy over the edge
The floods and job losses are thought to have pitched between 8.4m and 9.1m more people into poverty, mostly in the countryside. In Dadu, an especially inundated district of Sindh, thousands are still languishing in tents. “Only those who had savings or outside help can afford to fix their houses”, says Rasheed Jamali, an aid worker. Foreign donors pledged $9bn in relief in January; less than $800m of a previous set of pledges had at that time arrived. With only half of Pakistan’s soggy fields sufficiently recovered to sow with winter wheat, much of the country is facing another lost harvest.
These political, economic and environmental crises are mutually reinforcing. Payments from the bailout programme agreed in 2019 were suspended a year ago after Mr Khan, facing a growing prospect of parliamentary defeat and ejection from office, reintroduced fuel subsidies. Mr Sharif’s government vowed to fulfil the fund’s conditions but backtracked in September when, panicked by the floods, it sacked Miftah Ismail, its pragmatic finance minister. His successor reversed some of his policies, prompting another suspension of payouts. “If the floods hadn’t happened I might have kept the job and we might have been OK,” Mr Ismail says.
Mr Sharif’s government seems to be bowing to the inevitable. In late January it stopped trying to prop up the rupee and raised fuel prices, as the imf had requested. If the current negotiations in Islamabad unlock the bailout funds, it might encourage other external creditors to extend credit lines or defer payments on existing loans. Unlike Sri Lanka, which owed a higher percentage of its debt to foreign creditors, Pakistan may be able to stabilise its position without its creditors being forced to accept a “haircut”.
Yet any relief is likely to be temporary. The current imf programme expires in June; Mr Sharif’s term will expire in August. A caretaker administration will then preside over what promises to be a two-month political vacuum before the scheduled elections. They will be messy. It is hard to think of Pakistan in such circumstances carrying out the additional reforms, including raising taxes and electricity tariffs, required to secure more imf funding. They would inflict more short-term pain on the country’s wretched people than even an astute Pakistani government might dare to. And especially if Mr Khan, currently nursing his wounds after a failed assassination attempt, has his way, the next government may be even worse than the current one.
Seven educators from across the country took part in the program, which equipped them with the resources to teach children from sixth to eighth grade about climate change and climate action in their schools by translating materials into local languages and engaging in play-based activities. The program was the first of its kind in a country that would months later be reeling from a summer of deadly super floods.
Those floods were one reason that state parties to last year’s United Nations climate change conference in Egypt, known as COP27, approved the creation of a loss and damage fund. Though rich countries had for decades shunned the prospect, Pakistan and other vulnerable countries in the global south helped move climate reparations into the mainstream conversation.
The Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, founded by Lari in 1980, is training villagers in Sindh province to build their own flood-resilient homes from cheap, locally available, low-carbon materials. Lari’s designs use bamboo panels, which are reinforced with earth and lime, and sit on raised platforms—small twists on traditional mud huts that make them waterproof. Once they have the skills, residents can expand their villages and train others. Between mid-September and the end of 2022, the foundation helped build 3,500 homes in 60 villages. Now, Lari is trying to persuade NGOs, banks, and foreign donors to directly fund her trained artisans and local communities, with the aim of building one million homes by 2024.
The timing is urgent. Pakistan is about to launch into one of its most intense periods of rebuilding in its history. Authorities say at least two million people are in need of shelter. And money is on the way: in January, a group of banks and countries pledgedsome $9 billion in recovery funds.
If those resources are channeled into millions of concrete homes, built without the participation of the people who will live in them, Lari says, Pakistan will only continue in its cycle of crisis. “We have to be talking about: How will you deal with the next disaster? How do we train people to be able to defend themselves?
Lari was not always a champion of Pakistan’s vernacular architecture. When she began her career in Karachi in the 1960s, elites in a newly independent Pakistan were still deeply influenced by British colonialism. Lari had just graduated from the U.K.’s Oxford Brookes University, and her father had been a civil servant in the colonial government. “We grew up thinking that whatever was in the West was something that we all had to emulate,” she says.
Lari spent her first four decades as an architect designing in the western-influenced, globalized palate of concrete, steel, and glass. And she was good at it. Her striking brutalist homes and hotels and other structures won a slew of national and international awards. Her most famous building is probably the headquarters for Pakistan’s state-owned oil company, a sleek, imposing, carbon-intensive behemoth that opened in downtown Karachi in 1991. “The 1980s were a very wasteful time—you could get any material in the world that you wanted,” she says. “And as a designer you do enjoy that freedom.”
Pakistan is home to one of the ancient world’s most impressive examples of flood-resilient design. The ruins of Mohenjo-Daro, a bronze age city in the southeastern province of Sindh, sit on raised platforms with sophisticated drainage systems that protected them from annual monsoon rains. Those features have helped the remains of these earthen buildings survive for 4,500 years—and weather the devastating floods that have repeatedly struck Pakistan over the last decade, most recently submerging a third of the country in August 2022.
And yet, according to Pakistani architect Yasmeeen Lari, those tasked with rebuilding the country from the floods tend to look not to Mohenjo-Daro, but to the West. “I call it the international colonial charity model: international NGOs and UN agencies say, ‘let’s bring in concrete, let’s bring burnt brick’,” she says. “Well, those are alien materials for people in these areas.”
With houses still damaged and water scarce, farm families in south Punjab tend surviving animals and parched fields
RAJANPUR, Pakistan — Cradling his infant son in one arm, a village farmer brought out a wooden trough he had nailed together from broken boards. His brother poured grain into it. Hearing the sound, the family cow trotted across the yard and buried her nose in the feed. The little boy waved his arms, and everyone laughed.
Rajanpur, a rural district of southwestern Punjab province, sits at the edge of a vast fertile belt that has long been known as the breadbasket of Pakistan, growing much of its wheat, sugar, feed corn and cotton, as well as mangoes and green vegetables.
But seven months after the Indus River overflowed its banks and the picturesque Sulaiman Hills unleashed torrents of water amid heavy monsoon rains, decimated farm communities are still recovering from Pakistan’s worst natural disaster since its founding in 1947. Nationwide, more than 1,700 people died and over 30 million were displaced. More than a million farm animals also perished, swept away in fast waters or succumbing to hunger and cold.
In another hamlet nearby, two men on motorbikes unloaded heavy metal containers full of water, which they had filled at a town pump several miles away. Since the floods, the local water has remained too salty for either humans or farm animals to drink.
“It’s going to take a long time before things recover here,” said Mohammed Ali, a day laborer in his 40s who helps fetch the containers every morning. “It’s still hard to grow anything on the land. People have lost their homes and their belongings. But at least this way they can have some sweet water in the morning.”
Although most of the flooding affected other provinces, Rajanpur and next-door Dera Ghazi Khan were among 84 districts across the country to be declared “national calamity” areas. In Rajanpur alone, according to news reports and officials, 12 people were killed — including a woman bitten by a cobra that washed down from the hills. Another 3,000 were injured, 300,000 acres of cropland were ruined and 28,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, along with 425 schools, 16 hospitals and numerous bridges.
On a recent visit to several villages, the only access was along narrow, raised dirt tracks between endless fields. The surrounding landscape looked as if a tornado had roared through it erratically, leaving a few areas lush and green but turning many others into barren, lifeless patches of cracked brown earth that no ordinary plow could till.
Along the way, large puddles of dirty brown water sat stagnant, covered with green scum. A few sandpipers scuttled around the edges — shorebirds from afar that had arrived with the floods and remained behind afterward for reasons of their own.
As the villages came into view, they appeared grim and silent at first. Many mud-brick houses and farm sheds were still in ruins. Roofs were missing, doorways were hung with tarps or jute tents, and piles of nearby rubble had not been moved. Children and baby goats scampered in dirt yards, but little else seemed to be happening.
Under a shady tree, Mohammad Asghar, 35, was tending to his most valuable possession, a brown and white dairy cow named Honesty. Unlike many of his skeptical neighbors, he had planned ahead when the first flood warnings came, walking her to a high paved road before the water rose and taking a supply of fodder as well. “I wanted to make sure nothing happened to her,” he said. “She gives me 3.5 liters [about a gallon] of milk every day.”
Planting and tending new crops, however, has proved to be far more challenging. Most of the farmers’ stored seeds and tools were washed away or ruined. The surrounding cropland was submerged for several months afterward, leaving a soggy, useless mess.
A variety of government and private agencies have brought help to the area since the floods, but the bulk of it was devoted to initial emergency rescues. As in many other parts of Pakistan, thousands of Rajanpur residents fled their flooded villages or were evacuated in boats, then marooned for weeks on elevated paved roads. Aid teams provided tents and blankets, food and water, medical and veterinary services, and other immediate needs.
“Our first priority was to save lives,” said Mohsin Issaq, the south Punjab coordinator for a private charity called Muslim Hands, which delivered food, supplies and medical aid to more than 14,000 stranded people. Now that most have returned home, he said, the group is focusing on permanent needs to sustain farming and daily life, such as water pumps and desalination kits. It also offers families a Quran if theirs was washed away or damaged. Every home needs to have one, he said. “It is an important cultural value.”
But long-term support for farm rehabilitation across millions of unusable acres is far more expensive than emergency food and medicine, and the floods struck at a time when Pakistan was already facing a long list of economic woes — rampant inflation, dwindling foreign reserves, record-low currency rates, and a heavy foreign debt burden that raised the prospect of financial default.
One estimate by Pakistani and U.N. officials put the total costs for flood damage recovery and reconstruction at $16.3 billion. Early international response was low, in part because of reports of aid misuse during Pakistan’s last major floods, in 2010. A conference in Geneva in January, however, donors from 40 countries and institutions, including the European Union, the United States and Saudi Arabia, pledged over $9 billion to help Pakistan recover from the floods, exceeding its request for $8 billion.
Still, Abid Qaiyum Suleri, an environmental expert in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, noted in an essay in the News newspaper in January that millions of poor people in flood-affected areas feel “as helpless today … as they were yesterday,” with their land useless, their homes still in ruins and scant prospects for the future. Physical reconstruction, he added, “is only part of what is required for a dignified recovery for flood survivors.”
One determined farmer in Rajanpur, a man in his 60s named Hamidullah, decided to take a chance two months ago and plant wheat on his four acres of land. He said he felt lucky because he and his wife and children had been saved from the flood by clinging to their large male buffalo, who was heavy and able to swim through the rushing water to higher ground.
“I used to grow cotton and rice, but none of that can grow here now. The land is too dry and they need a lot of water,” he said. He pointed to his small patch of emerald green outside the village, surrounded by larger, barren ground. “So far it is coming along,” he said. “We lost everything; our beds, our cooking pots, our clothes. But we survived, because of our buffalo,” he said. “If this wheat crop does well, maybe I can rebuild our house.”
Moving into 2023, urgent and significant humanitarian needs remain which require continued focus and support, even as reconstruction and rehabilitation begin under the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and Resilient, Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Framework (4RF).
The 2022 flood was equivalent to nearly 2.9 times the national 30-year average – and a combination of riverine, urban, and flash flooding led to a record flood in which 94 districts were declared calamity-hit. The widespread flooding and landslides resulted in major losses of human lives and damage to property and infrastructure. Around 33 million people were affected, nearly 8 million people were reportedly displaced, and as per UN Satellite Centre imagery around 4.5 million people are still exposed to or living close to flood water. As per the last NDMA situation report, 1,739 people lost their lives (of which 647 were children), 12,867 were injured (including 4,006 children) and more than 2.28 million houses were damaged (partially damaged: 1,391,467 and fully damaged: 897,014).
An estimated 20.6 million people, including 9.6 million children, need humanitarian assistance. Many of the hardest-hit districts are amongst the most vulnerable districts in Pakistan, where children already suffer from high malnutrition, poor access to water and sanitation, low school enrolment, and other deprivations. Moreover, the effects of the floods have worsened pre-existing vulnerabilities to key child-protection issues and gender-based violence (GBV). Children, particularly those living in poverty, are at a higher risk of being forced into child labour, child marriage and violence. The affected area in need of community-based psychosocial support and specialized interventions. As per the PDNA, beyond the increase in monetary poverty, estimates indicate an increase in multidimensional poverty from 37.8 per cent to 43.7 per cent, meaning that an additional 1.9 million households will be pushed into non-monetary poverty. This entails significantly increased deprivations around access to adequate health, sanitation, quality maternal health care, electricity, and loss of assets. Multidimensional poverty will increase by 13 percentage points in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), followed by 10.9 in Balochistan, and 10.2 in Sindh province.
As per the latest available reports, more than 5.4 million people do not have access to safe or potable water in flood-affected districts. An estimated 1.1 million people are at risk of sliding from acute food and livelihood crisis (IPC3) situations to humanitarian emergency (IPC4) food security situations due to insufficient support. Malaria outbreaks have been reported in at least 12 districts of Sindh and Balochistan. Over 7 million children and women need immediate access to nutrition services. An estimated 3.5 million children, especially girls, are at high risk of permanent school dropouts.