Loss and Damage: A Step towards Climate Justice

by Ali Hamza

As the discussions revolving around the phenomenon of Global Climate Change became more pervasive throughout the world, it was acknowledged that the factor of exclusivity, and inequality with respect to responsibility and effects, marred the generally accepted discourse. Thus, the term Climate Justice was coined and paddled rightly to make the world cognizant of whose ambition has caused the world to heat at a dangerous pace and who is at the receiving end. The Global North, in its spree of progress and development, has inflicted serious damage to the environment. This has, consequentially, subjected the Global South to serious environmental issues in the form of extreme weather patterns, floods, droughts etc. The onus of paying for the damages caused by their acts, thus, lies upon the Global North. This realization is the crux of Climate Justice discourse. As Pakistan is among the countries facing the direst of consequences of Global Climate Change, its agenda has been the emblem of what the Global South demands. The 2022 floods in Pakistan have been undoubtedly biblical in scope and intensity. They were the consequence of a “monsoon on steroids.” With almost one-third of the country under water, there has been serious realization of the fact that Pakistan’s environmental concerns should be on the top of its foreign policy agenda as well. Thanks to the vigilance of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Climate Change, Pakistan has very cogently projected its demands at all international forums. The most significant of these was Pakistan’s posture at COP-27. Representing G-77 at COP-27, Pakistan spearheaded the struggle to convince the rich of the world to pay what they should. Pakistan’s minister for Climate Change, Sherry Rehman, outrightly put forth Pakistan’s stance and provided the essential leadership to G-77. Her remarks, “what is happening in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan”, had a strong impact and the initial success was getting the thorny issue of “Loss and Damage” on agenda. As the Global North has been escaping its responsibility of paying for the damage it has caused, COP-27 was no different in this regard. Any credible agreement over reparations was out of reach for several days. However, it would be no exaggeration to state that Pakistan’s leadership role at COP-27 was exceptional. Pakistan’s delegation kept up the consistent and sustained efforts to drive the world towards the essential consensus. After rigorous rounds of talks, tiring discussions, and effective diplomacy, the announcement was made for the formation of Loss and Damage fund for 134 countries of the Global South. It was through sheer commitment and effective leadership of Pakistan that the milestone agreement was finally hammered out. Along with what this might bring for the world, it is a great foreign policy achievement for Pakistan. Past few days have made the world cognizant of Pakistan’s commitment towards Climate Justice. This is a new trajectory, a new avenue for Pakistan’s foreign policy. The looming threat of Climate Change has been brushed aside by political groups, even in the most developed parts of the world. Pakistan’s voice over the issue has not only been pertinent but also a symbol of Pakistan’s responsible role as an international actor. Pakistan needs to maintain its leadership role for the Global South.After the announcement regarding the establishment of Loss and Damage fund was made, Sherry Rehman clearly mentioned, “The establishment of a loss and damage fund is not charity. It is a down payment on our shared futures. It is a down payment on Climate Justice.” That is what the Global South has reiterated time and again. The fact that countries like Pakistan have a negligible carbon footprint, and their contribution in carbon emissions is negligible too, unveils the apathy of those like UK, US, and Japan if they do not pay for their seriously high rate of emissions. The natural calamities, like the floods in Pakistan, are a consequence of how furiously the Global North has chased the dream of progress, ignoring the climatic costs of their heedless run. Billions of poor people in Asia and Africa, already starving and a subject of imperialistic exploitation of their regions, are at the brink of extermination due to environmental degradation. Their circumstances are not of their own making, but they are paying for the luxuries the rich of the world enjoy. It is high time that a collective attempt at making the Global North pay for their actions is made.As Pakistan heads for achieving reparations for the havoc recent floods have wreaked, it has also assumed the greater responsibility of leading the Global South in its pursuit for Climate Justice. Pakistan will have a significantly central role in the politics of Global Climate Change in the future. It needs to be proactive in dealing with concerns at home and strengthening climate-related authorities and departments. The advance mechanisms of early warning and climate-resilient infrastructure will be the initial step towards dealing with Climate Change. Moreover, Pakistan’s foreign policy will have the climate agenda at the top in the days to come.

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