Climate change is a new challenge to human security in the current era, adversely affecting multiple aspects, such as health and resources, as experienced in the recent floods in Pakistan. The extreme weather indicated climate change, preceded by an unprecedented monsoon with the heaviest recorded rains ever in the region. The havoc resulted in the loss of 1,717 lives, 33 million people affected, and massive infrastructure, crop, and livestock damage, adding to existing economic weaknesses.
The United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security has declared climate change “the most pressing issue of our time.” The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) also recognizes that climate change can potentially aggravate other drivers of insecurity, including water, energy, and food insecurity. The devastation caused by the massive floods in Pakistan has rekindled the global debate on climate justice.
The World Leaders Summit at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27), also known as the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2022, concluded on 20 November 2022 at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The summit aimed at advancing COP26 commitments to mitigate global warming. It was suggested that rich countries should assist poorer countries that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. At the COP27 summit, a historic decision was taken to establish a fund for loss and damage. UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres stated, “Together, let’s not relent in the fight for climate justice and ambition.” He added, “We can and must win this battle for our lives.”
Developing countries have already raised their concerns and warned that the increasing temperatures would strike them hardest, punishing those who historically contributed the least to global warming and have the fewest resources to combat it. The floods and other disasters in Pakistan make it hard to ignore the effects of climate change, the world is preparing for a confrontation over who should pay the price.
In this context, Pakistan has suggested that developed and more prosperous countries support developing and underdeveloped states. Senator Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s federal minister of climate change, supported the establishment of the “Loss and Damage Fund” for countries most vulnerable and impacted by the effects of climate change.
Internationally, this initiative is considered a significant achievement of the COP27 summit. Ambassador Munir Akram, Pakistan’s permanent representative at the UN stated, “For the developing countries that have experienced such an impact due to the policies of the industrialized countries over the past 150 years, this is a matter of climate justice.”
Against this backdrop, richer countries must take some effective measures to avoid any adverse effects of climate change in states like Pakistan, which are most vulnerable to floods, storms, hurricanes, and heat waves. The measures can be taken in both tangible and intangible forms. Financial aid and assistance can be the first step, enabling a state to strengthen its institutions, such as the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) in Pakistan. Pakistan accounts for less than one percent of global carbon dioxide emissions but is most vulnerable to climate change. It is also in the global interest to ensure climate change does not undermine weaker countries’ economic growth and stability, as climate change is a non-traditional security challenge that may harm a state’s national security. The government cannot develop and upgrade the nation’s living standards alone; enhancing Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) will be a significant advantage.
In the context of PPPs, Pakistan has been implementing various initiatives to mitigate the impacts of climate change, such as the development of renewable energy projects, the adoption of energy-efficient technologies and practices through incentives and tax breaks, carbon offsetting through clean development mechanisms, and green building practices.
Pakistan’s efforts and achievements in climate change mitigation include nature-oriented solutions, including protecting forests, restoring ecosystems, water management to reduce flood risks, and technology-based interventions such as renewable energy, advanced agriculture, and resilient infrastructure. Pakistan has made considerable efforts to restore natural capital through initiatives such as the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Program (TBTTP) and Protected Areas Initiative (PAI), the construction of dams, and many others. Pakistan is building dams that may also help mitigate climate change, such as the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams. However, several projects have been halted due to a lack of consensus. These projects can be materialized by removing barriers and building consensus among stakeholders. Pakistan seeks to increase the use of nuclear energy in electricity and power generation which will also reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Developed nations thrive on the synergy of the public and private sectors. A mechanism including government authorities and non-governmental organizations can thus effectively deal with disasters in developing countries to protect the environment. International organizations can also play their role. A collective approach at the global level will enable developing states to mitigate disasters and make their communities resilient and prepared. Financial and technical assistance for dam construction, food security, and technology and knowledge transfer will be helpful and pave the way for inclusive climate justice.