Law students and law graduates in Pakistan are reporting for JURIST on law-related events in and pertaining to their country. University of London law graduate Seemal Hameed files this dispatch from Islamabad.
Climate change is an existential threat to life on earth. The past eight years are on track to be the warmest on record, fuelled by ever-rising greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat. Adaptation efforts have reduced vulnerability, but the rise in temperature and climate extremes has already caused irreversible damage to nature. According to the World Meteorological Organization’s Provision State of Global Climate 2022 report, billions of people have been affected by extreme heatwaves and devasting flooding this year.
The poorest countries are paying the heaviest price and are the least able to cope with the devasting consequences of human-induced climate change. Developed countries with developed economies have the means and resources to reduce the risk and impact of climate change leaving developing countries at the highest risk of facing catastrophic damage.
Pakistan contributes less than 1 percent of global carbon emissions but has been consistently ranked as the top 10 most vulnerable countries on the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) to extreme weather events. The CCPI is an instrument to enable transparency in national and international climate politics; it uses a standardized framework to compare the climate performance of countries and monitor the implementation of Paris Agreement and climate change policies. Earlier this year Pakistan was flooded due to climate crisis in the unprecedented monsoon rainfall which killed nearly 1500 people, displaced more than 30 million, and caused infrastructural damage and economic loss worth billions. With an intensifying climate crisis, experts say that the monumental floods in Pakistan are what was predicted by climate projections for years and if not tackled correctly they will only get more frequent and extreme in the future.
COP27 and Climate Finance
In November, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) concluded with a decision to establish a loss and damage fund, a financial mechanism to fight climate change. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was nominated as the vice president at the COP27. This afforded Pakistan a significant position to make its case internationally for post-flood recovery support. PM Shahbaz urged the international community to facilitate the rehabilitation of flood victims and help Pakistan overcome the risks of climate change and highlighted the damage in the flood-affected areas. He stressed the urgency of climate solidarity and climate justice to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Pakistan is already going through an economic crisis, and with escalating public debt and limited funding it is pertinent to get external financial assistance to meet its climate targets and to protect the basic needs of the affected people. Climate finance is a core ingredient in achieving climate justice and the direct participation of Pakistan in the negotiations at COP27 proved to be an effective way to secure climate funding.
However, purely developmental assistance is not sufficient to deal with the existing calamity. Pakistan needs to create resilience for future natural disasters and must be ready to implement forward-thinking strategies and policies for challenges years ahead. The State must also focus on building internal capacity and strengthening established institutions and bodies tasked with tackling climate-related issues.
Moreover, due to a chaotic domestic political situation and concerns about corruption in the country it is imperative to keep the focus on internal reforms and the existing framework. The government must also ensure that climate financing is adequately used to mitigate the impacts of climate change in a productive and transparent manner to overcome any trust issues about disbursement of aid money.
Seemal Hameed is a JURIST Staff Correspondent from Pakistan. A University of London law graduate, she has worked as a Research Associate at a reputable law firm in Pakistan as well as for an NGO for the protection of children’s rights.