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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