Beautiful Hollywood star Angelina Jolie is known for her international humanitarian work as the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. A winner of multiple awards including one Oscar and three Golden Globes, she is among the highest paid actors in the world. Jolie is currently visiting Pakistan to bring global attention to the immense suffering caused by devastating floods in the country, particularly in its southern Sindh province.
Pakistan is dealing with the aftermath of the worst floods in the country's history. Over 1500 Pakistanis are dead. About 33 million people in two southern provinces are homeless. Sindh is inundated with 784% of normal rainfall so far this year. Balochistan has seen 522% of average rainfall. Both provinces suffered their worst ever heatwave prior to this unprecedented deluge. Nearly a million livestock have been lost, over two million acres of farmland is underwater and 90% of the crops in Sindh and Balochistan have been damaged.
|UN Sec Gen Antonio Guterres|
The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described the unprecedented flooding in Pakistan as “a monsoon on steroids" that has created a massive humanitarian crisis. The country can not deal with it alone. He said Pakistan "is drowning not only in floodwater, but in debt.” Mr. Guterres has called for debt relief for developing nations such as Pakistan. “The Debt Service Suspension Initiative should be extended – and enhanced. We also need an effective mechanism of debt relief for developing countries – including middle income countries – in debt distress. Creditors should consider debt reduction mechanisms such as debt-climate adaptation swaps.
It will take hundreds of millions of dollars to provide immediate relief to 33 million people, followed by tens of billions of dollars in assistance to rebuild the lives and livelihoods and the infrastructure destroyed by this catastrophe. Pakistan's gross capital formation is only 15% of its GDP. Among the world’s top 20 economies by population, only Egypt has a lower rate of gross capital formation than Pakistan, according to Bloomberg. It is time for the rich industrialized world to help developing nations such as Pakistan to deal with the massive impact of climate change.
|Low Gross Capital Formation in Pakistan. Source: Bloomberg|
Pakistan's population is about 2.6% of the world population. The nation has contributed just 0.28% of the cumulative global carbon emissions since 1750. It lacks the resources needed to deal with the consequences of this man-made disaster. The Industrial Revolution in Europe and the United States was fueled mainly by fossil fuels such as coal and oil believed to be responsible for climate change.
|Cumulative CO2 Emissions Since 1750. Source: Our World in Data|
Below is a map from Professor Jason Hickel showing that the countries in the global north are the biggest polluters while those in the global south are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
|Climate Injustice: Low Emitters Global South vs Big Polluters in Industrial North. Source: Prof J. Hickel|
After viewing the flood disaster in Pakistan Jolie said: "I have never seen anything like this. I have been to Pakistan many times. I came because of the generosity that Pakistani people have shown to the people of Afghanistan. Oftentimes those who have less give more than so many other countries. The climate change is not only real but it's here. This is a wakeup call to the world about where we are. The countries that have not done as much damage to climate are the ones that are bearing the brunt. The needs in Pakistan are now so great. I appeal to the world to help. Many of the victims here will not make it without a lot of help."
Here are some more excerpts from her press conference in Pakistan:
"I feel overwhelmed but I feel it is not fair to say that since I am not living this."
"I've never seen anything like this and I have been to Pakistan many times"
"I came because of the generosity that Pakistani people have shown to the people of Afghanistan over the years...My heart is very very much with people at this time.”
"It is often seen that the countries that don't have as much give more than so many other countries"
"I am absolutely with you in pushing the international community to do more. I feel that we say that often... we speak of aid appeals, relief and support but this is something very, very different"
"Climate change is not only real and it is not only coming, it is here,"
"I've seen the lives that were saved but I've also seen... I've been speaking to people and thinking that if enough aid doesn't come they won't be here in next few weeks... they won't make it"
"Even if they make it next few months with the winter coming and the destruction of the crops and the hard reality ... I am overwhelmed but I feel it is not fair to say that because I am not living this so I simply try to speak out for help. I can't even imagine what it feels like to be there"
"I will return and continue to return and my heart is very, very much with the people at this time"
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