SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Tuesday sensitising the international community on the plight of flood-hit Pakistan, said the country needed additional funding, not debts, to rebuild a resilient and adaptive infrastructure as the financing gap was wideningfinancing gap was widening by the day, calling for climate finance for developing and vulnerable countries.
“We have to fight and rebuild a resilient and adaptive infrastructure which can only be done through additional funding, not loans and debt… But the gap is widening by the day. It is the duty of the global north to understand our plight,” the prime minister said in his National Statement at the COP27 summit held here.
He told the international gathering that climate change-induced catastrophic flooding in Pakistan had impacted 33 million people – the size of three European countries – with more than half being women and children.
He said that the floods had destroyed over 8,000 kilometres of highways, damaged more than 3,000 kilometers of railway tracks and washed away crops over four million acres. The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment is estimated over US$30 billion in loss and damage, he added. He said Pakistan suffered the man-made disaster despite less than one percent contribution to the carbon footprint.
He told the gathering that the flood-hit Pakistan had to import wheat, palm oil, and “very expensive” oil and gas spending around $32 billion dollars. The country had also redirected its resources to meet the basic needs of millions of flood-affected households.
He said Pakistan was spending billions of dollars from its own resources to provide shelter, homes, medical aid and food package to millions of people. “How one can expect us to carry out this gigantic task on our own?” he questioned and thanked the international community for extending support to Pakistan for the relief of flood survivors.
Highlighting Pakistan’s priorities, the prime minister emphasised prioritising the Global Goal on Adaptation both in terms of financing and timelines. The current financing gap is too high to sustain any real recovery needs of those on the frontlines of climate catastrophe, he added.
Secondly, he said the Loss and Damage needed to be part of the core agenda of COP 27 to meet the pressing humanitarian needs of those who were trapped in a crisis of public financing fuelled by debt and yet have to fund climate disasters on their own.
Thirdly, Prime Minister Shehbaz called for clearly defining climate finance as new, additional and sustained resources with a transparent mechanism to meet the needs of developing and vulnerable countries with the required speed and scale.
“We have been talking for years. But have failed to even agree on the basics. Pledges made at the Copenhagen COP 15 in 2009 for mobilising US$00 billion per annum by 2020 have still not been realised. They need to be enhanced given the increased frequency and intensity of climate extreme events,” he urged.
Moreover, the prime minister also called for the creation of a Global Climate Risk Index of all parties of the UNFCCC where the projects from the most vulnerable countries must get prioritised and speedy approvals for climate finance. Besides, he said the mitigation ambition needed to be revived in a clear burden-share formula.
He said Pakistan’s 2030 ambition in the NDCs were already higher than many countries and that the country was heading towards a Net Zero plan. Prime Minister Shehbaz said the COP27 summit rang an alarm bell for humanity as it was the only platform where the vulnerable countries took their case to the rich and the resourced, to build a common purpose for justice, carbon neutrality and a roadmap to crucial policy resets.
He said the bargain between the North and the South would not work unless there was a transformational shift in the flow of capacities, finances and technology that reversed the pyramid of climate capital.
He said the COP might have a real chance to find common ground toward achieving the objectives of the Convention and the Paris Agreement. “It is now or never. For us there is indeed no Planet B,” he concluded.
Separately, addressing a high-level segment of COP 27 titled “Climate Change and Sustainability of Vulnerable Communities”, the prime minister underlined the need for collective efforts, sharing of resources and technology with the vulnerable countries like Pakistan which had braced the worst devastation caused by climate induced floods.
Shehbaz stressed that climate change impacts had provided an opportunity to the global community to seize upon and chart a course to secure its future and support the vulnerable communities in countries like Pakistan.
The roundtable was co-chaired by the prime minister with his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store. Sharing the details of the Post-disaster Needs Assessment, Shehbaz stated that public debt, rising international energy prices, and no real access to adaptation resources, among other factors, were the key challenges which impeded Pakistan’s recovery and rehabilitation efforts. He invited the international community to join in Pakistan’s efforts towards climate resilient recovery.
He elaborated that the country was still going through a phase of rehabilitation and reconstruction, while the stagnant flood water posed a danger to the health of thousands of children and their parents as the flood-hit population was suffering from serious diseases like malaria and dysentery. The prime minister also acknowledged the support provided by the world community and friendly countries to the flood-affected population of Pakistan.
The prime minister highlighted that it was for the first time that the COP had agreed to formally discuss funding arrangements for loss and damage, achieved through persistent push by the developing countries under Pakistan’s chairmanship of Group of 77 and China.
Appreciating the significance of the “Global Shield Against Climate Risks” initiative, the prime minister called for renewed international solidarity and cooperation to address the impacts of climate change.
The prime minister highlighted his government’s efforts to provide relief to the flood-hit populace through the social security network of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and with which they immediately transferred cash amounts to the affected population.
Later, in his concluding remarks at the session, the prime minister said that developing countries like Pakistan had been suffering immensely due to natural calamities and that they had limited resources to overcome the challenges. He said the developing countries were also short of resources to meet the basic requirement of a huge portion of population.
The prime minister also attended a high-level roundtable at COP-27 on the “Scaling up Action and Support on Losses and Damages – the Global Shield Against Climate Risks”. The event was jointly hosted by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo on the significant topic of Loss and Damage associated with climate change.