As COP27 kicked off in Egypt, a historic decision was made—for the first time, parties in the negotiations reached a consensus to include funding for loss and damage as an official agenda item. Sherry Rahman, the Pakistani Minister for Climate Change, called this a great success. “Pakistan’s position on loss and damage is very clear,” she said over Twitter.
“We have been fighting with a large group[…] to get it on agenda […] I think it is an important victory that it is finally been acknowledged by not just UNFCCC but also a viable item into the agenda that the countries on the edge of climate disaster, facing incredible losses and damages, and we are from the edge of that presides really appreciating UNFCCC for facilitating this but also the fact that the global North has tried to reset the broken bargain by allowing it on agenda.
While the addition of “Loss and Damage” into the discussion agenda is a significant milestone, it’s important to acknowledge the previously broken climate finance promises of wealthy countries. The most crucial being the provision of $100 billion annually to poor countries by 2020.
This promise fell short, where up till 2020, the total fund provided has been $83 billion . Moreover, most of that funding is provided in the form of loans to poorer countries, which must be repaid. It is thus being felt that the current policies of these countries will warm the planet almost twice as fast, bringing the world to the tipping point of severe climate-induced natural disasters.
In the first week of COP27, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, minister of foreign affairs, expressed his views about grants and aid while talking to the media. “The money for reconstruction and rehabilitation should not be in the form of grants and aid. I do hope to be able to provide public Private Partnership opportunities and investments in renewable energy and investment,” he said.
This lack of climate finance is already visible in Pakistan. This year, the country saw the worst flood of the century where millions were displaced, standing corps were destroyed, and thousands of animals had been washed away. The damage and loss due to the flood was estimated to be more than $30 billion.
Pakistan is among those developing countries that have a small hand in the climate crisis. Despite this, Pakistan, like other developing countries, is set to witness worsened climate disasters. According to IPCC’s sixth report, climate disasters for developing countries will worsen with the rising temperatures, increasing likelihood of heat waves across Asia, droughts in arid and semi-arid areas of West, Central, and South Asia, floods in monsoon regions in South, Southeast, and East Asia, and glacier melting in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region. With impacts already on the way, these disasters would lead to climate change-induced migration and displacement.
This threat of climate disasters as well as Pakistan’s vulnerability did not go unnoticed by the Secretary-General António Guterres at COP27. He said, “If there is any doubt about loss and damage, go to Pakistan. There is loss and there is damage. And this COP, we need to recognize it and need to define a clear roadmap to deal with it. This should include the creation of an institutional framework and financing in order to address the problems of loss and damage.”
He added that Pakistan deserves massive support directly from the international community, while reviewing the way the international financial system has been working, in order for Pakistan to have access to effective debt relief and concessional funding needed to support the large reconstruction and rehabilitations needed.
Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, on his two-day visit to COP27 reiterated the need to clearly define “climate finance,” and the need to make such transfers sustained and transparent to meet the needs of developing and vulnerable countries, with a speed and scale that is acquired. “For instance, there should now be total clarity on what it will count as a climate transfer and what counts as development fines, as they often overlap, ” he said.
Sharif continued to critically evaluate the slow process and double standard of the Global North.
“We have been talking for years but have failed in agreeing on the basics. Pledges made at COP25 at Copenhagen, for globalizing hundred billion dollars per annum by 2020 have still not been realized.” He suggested creation of a global climate risk index of all parties under the UNFCCC, based on which prioritized and speedy approvals of climate finance could be extended to the most vulnerable countries. He also focused on reviving mitigation ambitions in a clear burden-share formula.
“We are asking for climate justice and our helplessness should not become a death sentence,” the Prime Minister added
Staying optimistic of the negotiations while being clear on Pakistan’s stand on the climate crisis, Sherry Rehman added, “Pakistan faces a huge exogenous shock to its economy from climate change. The International financial system is no longer wired to meet the accelerated needs of grant-based financing. There will be a great disappointment if no Loss and Damage facility is announced.”
This story was produced with the support of Climate Tracker’s COP27 Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship.