The Climate Catastrophe
“The climate crisis is the defining issue of our time. It must be the first priority of every government and multilateral organization. And yet climate action is being put on the back burner – despite overwhelming public support around the world.”
These words uttered by UN Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, in his address to the General Assembly vividly depict the state of climate crisis – and (in)action.
There are no two opinions that climate crisis is the defining issue of our time. The effects of this global phenomenon are being witnessed in all corners of the world. Recent catastrophic floods in Pakistan, hurricanes in Cuba and the United States, typhoons and cyclones in Southeast Asia, extreme weather conditions in Europe, and long heatwaves witnessed in South Asian countries are but some manifestations of the climate catastrophe that is right upon us, and more worrying is the fact that once-in-a-lifetime climate shocks may soon become once-a-year events.
So, the warnings that have been issued by environmental experts, including the United Nations agencies, over the years are now coming out as an open reality. It must be noted here that in November 2018, the United Nations warned that “the world is losing the environmental war.” Although around 120 countries, at the Glasgow Climate Summit (COP26) in early November 2021, pledged to keep the global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the goal is still elusive despite the fact that failure to correct environmental issues can lead to new epidemics, earthquakes, storms and untold disasters. That’s why the UN Secretary-General had made a painful appeal to world leaders to play their part to save humanity.
It is an established fact that the planet is burning due to climate change and that it is the developed nations, especially G20 countries, which are responsible for around 80 percent of the toxic-gas emission. The honorbale Secretary-General stated an indubitable fact when, in his address to UNGA, he said, “The G20 emits 80 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. But the poorest and most vulnerable – those who contributed least to this crisis – are bearing its most brutal impacts.”
However, it is, indeed, a travesty of justice that most brunt is being borne by the developing world! Pakistan and other such countries are suffering the worst effects. Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, rightly pointed out in his address to the world leaders at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly that Pakistan is facing the most devastating floods in its history and this disaster is due to the flawed policies adopted by the developed world. Despite the fact that Pakistan’s share is not even one percent, we are among the ten countries in the world that suffer the most from the devastating effects of air pollution caused by these gases. The premier said, “The undeniable truth is that the calamity has not been triggered by anything we have done,” adding that “Nature has unleashed her fury on Pakistan without looking at our carbon footprint, which is next to nothing. Our actions did not contribute to this.”
Although the world community has lent a helping hand to Pakistan to cope with the disastrous impacts of floods, yet it is not generosity on their part but a basic requirement of justice. However, the real justice, in the words of federal minister for climate change, Ms Sherry Rehman, is that these countries “owe reparations to countries facing climate disaster.”
It is a bitter yet undeniable truth that the global climate crisis, with the passage of time, is becoming more serious and more evident and the consequences of it are being borne by countries like Pakistan. Undoubtedly, the international community should adopt a common plan of action and provide aid on a priority basis to countries facing severe climate change threats. According to experts, global warming is many times dangerous and it is the first problem of the entire humanity. We cannot turn a blind eye to this serious problem.