‘A form of colonialism’: Activists demand climate reparations | Climate Crisis News

Of Pakistan catastrophic floods has led to renewed calls for pollution-rich nations to grow their economies through increased use of fossil fuels to offset developing nations for the devastating effects of caused by the climate crisis.

The currently favored term for this concept is “loss and damage” payments, but some campaigners want to go further and define the issue as “climate compensation”.

In addition to tougher vocabulary, green groups are also calling for debt relief for cash-strapped countries, which are forced to spend a large portion of their budgets servicing external loans rather than setting aside funds to raise money. resilience for a rapidly changing planet.

“There is a historical precedent not only in the Industrial Revolution leading to increased emissions and carbon pollution, but also in the history of colonialism,” said Belgian-based climate activist Meera Ghani. and the history of exploitation of resources, wealth and labor”.

“The climate crisis is a manifestation of intertwined systems of oppression and it is a form of colonialism,” said Ghani, Pakistan’s former climate negotiator.

INTERACTIVE_Pakistan Floods_Sindh2
Flood victims due to monsoon rains walk with livestock in Sehwan, Sindh, Pakistan [File: Pervez Masih/AP]

These arguments date back decades and were first presented by small island states vulnerable to rising sea levels – but momentum is building again after this summer. catastrophic floods in pakistanfueled by unprecedented monsoon rains.

Nearly 1,600 people were killed, several million displaced and the cash-strapped government estimated the damage in the region at $30 billion.

Beyond mitigation and adaptation

Campaigners point to the fact that the most climate-vulnerable countries in the Global South are the ones least responsible. Pakistan, for example, produce less more than 1% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared with the G20 countries accounting for 80%.

International climate response now includes a two-pronged approach: “mitigation” – meaning reduction heat trap greenhouse gas – and “adapt”, meaning the steps to change the system and improve the infrastructure to the changes have been limited.

Calls for “loss and damage” payments go beyond adaptation funding, and seek compensation for extreme weather impacts that countries cannot tolerate.

Now, however, even the more modest target of adaptation financing is wearing off.

In 2009, the world’s advanced economies agreed to transfer $100 billion to less developed countries by 2020 – a promise that was broken – even as most of the funds raised were raised. in the form of a loan.

“Our starting point is that the Global North is largely responsible for the state of our planet today,” said Maira Hayat, associate professor of peace and environmental studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. now.

“Why should countries with low GHG emissions ask them for aid – loans being the main form – with difficult repayment terms? If the language is offensive to some, the next step should be to find out why – do they argue history? Or the present-day consequences of accepting certain historical pasts? “


Not all in the climate sector are convinced.

Daanish Mustafa, professor of critical geography at King’s College London, said: “Beyond certain rhetorical points will get you nowhere.

While he has largely blamed Global North for the world’s current predicament, he said he is wary of presenting a narrative that might justify the actions of the Pakistani leadership and the choices made by the Pakistani leadership. policy choices they have made exacerbate this and other disasters.

Climate change protests
People join the Global Climate Strike to demand government action against global warming [Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

A team of climate scientists from World Weather Attribution found that climate change could contribute to flooding.

But the devastating effects are also driven “by the proximity of human settlements, the infrastructure [homes, buildings, bridges] and farmland to floodplains,” among other local drivers, they said.

Pakistan’s own emissions, while staying low Globallygrowing rapidly – ​​with benefits for a small class, Mustafa said, and the country should pursue an alternative low-carbon development path rather than “adopt the West” and harm itself yourself in this process.

The case for “loss and damage” payments received a boost recently with United Nations chief Antonio Guterres calling for “meaningful action” at the next global climate summit, COP27 in Egypt in November.

But the issue is sensitive for rich countries – particularly the United States, the largest GHG emitter in history – concerned that it could pave the way for regulatory action.

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