Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC, more commonly referred to as COP27, generated a historic breakthrough this year with the active advocacy of Pakistan. There is an evident schism between the Global South and North, with the South bearing the brunt of the greenhouse gas emitters concentrated in the Global North. Hence, the recent COP27 that lasted almost two weeks, from 6–18 November 2022, in Egypt played a crucial role in bringing together the rich, developed countries and the climatically most vulnerable countries divided by the North-South binary. Although donor agencies and international platforms acted promptly for rescue and rehabilitation during the recent flood in Pakistan, the scale of the climate disaster was enormous. Therefore, Pakistan stood in need to ask for compensation from the Global North. The notion of compensation raised by Pakistan resonated with the magnitude of droughts in Ethiopia and Yemen. Thus, at COP 27, Pakistan emerged as an active advocate for compensation for losses to the Global South incurred by the actions of the Global North. Ultimately, in light of the recent climate-change-induced damage to vulnerable countries, the subcategory of “loss and damage” has been agreed upon for the first time.
The notion of compensation raised by Pakistan resonated with the magnitude of droughts in Ethiopia and Yemen. Thus, at COP 27, Pakistan emerged as an active advocate for compensation for losses to the Global South incurred by the actions of the Global North.
COP27 had a variety of topics, including financial loss, climate finance, adaptation, and mitigation on its agenda that fell directly under the main agenda of “climate justice”. The conference had direct relevance to Pakistan and other climatically vulnerable countries because of the rampant and prevailing climate injustice. The Climate Minister of Pakistan, Sherry Rahman, maintained a pragmatic and active approach. She attended 22 events at the conference hosted by the Pakistani pavilion. Pakistan went there with the slogan “What happens in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan,” which grabbed the world’s attention. Shahbaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, was addressed as the summit’s vice chair, given the recent climate disaster in the country in the form of a massive flood. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s address to the gathering emphasised the mechanisms to ensure compensation for the climate-change-induced damage caused to a country like Pakistan triggered by rich countries’ actions.
Pakistan spearheaded the call to action aimed at the wealthy nations to compensate poor countries for a crisis the latter did not substantially cause. The passionate call to action was met by the participating states through their commitment to make a “loss and damage fund” for the vulnerable countries. Pakistan will be a “pathfinder” for the Global Shield Against Climate Action, a multimillion-euro program to protect vulnerable countries from climate disasters. Pakistan will also be the first country to use the program to gather data on climate-related damages. Svenja Schulze, the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, praised Pakistan’s leadership.
In spite of the fact that the negotiated text acknowledged the need for financial support from a variety of sources, no decisions have been made regarding who should pay into the fund, where this money will come from, or which countries will benefit. There has been a lot of back and forth during negotiations over this particular issue. Adapting to the climate crisis could cost developing countries between USD 160 billion and USD 340 billion annually by 2030. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) 2022 Adaptation Gap Report, that number could reach USD 565 billion by 2050 if climate change accelerates.
There are concerns that political unrest and a weak governance system in middle and lower-middle-income countries like Pakistan will affect the proper and effective delivery of finance given by the Global North in the aftermath of climate justice. Who will receive it and under what conditions; has not yet been decided yet. But it could be addressed through Pakistan’s suggestion that a global climate risk index of all parties be created through the UN. The concerns about corruption and mismanagement of the funds are genuine, but they can be handled through joint oversight and audit mechanisms embedded by the UN. Climate change is a cause that could lead to food crises and people having to move because of the weather.
Pakistan’s case of loss and damage suffered at COP27 is commendable. All other vulnerable countries must come together to make it possible for the loss and damage fund to become a real pool of hope for affected countries to meet their losses through this fund soon. The world is already on the verge of a man-made disaster. COP27’s commitment to compensation is a baby step toward a transformational shift in the flow of capacities, finance, and technology that can reverse the pyramid of climate capital. It will help meet the bargain between the North and the South. Pakistan has shown that commitment to the cause of global climate can lead to a better stage of diplomacy and persuasion.