Loss and Damage Fund

COP27 ends with last-minute historic funding agreement

The last-minute agreement at the COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for a Loss and Damage Fund represents, as Pakistan’s Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman put it, the culmination of a 30-year campaign by less developed countries for \climate justice.’ After all, climate change is the result of conspicuous consumption by the industrialized countries, but its harmful effects are manifested in poor countries like Pakistan, which has just undergone its worst monsoon flooding because of precisely that climate change. The economic damage cannot be reversed, because lost production stays lost; crops once lost cannot be regrown. It seems only fair that industrialized countries pay for the rebuilding of infrastructure lost because of their irresponsibility. However, while the Loss and Damage Fund is a major achievement for the developing countries, the industrialized world should realize that it is no substitute for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, which caused the problem in the first place. COP27 did not extract any fresh commitments, on the lines of those at COP 21 in 2015 in Paris. COP27 also did not address the problem of how to handle greenhouse gases already emitted into the atmosphere. Without such a removal, there is nothing to prevent a rise in the global temperature too great for the planet to handle, as it has been doing so far.

However, Pakistan should not assume that there is a load of free money heading its way and its economic woes are going to go away once again. Pakistan should note how the IMF wants to know about how it spent the funds it was given for covid-19 relief. Pakistan should expect to have to account to donors for any money it gets, and it should also expect to have to fight over the quantum of damage, not to have its claims accepted, as donors will expect to pay only for actual damage suffered. To take an example, Pakistan should not be expected to be paid for all the losses it suffered during the recent floods, because the donor countries will argue that much of the loss was inevitable, and the fault of those living much of the loss was inevitable, and the fault of those living in monsoonal flood areas. Pakistan should also remember that this aid will not be a one-off bit of assistance, but a fixture for the foreseeable fixture, and likely to become the main vehicle of foreign aid. It seems, therefore, that the real work of tackling climate change will only now begin.

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The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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