Floods in Pakistan: Biggest Global Polluters US, Europe, China and India Must Accept Responsibility

Pakistan, a country that has contributed only 0.28% of the CO2 emissions, is among the biggest victims of climate change. The US, Europe, India, China and Japan, the world's biggest polluters, must accept responsibility for the catastrophic floods in Pakistan and climate disasters elsewhere. A direct link of the disaster in Pakistan to climate change has been confirmed by a team of 26 scientists affiliated with World Weather Attribution, a research initiative that specializes in rapid studies of extreme events, according to the New York Times

Top 5 Current Polluters. Source: Our World in Data

Currently, the biggest annual CO2 emitters are China, the US, India and Russia. Pakistan's annual CO2 emissions add up to just 235 million tons. On the other hand, China contributes 11.7 billion tons, the United States 4.5 billion tons, India 2.4 billion tons, Russia 1.6 billion tons and Japan 1.06 billion tons. 

Pakistan's Annual CO2 Emission. Source: Our World in Data

The United States has contributed 399 billion tons (25%) of CO2 emissions, the highest cumulative carbon emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century. The 28 countries of the European Union (EU28), including the United Kingdom, come in second with 353 billion tons of CO2 (22%), followed by China with 200 billion tons (12.7%). 

Cumulative CO2 Emissions. Source: Our World in Data

Pakistan's cumulative CO2 contribution in its entire history is just 4.4 billion tons (0.28%). Among Pakistan's neighbors, China's cumulative contribution is 200 billion tons (12.7%),  India's 48 billion tons (3%) and Iran's 17 billion tons (1%).  

Developing Asian Nations' CO2 Emissions. Source: Our World in Data

Pakistan has contributed little to climate change but it has become one of its biggest victims. In the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, signatories agreed to recognize and “address” the loss and damage caused by those dangerous climate impacts, according to the Washington Post. Last year, at the major U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, negotiators from developing countries tried to establish a formal fund to help the countries like Pakistan most affected by climate disasters. It was blocked by rich countries led by the Biden administration. 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on September 26, 2022 at 2:34pm

Pakistan burns only 10 billion MMcf of coal


10 Countries with the Highest Total Coal Consumption in the World (million cubic feet)

China — 4,320 billion MMcf
India — 966 billion MMcf
United States — 731 billion MMcf
Germany — 257 billion MMcf
Russia — 230 billion MMcf
Japan — 210 billion MMcf
South Africa — 202 billion MMcf
South Korea — 157 billion MMcf
Poland — 149 billion MMcf
Australia — 130 billion MMcf

https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/coal-consumption...

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 26, 2022 at 5:21pm

Pakistan’s Biblical Floods and the Case for Climate Reparations
Isn’t it time for rich nations to pay the communities that they have helped to drown?
By Mohammed Hanif

https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-a-warming-planet/pakistans...

We have tried, in various ways, to convey to the world the scale of destruction caused by recent floods in Pakistan, because, apparently, a third of the country underwater and thirty-three million lives upended doesn’t cut it. Pakistan’s climate minister has called it Biblical. We have shot and shared videos in which the landmark New Honeymoon Hotel crumbles in the duration of a TikTok. The U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres, who is seventy-three and has called the climate crisis a “code red for humanity,” visited Pakistan and said that he hadn’t seen this scale of climate carnage in his life. Some of us have created maps showing that the areas underwater are larger than Britain. We have shown pictures of dead and starving cattle to appeal to animal-lovers. We have posted videos of puppies being heroically rescued from rushing waters.

Maybe when the world seems to be ending, it needs poets. A poet in Khairpur, in southern Pakistan, one of the worst-affected areas, was asked by a journalist if he had received a tent to shelter his family. He found the idea so improbable that he asked, “Why are you making fun of me? Why would anyone give me a tent?” Pakistanis are saying that charity tents and emergency supplies are welcome, but what we need and want is compensation for climate-related loss and damage. Although much of the world seems to agree in principle, there is a we-have-all-heard-this-before weariness in the air. Our innovative communications have little impact. The U.S. has offered fifty million dollars and “long-term” support, the U.N. has appealed for a hundred and sixty million, France has offered to hold a donors’ conference, Angelina Jolie has flown in and said that she’s never seen such devastation. President Biden casually mentioned at the U.N. General Assembly that Pakistan “needs help,” without any specifics. This all sounds like a lot until you remember that Pakistan’s losses are estimated to be around thirty billion dollars.

Experts have pointed out that this is not the kind of flood that causes weeks of havoc and then leaves behind fertile lands. Six months from now, flooded fields still may not be ready for cultivation. Most people affected by the floods live off the land, from crop to crop. Waterborne diseases and food shortages are already rampant. Climate scientists who have studied Pakistani floods have concluded that they can only predict more unpredictability.

Scientists are clear, however, that the catastrophe in Pakistan is linked to global warming. Pakistan generates less than one per cent of the world’s carbon emissions. We are quite good at blaming ourselves and our governments for our misfortunes, but global warming is overwhelmingly caused by rich folks living thousands of miles away, mostly in the West, by people who know that their air-conditioned homes and midsize cars and Caribbean holidays have snatched away the home and livelihood of someone in a village in Pakistan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 26, 2022 at 5:21pm

Pakistan’s Biblical Floods and the Case for Climate Reparations
Isn’t it time for rich nations to pay the communities that they have helped to drown?
By Mohammed Hanif

https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-a-warming-planet/pakistans...


The West sees its culpability in this man-made disaster but prefers to blame the victim. I think of a fable that I grew up with, in which a lamb drinks from a river downstream until a lion accuses it of polluting the river upstream. In the version of the fable that I remember, the lion eats the lamb as punishment. Imagine this: the driver of an S.U.V. speeds into a country lane, hits a person on a bicycle, and then, instead of paying damages, asks the cyclist to drive an electric vehicle powered by renewable energy. The driver of the S.U.V. wonders why the cyclist wasn’t more resilient, and asks, “Why didn’t you plan for a future where my car might come and destroy your bicycle and break your leg? You could have prepared for a better future, for apocalyptic floods, but what did you do? You prepared a petition for reparations? And you don’t even have a practical plan for how these reparations would work?”

Those calling for climate reparations received an answer from America’s climate envoy, John Kerry, at the U.N. General Assembly last week. “You tell me the government in the world that has trillions of dollars, ’cause that’s what it costs,” he said, perhaps steeling himself for difficult questions at November’s global climate conference, cop27, in Egypt. Western governments do have trillions of dollars, and they have had more than a decade to think through how climate reparations should work. Kerry sounded like he was haggling over the price of life jackets with drowning people.

Maybe Pakistan could have handled the current floods better if we had done our homework. We had a massive flood in 2010, experts were flown in, reports and studies were commissioned and then shelved. But Pakistan, like its Western allies, had other priorities: we were busy in neighboring Afghanistan, helping America defeat the Taliban, or maybe helping the Taliban defeat America—we are still not sure. On the other border, we were busy with India. Even in the week of our Biblical floods, we managed to finalize a deal with the United States worth four hundred and fifty million dollars, to upgrade our F-16 fighter planes. We may not know how we are going to feed our people for the next six months, but we have made sure that we can keep them safe from hostile aircraft.

Like Westerners, Pakistani élites planned for security and progress. We turned agricultural lands into golf courses and gated communities, and built houses on riverbeds, and grew cash crops along waterways. We thought less about the millions who live in mud houses, who till someone else’s land to feed their kids and save a bit in hopes of sending them to school one day. Now the water has turned their houses back into mud, and washed away the grain that they stocked for the entire year, and flooded the land that still belongs to someone else. They dare not dream of justice, let alone climate justice.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 26, 2022 at 5:22pm

Pakistan’s Biblical Floods and the Case for Climate Reparations
Isn’t it time for rich nations to pay the communities that they have helped to drown?
By Mohammed Hanif

https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-a-warming-planet/pakistans...

Experts tell us that the world suffers from donor fatigue, what with a war in Ukraine, in which people with fair skin and blue eyes are fleeing their homes and fighting for their lives. What goes unsaid is that hearts have been hardened by repeated images of brown mothers cradling skeletal children who are covered in flies, along overflowing rivers or scorched fields. Or maybe rich nations think that they should save their money for when the disasters come for them.

Sometimes my own compatriots tell the world, If you don’t listen, it could happen to you. The West seems unfazed by this logic: climate carnage has happened there, is happening there. Perhaps the West fears that if it acknowledges any debt to a country like Pakistan, it will no longer be able to withhold what it owes its own citizens. A childhood friend lived in Lake Charles, Louisiana, for most of his life, and in the span of a year his house and business were destroyed thrice, first by Hurricane Laura, then snow, then flooding. He reluctantly put his house up for sale, moved to Los Angeles, and slowly started to build a life. The aid that the government promised to Lake Charles hasn’t arrived. After Hurricane Maria, hundreds of thousands of Americans in Puerto Rico were denied federal assistance. They were still vulnerable when Hurricane Fiona brought floods and blackouts again, this week. The lamb does not escape the lion by showing a U.S. passport.


A global climate movement has made people aware of their carbon footprint, of the impact of their eating habits, of the evils of fossil-fuel companies, but it has yet to convince people that they and their governments can and should pay for what they helped to destroy. They must, because the losses and damages will only grow, and because the West became rich from the burning of fossil fuels, and because the village that is drowning may one day be their own.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 26, 2022 at 5:22pm

Pakistan’s Biblical Floods and the Case for Climate Reparations
Isn’t it time for rich nations to pay the communities that they have helped to drown?
By Mohammed Hanif

https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-a-warming-planet/pakistans...

When rich nations refuse to acknowledge that countries such as Pakistan need climate reparations, they not only shirk their responsibility now but set a precedent of inaction and impunity, even within their own borders. They seem to say, We can build walls so high that the polluted air will only poison you. When it melts glaciers, only you will drown, and when your fields are flooded, only you will go hungry. We can give you a few thousand tents to shelter your millions, or rafts to float you over what used to be self-sustaining villages, but we don’t owe you anything. If it happens to us, rich countries seem to say, we won’t starve. We can always eat you. ♦

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 29, 2022 at 7:13am

#FloodsInPakistan2022: The poorest hit hardest. Deep inside #Pakistan’s disaster zone, the country’s worst floods in recorded history have underscored how the poor, both here & abroad, are often disproportionately exposed to the ravages of #climate change. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/29/pakistan-floods-cli...

The worst-hit parts of Pakistan are also some of its poorest. Rural Sindh province has some of the lowest literacy rates in the country, severely limited access to health care, and minimal infrastructure.

Political power in the province has been dominated for generations by its largest landowners. In many areas, the landowners are not only the main sources of employment but also the elected leaders.

“We can’t oppose our leaders because we are dependent on them for everything,” Gadehi said. “They visit us during elections and make promises, but we get nothing in return.”

-----

When the heavy monsoon rains entered their second week in July with no sign of relenting, Amina Gadehi knew the floods would be different this year. She and a group of other villagers approached the village’s elected leader, asking that they be allowed to temporarily camp on a plot of higher ground that he owned.

“He told us: ‘I’m not responsible for you. Find your own shelter,’” Gadehi recalled, clenching her jaw in anger.

She and dozens of others in her village had no savings to pay for travel or to temporarily rent another place. They stayed in their homes, hoping the rains would relent. But as the water began to lap over their windowsills, Gadehi and her family decided it was their last chance to escape. For nearly an hour, Gadehi recounted, she and her husband, their five children and the few cows and buffalo they managed to save waded through waist-high water to a relative’s house in another village on slightly higher land.


Now they are stuck there, surrounded by water. The only boats that can rescue them aren’t large enough for their livestock — too precious to be left behind.

Thousands of families like Gadehi’s have been stranded in villages that turned into islands. The floods have killed about 1,500 people, according to the Pakistani government, and displaced tens of thousands.

Long before the government declared a national emergency in August, people here in Sindh province were begging local officials to act — to help relocate families and livestock and to reinforce levees to divert water — according to dozens who survived the floods.

But they said, in many cases, they were left to fend for themselves until it was too late.

Warnings weren’t enough
Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s climate change minister, said a national emergency wasn’t declared sooner because officials didn’t know the downpour would continue for so long. “I don’t think any administration or government could have been prepared for a biblical flood like this,” she said in an interview. “There was no modeling for what we saw.”

She said officials in her ministry and other government agencies began to fear unusually severe flooding as early as June, but she added that it wasn’t until August that they realized the magnitude of the crisis. “The meteorological department began telling me, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this,’” she said. “I started getting calls late at night, everyone was saying ‘We are just in shock.’”

Ahsan Iqbal, who heads Pakistan’s national flood response center, said the government could not have been better prepared or acted faster to respond to the crisis once it began to unfold. “The scale of the calamity is so huge, it’s just beyond the administrative and financial resources of a country like Pakistan,” said Iqbal, who is also Pakistan’s planning minister. “There is no way we could have mitigated this level of damage.”

Iqbal said that he believes a series of early evacuation warnings saved thousands of lives. “The death toll could have been at least three to four times more if not for the early weather warning system,” he said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 30, 2022 at 7:12am

#UN to seek $800 million more in aid for #flood-hit #Pakistan “to respond to the extraordinary scale of the devastations” #FloodsInPakistan #ClimateCrisis https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/un-to-seek-800-million-more-in...

The United Nations will seek $800 million more in aid from the international community to respond to soaring life-saving needs of Pakistani flood survivors, a U.N. official said Friday.

The unprecedented deluges — likely worsened by climate change — have killed 1,678 people in Pakistan since mid-June. About half a million survivors are still living in tents and makeshift shelters.

Julien Harneis, the U.N. resident coordinator in Pakistan, told reporters in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, that the latest appeal will be issued from Geneva on Tuesday. It comes just weeks after the agency sought $160 million in emergency funding for 33 million people affected by floods.

Harneis said the U.N. decided to issue the revised appeal “to respond to the extraordinary scale of the devastations” caused by the floods. Pakistan’s displaced are now confronting waterborne and other diseases, he said. The outbreaks, health officials say, have caused more than 300 deaths so far.

Since July, several countries and U.N. agencies have sent more than 130 flights carrying aid for the flood victims, many of whom complain they have either received too little help or are still waiting for aid.

Officials and experts have blamed the rains and resulting floodwaters on climate change. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited some of the flood-hit areas earlier this month. He has repeatedly called on the international community to send massive amounts of aid to Pakistan.

The Pakistani government estimates the losses from the floods to be about $30 billion.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 30, 2022 at 4:33pm

Pakistan’s #flood crisis could be an opportunity for real change. Devastating floods have also hit #Florida. Considering the global nature of #climate challenge, at some point #US & #Pakistan must find the courage to work together on "Green Marshall Plan" https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/29/pakistan-flood-c...

This week, Americans are understandably focused on the hurricane-related flooding in Florida, which is causing tragedy for thousands. Yet there is little attention in the United States to the fact that Pakistan has been flooded since mid-June, a catastrophe that is still causing unspeakable suffering for tens of millions.


Both of these crises owe much to the same phenomenon — climate change. But aside from some limited aid, there’s scant U.S.-Pakistan cooperation on long-term solutions. That has to change, according to Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who was in the United States this week pitching his proposal for a “Green Marshall Plan.” In meetings with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and others, Zardari argued for a way those countries most responsible for climate change can help those countries most affected — and, in turn, help themselves.

It’s a big idea, and there are reasons for skepticism. But considering the global nature of the climate challenge, at some point the United States and Pakistan must find the courage to work together. In the process, the two countries might find a way back to being true allies, which would benefit both sides and balance China’s rising influence in the South Asia region.

“We have to find the opportunity in this crisis,” Zardari told me. “There are two ways of us going forward. We can do this dirtier, badly, in a way that will be worse for us and worse for the environment, or we can try to build back better in a greener, more climate-resilient manner.”

Zardari’s call for a “Green Marshall Plan” is meant to evoke America’s historical penchant for pursuing its enlightened self-interest. The idea also plays into President Biden’s own Build Back Better World concept. The theory is that Western government support for private-sector investment in climate-resilient, ecologically sustainable infrastructure in Pakistan would redound to the benefit of Western industry and help mitigate the future climate-related crises that are sure to come.

Florida will have several days of rain. In Pakistan, it rained for more than three months, submerging one-third of the country in a body of water than can be seen from space. The high floodwaters have created a cascade of problems, devastating Pakistan’s agriculture, manufacturing, trade and public health sectors.

Floods are almost a perennial occurrence in Pakistan, but this year’s continuing disaster is uniquely cataclysmic, impacting more than 33 million people (more than Florida’s entire population), including 16 million children and more than 600,000 pregnant women, according to the United Nations.

The flood and its aftereffects also risk throwing Pakistan right back into the economic crisis it was clawing its way out of. Pakistan was already on the hook to pay back $1 billion of the $10 billion it owes the Paris Club by the end of this year. Islamabad also owes some $30 billion to China. Now the country is being forced to borrow billions more to deal with the current situation.

The real question, Zardari said, is not whether the international community will come through with short-term aid and debt relief. The challenge is for the world to realize that Pakistan’s flood crisis won’t be the last or the worst, meaning the international response must take a far broader view.

In a world where covid-19, the Russia-Ukraine war and the worldwide economic slowdown are commanding the attention of policymakers in Western capitals, the bandwidth for new and expensive ideas is narrow. Zardari knows it’s a tough sell.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 30, 2022 at 4:34pm

Pakistan’s #flood crisis could be an opportunity for real change. Devastating floods have also hit #Florida. Considering the global nature of #climate challenge, at some point #US & #Pakistan must find the courage to work together on "Green Marshall Plan" https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/29/pakistan-flood-c...


In a world where covid-19, the Russia-Ukraine war and the worldwide economic slowdown are commanding the attention of policymakers in Western capitals, the bandwidth for new and expensive ideas is narrow. Zardari knows it’s a tough sell.

“I understand that the concept of a Green Marshall Plan might not have many players. But that doesn’t change the fact that I believe it genuinely is the solution,” he said. “We have to pause our geopolitical differences and unite to face this existential threat to mankind.”

The concept of investing in green infrastructure in a coordinated, global way is not new; but under the current plans, it’s not happening. Global promises to invest $100 billion in the Green Climate Fund for developing countries by 2020 have been broken.

And while humanitarian aid is not primarily about strategic competition, it is worth noting that China has its own project called the Green Silk Road, and that Beijing is pushing propaganda in Pakistan claiming it is more generous than the United States (which is not true). The need to counter Chinese influence was a big reason the White House hosted leaders of 14 Pacific Island nations this week, all of which are suffering disproportionately from climate change.

In Washington, Pakistan has become something of a pariah, following years of disagreements over Afghanistan and other issues. But the end of that war provides an opening for a rethink. To be sure, Pakistan’s democracy looks shaky at times — but then again, so does America’s. The two allies still share many long-term interests, and saving the planet should be at the top of the list.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 1, 2022 at 8:14pm

Sarah Colenbrander
@s_colenbrander
Consumption by the richest 1% accounts for 15% of CO2 emissions.

Consumption by the richest 10% accounts for around half of CO2 emissions.

Consumption by the poorest 50% accounts for just 10% of CO2 emissions.

Tackling climate change depends on tackling inequality.

https://twitter.com/s_colenbrander/status/1576132784338669569?s=20&...

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