Pakistan floods: Experts criticize ‘cheap’ aid as they find role in climate crisis

The analysis, published Thursday by the World Weather Attribution Initiative, was unable to quantify exactly how much climate change was contributing to the floods — which were caused by several months of torrential rainfall in the region — but some of their models found that the crisis may have increased rainfall intensity by as much as 50 percent. %, when looking specifically at a five-day heavy rain hit Sindh and Balochistan provinces hard.

The analysis also found that flooding was more than likely a one-in-100-year event, meaning there is a 1% chance of similar heavy rains falling each year.

If the world’s temperature rises by two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures – as it does on its way – short rain bursts like those seen in the five-day period would likely become more intense. The Earth is about 1.2 degrees warmer than it was before industrialization.

The scale of the floods and the WWA analysis highlight the enormous financial need to address the impacts of the climate crisis.

“The kind of help that’s coming in now is very cheap,” Aisha Seddiqi, a geographer at the University of Cambridge, told reporters at a news conference. “A number of Western economies have argued that they have their own crises, due to the war in Ukraine and various other issues.”

She described the original UK aid of 1.5 million pounds ($1.7 million) as “laughable”.

However, the UK increased its pledge to 15 million pounds ($17 million) recently. The geographical area that is now Pakistan was part of the former British colony of India until 1947, when the British divided the land into two separate dominions.

The fully developed nations bear a much larger historical contribution to climate change than the developing world.

Siddiqui said the money coming into Pakistan pales in comparison to the aid that was sent after the deadly floods that hit the country in 2010.

“Big world news [in 2010] It was about “We must help Pakistan or the Islamists will win,” she said, explaining that there was fear in the West at the time that Islamist groups would exploit the consequences of the floods to recruit more members. “And that over time, of course, we don’t have the same geopolitical imperative to help Pakistan, so the assistance was really cheap.”

Pakistan is responsible for about 0.6% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, even though it makes up roughly 2.7% of the world’s population, according to the European Union’s Global Emissions Database. China is the world’s largest emitter, at 32.5%, and while the United States comes in second, at 12.6%, it is historically the largest emitter globally.

More than 33 million people in Pakistan have been affected by the floods, more than the population of Australia or Texas. The floods destroyed 1.7 million homes, washed away dozens of bridges, and turned green farmland into dust fields.

The United Nations estimates that recovery could cost about $30 billion, roughly equal to the value of the country’s annual exports.

what’s coming

There have been limitations on how much scientists can determine about the role of the climate crisis in flooding because the area affected by it has such a huge natural variation in rain patterns during monsoon seasons. It is also the year of La Niña, which usually brings heavier and longer rains to Pakistan.

Scientists said the role of climate change in the heat waves – which have hit Pakistan and other parts of the northern hemisphere this year – is much larger and often more pronounced in southern Asia. A WWA study published in May found that pre-monsoon heat waves are 30 times more likely to occur in Pakistan and India due to climate change.

“Each year, the chance of a record heat wave is higher than the previous year,” said Frederic Otto, WWA co-founder and climate scientist at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.

Tents shelter people displaced by floods in Sehwan city, Sindh province, on September 14, 2022.

She said the next heat wave in Pakistan would likely have “very serious consequences”. “Because even if everything is done now to invest in reducing vulnerability, it takes time.”

She said that while scientists haven’t been able to quantify exactly how much climate change is contributing to the floods, it’s likely closer to a “double” of the likelihood of them occurring, compared to a factor of 30 they found with the region’s heat wave.

The issue of who should pay for the effects of the climate crisis, known as “losses and damages,” has long been a sticking point among developing and some developed countries, and is expected to be pivotal in the upcoming COP27 international climate talks in Egypt. .

“I think it’s totally justified to say, ‘We need, finally, some real commitment to addressing the losses and damages caused by climate change,'” Otto said.

“A lot of what leads to catastrophe has to do with current vulnerabilities and not with human-caused climate change. But of course, the Global North plays a very big role in that as well, because a lot of those vulnerabilities are from colonialism and so on. So, there… A very huge responsibility rests on the Global North to finally do something real and not just talk.”

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