Should The Global North Pay The Global South Climate Reparations?

Should The Global North Pay The Global South Climate Reparations?
In light of the devastating floods being experienced by Pakistan, conversations about climate reparations and the role of climate change versus the role of governmental mismanagement are taking over social media.

Although Pakistan is responsible for less than 1% of the world's carbon emissions, it is amongst the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. The three countries with the highest carbon emissions as of 2021 were the United States, China and Russia. Many activists are arguing, therefore, that since nearly all the carbon emissions that lead to global warming that in turn brings about climate disasters like the 'monsoon on steroids' Pakistan is experiencing are from countries in the Global North, they should pay reparations to countries in the Global South, who are actively experiencing the repercussions.

On the other hand, there have been a number of people pointing out that governmental mismanagement needs to be addressed as well. There are questions being raised about why the level of preparedness has not increased since 2010, which was the last time Pakistan had a massive flood crisis. In the tweet above, a BBC anchor asks climate expert Maira Hayat whether the money raised through the UN appeal should be given to the Pakistani government, or local or international NGOs. She replies that Pakistan is a sovereign country, of course the money should be given to the government. She also highlights that while questions about accountability are important to ask, it is the Pakistani citizens who should be raising and asking those questions. "Corrupt, dysfunctional Global South discourse is racist and colonial," she tweeted.

But some experts believe that it is not enough to rally people based on guilt alone. Researcher Adam Weinstein believes that Pakistan has been awarded a rare singular chance to rally the world, but guilt will only get the country so far. He says that while there is some mettle to the argument that the Global South deserves reparations, systemic change and efforts to bring it about need to be talked about as well. He says that while it is true that Pakistan contributes to less than 1% of global carbon emissions, the upper-middle and elite classes of Pakistan have a 'horrendous' carbon footprint. "Guilt-inducing viral tweets last a few hours. They're good for dopamine rushes & bad for achieving systemic change."

Adam argues that Pakistan needs systemic change more than just reparations, and claims that without global change without domestic change won't help make things better. However, as so many users are pointing out, Pakistan is already emitting less than 1% of global carbon emissions. Even if Pakistan were to go 100% green, it still wouldn't change the fact that the Global North would still be emitting far more carbon, the burden of which would still be going towards Pakistan. In other words, Pakistan could bring about that systemic change, and still fall victim to the emissions from the Global North.

Furthermore, the upper-middle and elite class that Adam mentions actually makes up a small minority of the country's total population, most of which has a car-less existence, and relies heavily on reuse and recycle.