COP 27: Talking Shop Or Commitment To Climate Justice?

COP 27: Talking Shop Or Commitment To Climate Justice?
During the European Summer 2022 heatwave which brought with itself unbearable temperatures and wildfires, this writer found herself in London amidst a declaration of national emergency after an issuance of a red weather warning.

As the British rail system paralysed amidst soaring temperatures, there were talks about it being part of a larger Europe-wide pattern, a consequence of climate change, with several climate activists advocating for more responsibility and tangible efforts on part of the developed world.

However, around the same time, in the wake of a heavier-than-normal monsoon season, Pakistan, the land of the Indus, found one third of its vast swathes of landmass submerged in water. A study by World Weather Attribution group reported that up to 50 per cent of the heavy rains in August, in Sindh and Baluchistan, were a by-product of climate change.

According to official estimates, the floods affected nearly 33mn Pakistani people, particularly in the low-lying, arid, food-insecure Southern provinces.

Talking about the extreme impact of the floods, Pakistan’s Climate Change Minister, Sherry Rehman, termed it as the ‘climate event of the century.’ She is right.

What the gargantuan mind-numbing numbers do not show, however, is the plight of the cotton and wheat farmers who saw their farmlands and with it their livelihoods washed away, or the thousands who were suddenly in desperate need of dry land to bury their loved ones—once living people, now, victims of malaria, dengue, and other water-borne diseases.

As per September estimates, 1,500 people lost their lives, with approximately 50 per cent of them little children. Many survivors now find themselves displaced, surviving off aid from civil society, government, and philanthropic organizations, and living in tents in the cold, desperately clinging on to what remains of loved-ones, livestock, and belongings.

The scale of the impact is angering for many. Pakistan contributes less than 1 per cent to global emissions, yet it is amongst the top ten countries affected by climate change. It has received increased international attention in the wake of the floods, with the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, telling the General Assembly that Pakistan’s ‘climate carnage was beyond imagination’, pledging to support the Government of Pakistan in its rehabilitation and reconstruction response and calling for 816 million USD to be given to Pakistan.

With just a few days left in the upcoming 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly referred to as COP 27, to be held from November 6 to 18 in Egypt, Pakistan is hoping upon hopes that something constructive comes out of the conference.

Prime Minister Sharif, now the Vice-Chairperson of COP 27, in light of his efforts advocating urgent preventative measures in tackling further climate change, is due to attend. Pakistan’s demands for at least 16.3 billion USD for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the wake of the disastrous torrential rains are not unreasonable, with its housing, transportation, communication, livestock, and fisheries sector adversely impacted, not to mention the infrastructural damage, scale of displacement and human impact of the recent floods.

However, Pakistan’s plight is not unique. While having a far lower share in global greenhouse gas emissions, developing countries find themselves bearing the brunt of environmental damage, with profound effects on their agricultural sectors. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that out of the total 2017 damages to crop and livestock in developing countries, 37 per cent were due to floods and 19 per cent could be attributed to droughts.

Thus, developing countries find themselves in what they deem to be an unfair conundrum; while they no longer have the opportunity to economically grow in a carbon intensive manner like their first world counterparts, decarbonize afterwards, and be the champions of climate change mitigation, they bear the disproportionate disastrous impact of the crisis.

The Pakistani climate crisis thus serves as a litmus test for the world. It would not be wrong to say that it is the moral responsibility of the G20 countries, responsible for about 80 per cent of the emissions, to help countries like Pakistan. As the flag-bearer of justice, the Western world should give heed to the developing world’s calls for climate change reparations, as justice should extend beyond fancy courtrooms and legislatures, to the environment, especially when inaction and silence has the potential to uproot thousands of lives. The COP 27 will show if it’s just a talking shop or a testimony to the Western world’s commitment to climate justice.

The writer is a third-year BSc Philosophy, Politics and Economics Student at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a published author. She can be reached at:

The writer is a BSc Philosophy, Politics and Economics student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She can be contacted at: