UN chief has ‘never seen climate carnage’ like the Pakistan floods
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Saturday that he has “never seen climate carnage” on such a scale as he toured parts of Pakistan hit by floods, blaming wealthier countries for the devastation.
Nearly 1,400 people have died in flooding that covers an area the size of the United Kingdom and has wiped out crops and destroyed homes, businesses, roads and bridges.
Guterres has said he hopes his visit will galvanize support for Pakistan, which has put the provisional cost of the catastrophe at more than $30 billion, according to the government’s flood relief center, AFP reported.
“I have seen many humanitarian disasters in the world, but I have never seen climate carnage on this scale,” he said at a press conference in the port city of Karachi after witnessing the worst of the damage in southern Pakistan.
“I have simply no words to describe what I have seen today.”
Pakistan receives heavy — often destructive — rains during its annual monsoon season, which is crucial for agriculture and water supplies.
But downpours as intense as this year’s have not been seen for decades, while rapidly melting glaciers in the north have for months heaped pressure on waterways.
“Wealthier countries are morally responsible for helping developing countries like Pakistan to recover from disasters like this, and to adapt to build resilience to climate impacts that unfortunately will be repeated in the future,” Guterres said, adding that G20 nations cause 80 percent of today’s emissions, AFP reported.
Pakistan is responsible for less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but is eighth on a list compiled by the NGO Germanwatch of countries most vulnerable to extreme weather caused by climate change.
Around 33 million people have been affected by the floods, which have destroyed around two million homes and business premises, washed away 7 000 kilometers of roads and collapsed 500 bridges.
Guterres has lamented the lack of attention the world has given to climate change — particularly industrialized nations.
“This is insanity, this is collective suicide,” he said after arriving in Pakistan on Friday, AFP reported.
The effect of the torrential rain has been twofold — destructive flash floods in rivers in the mountainous north, and a slow accumulation of water in the southern plains.
The meteorological office said Pakistan has received five times more rain than normal in 2022. Padidan, a small town in Sindh province, has been drenched by more than 1.8 meters since the monsoon began in June.
Water levels have reached far higher in areas where rivers and lakes have burst their banks, creating dramatic inland seas.
After rough start, UN plastic treaty talks end with mandate for first draft
After a rocky start to a week of negotiations, around 170 countries agreed to develop a first draft by November of what could become the first global treaty to curb plastic pollution by the end of next year.
Country delegations, NGOs and industry representatives gathered in Paris this week for the second round of UN talks toward a legally binding pact to halt the explosion of plastic waste, which is projected to almost triple by 2060, with around half ending up in landfill and less than a fifth recycled, according to a 2022 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report.
Though the first half of the five-day negotiations was spent arguing over procedural issues, delegations split into two groups to discuss the range of control measures that can be taken to stop plastic pollution as well as whether countries should develop national plans or set global targets to tackle the problem, Reuters reported.
By the session’s close on Friday, countries agreed to prepare a “zero draft” text of what would become a legally binding plastics treaty and to work between negotiation sessions on key questions such as the scope and principles of the future treaty.
The “zero draft” text would reflect options from the wide-ranging positions of different countries by the start of the next round of talks to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, in November.
“My appeal to you at the beginning of this session was that you make Paris count. You have done so by providing us collectively with a mandate for a zero draft and intersessional work,” said Jyoti Mathur-Filipp, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on Plastic Pollution at the closing plenary.
The start of negotiations was bogged down by more than two days focused on the rules of procedure for the talks.
Saudi Arabia, Russia and China led objections to the treaty decisions being adopted by a majority vote rather than a consensus. A consensus would give one or a few countries the ability to block adoption.
Marian Ledesma, a campaigner with Greenpeace Philippines, told Reuters that if the INC process enables adoption by consensus instead of majority voting, it “will block a lot of important provisions.”
“Voting allows for as many states as possible to be able to support the treaty and allow us to move forward,” she said.
The issue has not yet been fully resolved and will come up at the next round of talks.
Death toll climbs as rain continues across parts of Afghanistan
The Ministry of Natural Disaster Management said on Tuesday that at least 24 people have died and 13 others have been injured in recent rains in 13 provinces of the country in the past 10 days.
Shafiullah Rahimi, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Natural Disasters, says that in the past 24 hours, three people died and one person was injured in heavy rain in Paktia, Paktika, Maidan Wardak and Khost provinces respectively.
In addition, 31 houses were either damaged or completely destroyed in the rain.
On Monday the Meteorological Department issued a warning of heavy rain and possible flash floods in 20 provinces over two days – including Tuesday.
“At least 24 people have died, 13 people have been injured and 120 houses have been completely destroyed in 13 provinces of the country in nearly ten days, and more than 3,000 acres of agricultural land and gardens have been destroyed,” said Rahimi.
He also said the Ministry of Natural Disaster Management in cooperation with United Nations organizations and NGOs has been able to distribute food and non-food items and cash aid to nearly 15,000 families in the past ten days. He also said the process is still underway.
Pacific islands, in spotlight, to push climate change in South Korea summit
Pacific island leaders will meet South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol in Seoul on Monday, their third summit in a week with a large economy as the region seeks stronger action on climate change as it becomes a focus of geopolitical power attention.
The Pacific islands span 40 million square kilometers of ocean between the United States and Asia, and Western allies have moved to boost their engagement amid concerns over China’s security ambitions for the strategic waters and economic leverage among the small island states, Reuters reported.
Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles will attend the first Korea-Pacific Islands Summit, his office said on Saturday, adding it would show cooperation between the 18 members of the Pacific Island Forum and South Korea for a secure region.
“Australia welcomes Korea’s interest in deepening ties with the Pacific, and looks forward to building on our foundation of shared values to promote our mutual interest in a prosperous and resilient Pacific,” he said in a statement.
South Korea is Australia’s third-largest export market, with trade dominated by exports of gas and coal. Marles will also hold a bilateral meeting with Korean Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-sup.
Australia and New Zealand are the largest members of the forum, a bloc of mostly small island countries at risk from rising sea levels caused by climate change and reliant on aid from development partners.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged more trade and development assistance in a summit with a dozen Pacific island leaders in Papua New Guinea (PNG) on Monday. The United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed a defense agreement with PNG after a Pacific summit there on the same day.
The back-to-back meetings with major economies were a “massive boost for recognition of our priorities”, said Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna in a statement.
The island states, which are seeking greater funding for climate change mitigation, have taken a collective approach to dealing with major powers.
The Pacific islands has the world’s largest tuna fishery, where South Korea’s long distance fleet has been fishing since 1958, catching 255,226 tonnes in 2021 under license schemes controlled by the forum members.
France, which has Pacific overseas territories, will also join the Seoul meeting.
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