UK's Shocking Role In Pakistan's Climate Crisis, As Explained By An Environmentalist

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Flood victims as they try to survive under hard conditions following deadly flash floods in Pakistan (Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Flood victims as they try to survive under hard conditions following deadly flash floods in Pakistan (Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Flood victims as they try to survive under hard conditions following deadly flash floods in Pakistan (Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The UK has come under fire for contributing to the climate crisis, after a particularly brutal monsoon season caused devastation across Pakistan.

Extremely high levels of rainfall and flooding in recent months has isolated villages, trapped communities in mountains, and left a third of the country under water.

More than 33 million people have been affected and there have been at least 1,136 deaths. Early estimates suggests there has been a $10 billion (£8.65 billion) worth of damage to the country’s crops and infrastructure.

Pakistan’s climate minister Sherry Rehman has described the current crisis as a sign that the country is “at the ground zero” of the climate change, after “flash floods, multiple glacial lake outbursts, heatwaves and now the monster monsoon of the decade”.

Ayisha Siddiqa, environmentalist and co-founder of Fossil Free University – a training course for climate justice – and the campaign Polluters Out, singled out the UK (or rather, England) for its part in the ongoing crisis.

She criticised the “good old English, who have emitted more than 78 gigaton of carbon since 1750” for not providing enough funding. Much of the industrial revolution began in the UK, and marked the beginning of mass carbon emissions entering the atmosphere, gradually warming the Earth up.

Siddiqa then hit out at the lack of funding from the rest of the world: “Calling this charity is a hyperbole, even the average person has more decency than to open their purse only to give a displaced person a penny.”

She’s not the only figure to be pleading for further action from developed countries either.

Pakistan’s planning minister Ahsan Iqbal has also called on wealthy nations to send financial aid, as he says his country has been a victim of climate change, and the “irresponsible development of the developed world”.

Her tweets were shared when the UK had just confirmed that it was going to provide £1.5 million to the disaster.

However, on Thursday, the government set up the Disasters Emergency Committee Pakistan Floods Appeal and announced it will match pound for pound the first £5 million of public donations, as part of a new total £15 million pledge.

Around £10 million of those funds will also go to international aid agencies, for people’s urgent needs.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss, and the frontrunner to be elected as the next prime minister next week, said: “As a major humanitarian donor, we will do all we can to get life-saving aid to the most vulnerable, including through this £15 million package of support.”

Even so, Siddiqa emphasised the enormity of the crisis – and the lack of response from the rest of the world.

Speaking as a Pakistani, she said: “We are not responsible for climate change the way the USA, China, Russia and Europe is.

“Pakistan may look like a distant reality right now, but what is happening on our soil is the future of the rest of the world if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels. Wake up.”

She continued: “For a country with CO2 emission of 0.98% capita and which has contributed to the climate crisis less than 0.5%, we’re being thrown crumbs at, and told to be grateful.

“Imagine if for all you lost, you were given $1.”

Her Twitter thread – which went viral – also pointed out that the 33 million people who are displaced due to the floods is the equivalent of 90% of Canada’s population.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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