West indian countries

Weather disasters in other countries affect us all

Many people imagine Pakistan as a hot country, with a powerful sun beaming down on a vast, largely rural plain, juxtaposed by large, humid urban cities like Islamabad and Lahore. The reality, geographically and topographically speaking, could not be more different.

Pakistan’s northwest frontier, far from being a place of warmth and sunshine, is in fact home to hundreds of breathtaking snow-capped mountains and over 7,000 glaciers. Come winter, temperatures in this region regularly drop below zero Celsius.

Although it offers beautiful landscapes, this geography means that the impacts of climate change are being felt sorely in Pakistan. For those who don’t know, Pakistan is currently in the midst of its latest natural disaster: massive flooding.

Record rainfall during the monsoon season triggered these floods. In an average year, Pakistan can see one or possibly two monsoons at most. Recently, he experienced about four times more precipitation than the 30-year average.

This bad weather affected the four provinces of Pakistan. He affected 33 million people, and sadly claimed the lives of over 1,000 people and still counting, with many more injured. an incredible 700,000 houses have been destroyed because of these extreme monsoon rains. Right now, a third of the country is under water.

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Simply put, these floods are a direct result of climate change and point to a larger problem: governments around the world are not and have not been serious about solving this problem.

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The international community must step in and support Pakistan at such a troubling time. The UK is providing just £1.5million to support one of our closest cultural, political and economic partners. The United Nations has called for $160 millionso this barely scratches the surface of what is required.

If Liz Truss is to live up to the title of ‘Global Britain’ which she coined as Foreign Secretary, then we need to support Pakistan with reactive short-term aid, but also a proactive approach to cope with the impacts of long-term climate change.

We must provide immediate practical assistance. Delivering £1.5m is frankly not enough and we should step up and lead on the international stage, working urgently with third sector partners and other governments to deliver food parcels, tents for flood victims, and first aid supplies.

However, in the longer term, we need to support Pakistan’s economic development with new sources of income. Currently, the UK has yet to sign a free trade Agreement with Pakistan, despite the close relations between the two countries. This should be a priority to provide new markets for Pakistani and UK businesses and to help generate growth.

We should also support Pakistan in its attempts to ward off the impacts of climate change. We must work alongside international partners, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the third sector and academia, to develop and implement policies, practices and infrastructure that will mitigate the risks of climate change.

Specifically, by bringing these stakeholders together, Pakistan can develop climate-resilient infrastructure in the form of dams or reservoirs. Reservoirs could provide access to hydroelectric power, drinking water and irrigation, while dams would strengthen flood defenses but also generate electricity – both providing a double benefit. Simpler solutions are to plant trees on a large scale, which will help mitigate the impacts of flooding.

Without such drastic action, the natural progression is all too clear. As global temperatures rise, countries like Pakistan and much of the Middle East and Indian subcontinent will become downright uninhabitable. Summers marked by drought will be contrasted with melting ice caps and increased flooding. This will likely precipitate mass migration patterns north and only cause additional tensions down the line, directly affecting countries like Britain and others in Western Europe.

Simply put, what happens in Pakistan affects us all. But next time it might not be Pakistan. It could be India or Bangladesh. According to Climate Risk Index 2020. It may even be closer to home, like Germany, third on the risk index that year. Indeed, Britain has faced its fair share of flooding, with homes and lives destroyed, some even in my own constituency.

We must seize this moment and lead the way on the diplomatic stage to support our international partners and ensure that we mitigate all climate risks. If we don’t act now to support states like Pakistan, the problems that arise will not just be a distant problem for a developing country, a problem we can turn a blind eye to, but a problem on our doorstep. By then, however, everything will be too late.

[Also read: The trillion-dollar question: Who will close the climate inequality gap?]

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