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Pakistan welcomes ‘loss and damage’ deal signed at UN summit


ISLAMABAD – A landmark funding deal at the COP27 conference to help poor countries beset by climate change was welcomed on Sunday by Pakistan, a country devastated by record-breaking monsoon rains this year.

Flooding, likely exacerbated by global warming, inundated a third of Pakistan’s territory, leaving 33 million people struggling to survive and an estimated $40 billion in losses to the economy.

Pakistani officials, who had portrayed the country as a victim of climate change and sought compensation from larger polluting nations, called the financing deal “a step in reaffirming core principles of climate justice”.

The offset deal struck early Sunday in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh provides funding for “losses and damages” suffered by poor countries as a result of global warming.

It’s a major win for developing countries that have long been asking for money – sometimes seen as reparations – because they often suffer climate-aggravated floods, droughts, heatwaves, famines and storms, despite having contributed little to the pollution warms up the globe.

It has also long been called a matter of fairness for countries affected by extreme weather events and small island nations facing an existential threat from rising seas.

“Three long decades and we have finally delivered climate justice,” said Seve Paeniu, Tuvalu’s finance minister. “We have finally answered the call of hundreds of millions of people around the world to help them deal with loss and damage.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Twitter welcomed the development, calling it the “first crucial step towards the goal of climate justice”.

Sharif acknowledged the work his cabinet minister for climate change, Sherry Rehman, and her team have done on the summit deal. He said it is now up to a transition committee to build on the historic development.

Rehman said in a tweet: “It has been a long 30 year journey from demand to the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund for 134 countries. We welcome today’s announcement and the joint text that has been worked out over many nights.”

“We look forward to getting (the fund) operational, to actually becoming a robust body capable of responding with agility to the needs of the vulnerable, the vulnerable and those on the frontline of climate disasters,” she said.

Pakistan suffered massive losses in the floods that affected a third of its 33 million inhabitants, who faced unprecedented suffering in terms of loss of people and property. More than 1,700 people were killed and nearly 13,000 others were injured. More than 13,000 kilometers (8,080 mi) of roadway, 439 bridges and 2.28 million homes were damaged or destroyed.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Pakistan emerged victorious as a result of the offset deal.

“Win for climate justice, win for developing countries in honor of 33 million flood victims in Pakistan and millions around the world who are suffering from a climate catastrophe they did not create and have no resources to address,” said Zardari.

The world’s biggest polluters must now fulfill their promises and contribute to the fund. A 2009 agreement for a $100 billion fund created by richer countries to pay for poor countries’ development was never fully funded.

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