Climate change has emerged as one of the most challenging items on the international agenda in the 21st century. Global pledges to mitigate the impacts of climate change have not received the required funding from the world’s leading economies. Whatever funding is available has for the most part not translated into proper planning. Funding pipelines need to open up to address the challenges that most of the developing countries are facing. A ministerial dialogue, the 12th Petersberg Climate Change Conference, that Germany hosted on July 18-19 – ahead of COP27 in November this year in Cairo – has focused on these issues, with senior officials from 40 countries participating. The world has seen conference after conference in the past 20 years or so with, all lacking in concrete results. The pace and scale of climate change is accelerating and there has not been any substantial improvement that can prevent environmental degradation. Meanwhile, the world is increasingly vulnerable to erratic weather patterns as Europe is witnessing now in the shape of its heatwaves that are scorching by continental norms.
It is disappointing that developing countries are still waiting for rich countries to provide $100 billion in climate aid each year. The world’s richer nations had promised to meet this target by 2020. There are accelerated climate-induced events that are taking place across the world, and a multitude of risks involved that need prompt handling and swift responses. These include increasing forest fires, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), paucity of water, fast approaching droughts in many parts of the world on the one side and on the other torrential rains and flooding; early, prolonged, and in some years delayed monsoon; and depleting greenery resulting from growing desertification. Added to this is a rise in sea levels that is threatening many coastal cities and towns. Looking at Pakistan, we can feel and see an impending climate catastrophe that is likely to decimate precious flora and fauna if governments keep postponing measures to tackle this problem.
This continuing climate stress is taking its toll on both developed and developing countries but the latter are in a more precarious situation. The very economic stability of many countries to a great extent depends on climate patterns. Despite a lot of talk at various forums, the fact remains that some irreversible impacts have already devastated many areas around the world. Internal displacement is becoming increasingly common and contributing to malnutrition and poverty. Now there has to be much more than just ambitions. If these do not find expression in financial commitments, the goals will just remain goals. It is noteworthy again that most developing countries have contributed only a fraction of greenhouse gases in comparison with the rich world. An energy transition to net zero emission is easier said than done. No transformational shift will take place unless resources flow from the Global North to the Global South.