Skip to main content

Time to step up: Pakistan floods show the urgent need for wealthy countries to follow through on adaptation funding promises

news 11 Oct 2022

After more than 100 days of horrendous, devastating flooding in Pakistan, it is clear that climate change is not some distant, far-off hypothetical: it is already a crisis for us all right now. 

The tragedy underlines the desperate need for a just transition now, and concrete action at the next climate action summit, COP27, where the world’s governments will meet to discuss their climate plans.

The devastation wrought by the flooding in Pakistan is difficult to calculate. Muhammad Naseem Rao, General Secretary of the Railway Workers' Union Pakistan, explains what it means for the workers: "Train operations have almost come to a halt in the affected areas, as track is under water in many places and vital bridges have either been destroyed or badly damaged.”

“All our efforts are being made to restore operations, and railway staff are playing a vital role in the restoration of infrastructure, working day and night on a war-footing basis despite the fact that almost every one of them is themselves a flood victim, many have lost their homes and livestock.”

“In these hard days, the Railway Workers' Union Pakistan has exercised all our efforts to help affected employees in order to provide basic needs and food, and has set up free medical camps for our families," he said

One third of the country is under water. It has displaced more than 30 million people and killed more than 1,600.

While the link between climate change and the flooding is clear, this disaster also makes clear the profound injustice of climate change. Around the world, it is the countries which are least responsible for climate change that are bearing the brunt. Pakistan, for instance, emits less than 1% of the world’s global greenhouse gas emissions.

As transport unions, we know how central our industries must be to a transition towards a sustainable future, and as we approach COP27, transport workers stand ready to lead that change.

Rich countries and energy companies, many of whom are currently announcing record profits, are the most responsible for the historical emissions that supercharging climate change.

“These countries, the energy majors, must be made to pay their share. They have built their wealth on the decimation of the planet, and yet have repeatedly failed to live up to pledges to pay for the cost of tackling climate change,” said Steve Cotton, ITF General Secretary.

We need an immediate ramp-up in concrete support for Pakistan, and real action at COP27, including: 

  • Delivery of the $100 billion a year to 2025 developing countries were promised, evenly split between mitigation and adaptation funding, with additional payments to make up past shortfalls.
  • Setting new and ambitious climate finance goals to provide the funding needed to achieve climate resilient transport systems which keep transport workers and users safe and ensure transport systems keep moving as climate change worsens.
  • Creating a loss and damage facility to compensate developing countries for the climate harms which they are having to live with.

We also join and reiterate calls for debt relief for climate-vulnerable countries in the Global South. In 2021, debt repayments made up more than a third of Pakistan’s annual budget, and it is unconscionable that the country should continue to pay these crippling levels of interest when every penny of that money should be focused on reconstruction.