Quezon City, 9 September – “People are dying from the devastating impacts of the debt crisis and the climate emergency ” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) as she expressed solidarity with more than 33 million people in Pakistan affected by the unprecedented heavy, continuous monsoon rains and onslaught of flash floods. “Our hearts go out to our fellow Asians who not only suffered great losses, but are also facing a humanitarian crisis of massive proportions as the full extent of this serious climate catastrophe is yet to be revealed.”
Pakistan produces less than 1% of global carbon emissions and yet is one of the countries that bear the worst consequences of the climate crisis. For the past 20 years, it has consistently ranked in the Global Climate Risk Index as among the top ten most vulnerable countries.
Nacpil stressed the urgent call for climate and economic justice for the people of Pakistan, for peoples of other parts of Asia, for the peoples of the Pacific, for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and all of the Global South. “Though contributing the least to the climate crisis, their peoples suffer the extreme impacts of the multiple crises including that of climate. The historic monsoon rains, super typhoons and unprecedented heatwaves and other effects of climate change destroy lives, homes and livelihoods, deepen hunger, poverty and inequalities.”
In the midst of the climate crisis and widespread devastation, Pakistan bears a debt burden approaching $250 billion and mounting debt service payments. From July to December 2021 alone, the government paid US$5 billion in debt service to external debt creditors. The US$1.1 billion released by the International Monetary Fund carries austerity conditionalities such as increasing fuel levies and energy tariffs. On top of principal and interest payments, the country had to pay the IMF US$65 million in surcharges (additional interest rates) from 2018 to 2020, and will be charged $392 million more from 2021-2030.
Nacpil reiterated the call for wealthy countries to meet their fair shares of global climate actions, which includes urgent delivery of climate finance. “Fair shares” are based on the UN Climate Convention principle that wealthy countries, or those countries most responsible for the climate crisis, take bold and ambitious actions to reach zero GHG emissions and provide adequate financial resources for developing countries to meet the balance of wealthy countries’ fair shares of mitigation actions and enable peoples of developing countries to meet their climate needs.
Nacpil said the climate finance needed is way beyond what the Global North promised in 2009: “The $100B pledge is arbitrary and way below the actual obligations of the rich countries as agreed in the Climate Convention. Trillions of dollars are needed annually by developing countries to adapt to and build resilience in the face of climate change impacts, recover from the loss of lives and damage to property, infrastructure, ecosystems and economies, and ensure a just and equitable transition.
“We also strongly demand debt cancellation for Pakistan, whose people have been staggering under the weight of unjust debt and related burdens including recent waves of economic prescriptions by the IMF.”