SI calls for urgent international response to flooding in Pakistan

14 September 2022

The Socialist International is deeply moved by the plight of the people of Pakistan in face of the unprecedented flooding that is currently devastating the country. The record-breaking monsoons have already affected an estimated 33 million people and resulted in more than 1300 deaths. The thoughts and solidarity of our global movement are with Pakistan, and we call on the international community to fully mobilise in support of the people of Pakistan in this desperate moment.

There is without question a pressing need to provide urgent aid and assistance to Pakistan and its people in face of this devastation and the immediate threat to lives and livelihoods. The damage to date has been estimated by Pakistan at $30 billion, and may yet rise significantly. The international community must spare no effort to deliver the help that Pakistan needs and requests at this time. As the UN Secretary General has remarked, the massive financial, logistical and humanitarian support needed by Pakistan is not a matter of generosity, rather it is a question of climate justice.

The challenges in order to deliver vital assistance to those in most need are immense. Severe damage to infrastructure has been hampering aid and rescue operations with a great many roads and bridges having collapsed or flooded. A shortage of clean water means that many children are at risk of dying from disease. A further consequence of the flooding is that the agricultural belt of the country has been submerged, devastating key crops including cotton, wheat and rice. This is likely to have a catastrophic impact on the ability of Pakistan to feed itself and will have wider repercussions, as Pakistan is one of the world's top exporters of cotton and rice.

The flooding has left approximately one third of the country underwater, making this disaster unlike any previously seen in Pakistan. There is clear and incontrovertible evidence linking climate change to the intensity of the monsoon that has caused so much devastation. Due to global warming, air and sea temperatures have risen, which leads to more evaporation. This warmer air holds more moisture, making the monsoon rainfall even more intense. In the case of Pakistan, this is compounded by the melting of glacial ice in the north of the country creating thousands of glacial lakes which are risk of sudden outbursts, overwhelming weak flood defences and low-quality housing and infrastructure.

The floods are the latest example of a climate induced natural disaster, about which climate scientists long have warned, and which have become more frequent in recent years. Though Pakistan is responsible for only a tiny fraction of historical emissions in the world, it is extremely vulnerable to climate change due to its geography. This is a familiar pattern for many countries in the developing world, which are at severe risk and are likely to suffer more heavily than those countries with the greatest responsibility for historical emissions. The tragedy unfolding in Pakistan is a stark reminder that climate change is already causing severe loss of life, and must serve as a catalyst for renewed efforts in all countries to reduce emissions. It is particularly incumbent on the richest countries with the highest cumulative emissions, to meet and exceed the targets laid out in the Paris Agreement and Glasgow Climate Pact in order that the global temperature rise can be limited to 1.5 degrees.