Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) later this month on September 23 takes on more significance as usual, in light of the catastrophic floods being faced here at home. While the address rarely does more than capture headlines, it is important to use this platform to remind the global community of the severity of the threat of climate change, alongside the important issue of Kashmir. The idea here is to re-engage in the conversation and make the developed world honour its commitments to the climate problem and help out developing states in terms of funding and projects to prevent such tragedies from taking place on a regular basis.

The floods in Pakistan have only highlighted the urgency of the situation for climate-stressed countries such as ours. Given that Pakistan’s contribution to the carbon and climate problems is minimal, the emissions by developed and high-producing states have all but ensured that our people suffer through no fault of their own. Since we are at the forefront of threats faced, assistance to us must be prioritised as well.

It is also problematic to expect developing countries to mitigate the problem themselves. Shifting entire modes of production, infrastructure and habitation to be more insulated against climate threats is a costly endeavour, one that countries such as Pakistan cannot afford given our many problems of human development and economic progress.

Developed countries can and should extend their own climate funds to developing countries as well since the hardest effects of the change to the climate are being felt in states such as Pakistan.

The Prime Minister and his team must also translate these words into concrete action on the sidelines of the upcoming UNGA meet. We must seek out commitments of funding and investment into green projects in the coming years, particularly in the energy sector and infrastructural resilience in the face of floods and other natural disasters. It is important to quickly adapt to the changing climate; the loss of over 1000 Pakistanis should tell us that this is no longer a distant question, but an immediate tragedy waiting to happen, unless we take action.