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Pakistan most affected by climate change

Dec. 1, 2011 at 11:52 AM   |   Comments

DURBAN, South Africa, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Pakistan topped the list in a ranking of countries that suffered the most from the effects of climate change, a new report says.

Released on the sidelines of the U.N. climate talks in Durban, South Africa, the "Global Climate Risk Index 2012" by Germanwatch, a European non-governmental organization, looked at the effects of extreme weather events from 1991-2010, based on data from insurance giant Munich Re.

"[The index] recognizes the now indisputable fact that Pakistan faces climate impacts which are not only happening in real time but in a widely diverse pattern -- ranging from extreme events such as cyclones, glacial melting and floods as well as indirect impacts such as droughts, shifting cropping patterns and climate-induced migrants," said Pakistan's former environment minister, Malik Amin Aslam, Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper reports.

Just from the floods of 2010, which affected some 8 million people, Pakistan incurred an economic loss worth an estimated $9.6 billion, said Farrukh Iqbal Khan, a member of Pakistan's delegation to Durban.

"We have had floods again this year and we are not really prepared for extreme events of the scale we saw in 2010," Khan said. "The rising financial costs for coping with climate disasters, highlighted in the report, are also in line with our internal analysis which forecasts these climate finance needs to be in the range of $6 billion-14 billion per annum for Pakistan."

While Pakistan was ranked No. 1 on the list of countries that suffered the most from climate change in 2010, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Honduras topped the long-term index.

Sven Harmeling, author of the index and team leader of International Climate Policy at Germanwatch, said the climate summit will be decisive for necessary commitments made by governments to reverse the global emissions trend.

"The current inadequate promises of the world's governments to fight climate change will push our limits of preparing for disasters and adaptation," he said.

But the Pakistani government isn't confident it will have the opportunity to present its viewpoint in Durban, The News International reports, noting that a large number of developing countries are unlikely to have any say during the proceedings of the 10-day conference which opened Monday.

"We (the developing countries) are not able to even raise (our) voice for our rights as the developed countries enjoy strong influence over the agenda and even (the) output of these kinds of conferences," said Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry, former director general of the Meteorological Department of Pakistan.

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