United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the lack of global attention to climate change “insanity” on Friday as he visited Pakistan to mobilise help for millions of people affected by devastating monsoon floods.
Nearly 1,400 people have died in flooding that covers a third of the country — an area the size of the United Kingdom — wiping out crops and destroying homes, businesses, roads and bridges.
Pakistan says it will cost at least $10 billion to rebuild and repair — an impossible sum for the deeply indebted nation — but the priority is food and shelter for 33 million people affected.
Mr. Guterres said he hoped his visit would galvanise international help, noting Pakistan had always shown generosity towards others, hosting millions of refugees for decades from neighbouring Afghanistan at enormous cost.
Pakistan receives heavy — often destructive — rains during its annual monsoon season, which are crucial for agriculture and water supplies. But downpours as intense as this year’s have not been seen for decades.
“This is insanity, this is collective suicide,” Mr. Guterres told a press conference in the capital, lamenting the lack of attention the world gave to climate change — particularly the industrialised nations that scientists blame.
Pakistan is responsible for less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but is eighth on a list compiled by the NGO Germanwatch of countries most vulnerable to extreme weather caused by climate change.