ISLAMABAD: President Joe Biden on Wednesday turned the spotlight on floods in Pakistan while speaking at length about the global climate change issue during his address to the 77th United Nations General Assembly session in New York.
Pakistan faced record rains and floods in recent months that swept away houses, crops and public infrastructure while affecting the lives of over 33 million people.
The erratic weather pattern witnessed in the country since the beginning of monsoon in June has been widely attributed to the problem of climate change that is mostly blamed on the economic policies of developed nations like the United States which is the world’s top carbon emitter.
Biden said during his speech his country was willing to join hands with other nations to address the issue which was beginning to hurt the poorest segments of the world population.
“We all know we are already living in a climate crisis,” he said. “No one seems to doubt it after this past year. Much of Pakistan is under water [and] needs help. Meanwhile, the Horn of Africa faces unprecedented drought. Families are facing impossible choices, choosing which child to feed, wondering whether they will survive. This is the human cost of climate change, and it is growing, not lessening.”
He mentioned his administration had made major financial allocations to deal with the global challenge since it wanted to rectify the situation.
“The United States will work with every nation, including our competitors, to solve global problems like climate change,” he continued. “Climate diplomacy is not a favor to the United States or any other nation and walking away hurts the entire world.”
So far, the US has provided $53 million for flood-affected people in Pakistan, though the chairman of its Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez told a gathering in New Jersey it was “like a drop in a bucket” while urging the administration in Washington to send more financial aid to the South Asian country.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also traveled to Pakistan’s flood-hit areas recently and said he had “never seen climate carnage of this scale.”
The UN chief asked G20 nations to boost their national greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and provide climate financing to developing nations to deal with such situations.
The floods in Pakistan have claimed over 1,570 lives and triggered water-borne diseases in several areas, putting the country’s health care system under tremendous strain.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UNGA session and expressed sympathy for the flood-affected people, the PM Office confirmed in a Twitter post.
The US official assured the prime minister his country was standing with Pakistan at this difficult hour.