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It is time for South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation on Climate Change

With the growing realisation that Climate Change knows no borders, neither does air pollution nor ground water depletion, the call for SAARC’s revival for co-operation on climate action are not only timely but also critical for the survival of citizens in the region

November 14, 2022 / 11:37 AM IST
Representative image

Representative image

With little or no progress during the first week of Climate Change negotiations at COP27 ongoing at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt, a sense of despondency and disillusionment is apparent among the delegates representing the most vulnerable countries (which are the least responsible for things coming to this pass) from the global south.

With rich countries, the historical polluters, especially the United States, continuing to find ways to delay and derail any reasonable climate action, South Asian delegates have begun to talk about reviving South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for combating Climate Change.

“We need to revive SAARC. We need to revive regional cooperation on climate change as we face similar challenges with respect to Climate Change. We are in it together and we must face it together,” declared Romina Khurshid Alam, Minister of State and Member of National Assembly of Pakistan, in an emotional intervention at a side event on global goal on adaptation on November 9. This year’s monsoon-season floods left a trail of devastation in Pakistan, leading to more than 1,700 deaths, impacting over 33 million people, and leaving behind damage estimated at around $15 billion.

Alam’s intervention found resonance among delegates from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka — all countries which are yet to recover from unprecedented floods and a deadly heatwave in South Asia, which saw the highest temperatures recorded in 122 years in parts of the region. Meanwhile, melting glaciers are changing the hydrology of the entire Hindu Kush Himalayan region and its eight countries. Report after report in recent times have predicted that extreme weather events, including water scarcity and declining crop yield will affect over 800 million people in South Asia by 2050. Floods alone could cost the region $215 billion every year by 2030. Internal climate migrants in the region could number up to 40 million by 2050 while erratic monsoons risk driving drought in some parts of India, and devastating floods in others.