Islamabad - Pakistan welcomed an agreement Sunday at the United Nations climate conference in Egypt that would establish a fund to help developing countries ravaged by the impacts of global warming.
The South Asian nation of about 225 million people experienced catastrophic floods between June and August of this year, triggered by climate change-induced torrential rains. The flooding drenched one-third of Pakistan's territory, affected 33 million people and killed more than 1,700 others. It cost the country an estimated $40 billion in damages and economic losses.
Negotiators from about 200 countries agreed at the conference known as COP27 to set up the dedicated "fund for loss and damage" to pay developing nations for the catastrophic consequences of climate change.
Pakistan led a group of developing countries known as the G-77 to push for compensation in the form of climate reparations from wealthy nations for being the biggest contributors to global warming.
"The consensus decision taken to this effect by the COP27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh [Egypt] is a momentous achievement, especially for the Group of 77 and China, as the developing countries have been demanding such a fund for the past 30 years," a foreign ministry statement said in Islamabad.
The statement noted that the devastating flooding in Pakistan "refocused the global attention" toward the adverse impacts of climate change.
"We look forward to early operationalization of the fund, with the hope that the fund would bridge a major gap in the climate finance architecture," it said.
Pakistan's climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, said the historic fund "offers hope" to communities across the world fighting for their survival from climate stress.
"It's an important first step in reaffirming the core principles of climate justice," she said. The fund is "not charity" but "it is a down payment on our shared futures," Rehman stressed. She spoke at the conference on behalf of the G-77, which originally started with 77 countries, but has now grown to more than 130.
Pakistani officials maintain their country produces less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but it is listed among the top 10 nations vulnerable to climate change-driven disasters.
The United Nations estimated earlier this month the flooding in Pakistan also destroyed or damaged nearly 27,000 schools, preventing more than 2 million children in the country from returning to their education.