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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK

Leaders’ apathy towards climate crisis is proving deadly

One-third of Pakistan was left under water after recent flooding.
One-third of Pakistan was left under water after recent flooding. Photograph: Nadeem Khawar/EPA

Floods recently ravaged Pakistan and plunged around one-third of its land mass into water, destroyed crops and brought a country of 225 million individuals nearer to a food insecurity crisis (World close to ‘irreversible’ climate breakdown, warn major studies, 27 October). Pakistan, a country that contributes less than 1% of global carbon dioxide emissions, is facing an unprecedented climate change disaster that has caused humongous damage to its already flailing economy. Despite being a poor country, it has always been vociferous about climate change and global warming, urging leaders of richer countries to act before it’s too late.

Now we are looking towards the developed world to play its role as it is the one responsible for our agony (G20 countries emit 80% of global CO2 emissions, with China the largest contributor). The “third pole” is melting rapidly and could lose a significant part of its ice sheet by 2100, even if the rise in temperature is reduced to 1.5C, jeopardising the lives of 2 billion people living in south Asia.

We see rich, more developed countries utterly indifferent to our plight as events such as the Ukraine conflict snatch attention from the climate crisis. As Cop27 approaches, hopes for the formation of a fund to assist victim countries seem even more bleak.

The indifference, apathy, inertia and hypocrisy of the developed world is now an existential threat for the global south. This needs to change, otherwise the repercussions of climate change could harm richer and developed countries as well as the poorer, underdeveloped ones.
Muhammad Abubakar Pirzada
Lahore, Pakistan

• The 1.5C and net zero targets were formed by debate and agreement between politicians at the Paris climate conference in 2015. These targets do not have a scientific basis. Yet politicians treat them as sacrosanct and suggest that, provided the targets are met, the worst effects of climate change will be limited.

Greenwashing by governments and energy companies has ensured that the 1.5C target now cannot be met, and most countries have made only limited progress towards their targets. Carbon dioxide emissions have continued to rise. In fact, many scientists now expect that the 1.5C threshold will be exceeded before 2030.

The Earth’s climate will not respond to political rhetoric, it will only respond to actions determined by science. Science has determined that current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are too high and need to be reduced rapidly if extreme warming is to be avoided.

Achieving current net zero targets would only stop more CO2 entering the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would not be reduced. The only available methodology for reducing CO2 at scale in the atmosphere relies on protecting and enhancing ecology and biodiversity across the whole planet. Yet ecology and biodiversity continue to be eroded at an accelerating rate in what many politicians describe as the interests of growth and development.

Protecting and enhancing ecology and biodiversity on a global scale is at least as important as achieving net zero targets if human catastrophe is to be avoided. It seems that it is time for a comprehensive reset of CO2 targets at Cop27.
George Pitt
Halifax, West Yorkshire

• I smiled at Peter Brooker’s comment that Thérèse Coffey won’t now be wrecking the NHS (Letters, 30 October). But I find myself, for the first and probably only time, in agreement with Coffey. Cop27 will be an expensive schmooze-fest, long on words but negligent of deeds.
Terry Walsh
Cartagena, Spain

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