Saturday, December 3
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International capitalism blamed for climate crisis: conference told

KARACHI: Speakers at a conference here Monday said that international capitalism is responsible for huge destruction due to climate change and environmental degradation.

The climate conference titled “Global capitalism: responsible for environmental disasters’ was organized at the Arts Council of Pakistan by National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) in collaboration with the Arts Council of Pakistan. It was presided over by HBWWF general secretary Zehra Khan.

Noted local and international environmental experts, lawyers, social and political leaders spoke at the moot. People directly affected due to recent floods and climate changes also participated in the conference and briefed the audience and there problems, as well as, the current situation in the flood affected areas.

Faisal Edhi of Edhi Foundation in his address said that the recent floods were the worst in the history of Pakistan, directly affecting 3.5 Crore people and indirectly affecting millions others. He said the government of Pakistan and global community has failed not only to correctly assess the losses but also in timely assistance of the affected people. He said the government and global community have left the millions of the affectees, especially women and children, neglected and ignored. Millions of people are deprived of the basic needs of food, water and medicines. He said the winter season is coming and it would create another human tragedy.

Dr Miriam Sagg, legal director European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Germany said that the climate crises has been caused by multiple actors. We will see that the polluter-pays-principle should apply when dealing with the climate devastation.

NTUF general secretary Nasir Mansoor said that the model capital mode of progress has created a big threat for the survival of life on the earth. He said capitalist economy is another name of environmental terrorism. He said for last one hundred and fifty years, the capitalist countries with unbridled use of fossil fuels have threatened the life on the planet earth. He said due to energy obtained from gas, oil and coal, very high carbon emissions have raised global temperature alarming, hardly hitting the natural environment.

He said floods, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, melting of glaciers, rise in sea level, pandemics and heat waves are the results of these climate changes affecting billions of people. The capitalist system has made the people salaried slaves. It has occupied the resources of nations, pushed the people to dreadful wars and now it is bent to destroy the earth altogether. He said the first and last way to save environment is to get rid of the capitalism.

Dr Nauman Ahmed (Dean of facility of Architecture and management sciences, NED University) said that environment, climate change and progress are interrelated. He said economic progress is aimed at to make more capital, more investment and further spur consumerism. He said the West attained a big achievement in production and progress but without any check and balance. He said later it was felt that this cruel use of resources would be harmful for life on the earth and there should be some checks on it.

He said due to climate change food crisis, poverty and inequality of wealth are further rising in Pakistan. He said urbanization is spreading fast and huge population in cities live in slums. He said forest cover is shrinking fast and further damaging environment and ecology. He suggested to link progress to sustainable environment and benefit of communities.

Dr Riaz Ahmed (Head of Social Sciences at SZABIST) said the Pakistani state has failed to serve its citizens. He said situation was not better in the past, its worse now and there is no hope of betterment in future as the state does not care about ordinary citizens. He said we should have to fight ourselves for our rights as the state and government would never give us our due rights.

Dr Asghar Dashti (Chairmen IR Department FUUAST) said the earth system is changing fast and it has created immense challenges for the survival of mankind. He said the vested interests of capitalism are linked to climate change and this problem could not be resolved in isolation. He said capitalist experts, scientist and corporate media are befooling people. He said Khirthar and Hingol national parks are facing immense dangers due to land mafia. He stressed the need for a climate emergency and a global climate movement.

Comrade Zehra Khan, general secretary of Home-based Women Workers Federation Pakistan (HBWWF) said that the wrong policies of the countries of global north and international corporations have created a huge danger for the people of global south. She said these countries and transnational corporations and their greed for more and more profits are responsible for the environmental terrorism. She said to save the humanity both the global north and south should have to wage a collective struggle. She said her institution was consulting with affected people, political and social leaders and legal experts for initiating litigation in German courts against the states and organizations involved in climate crimes.

Thomas Rudhof-Seibert, a German political activist and philosopher, speaking online said you all know much better than I do the catastrophe which devastated Pakistan this year. We all know, that this catastrophe is a result of the so called “climate crisis”.

He said Pakistan is not responsible for that crisis. Also Somalia, suffering not a flood, but a drought, is not responsible for the climate crisis. Also all the countries of the Global South suffering under floods and droughts are not responsible for the climate crisis. But all of these countries are suffering not only under the climate crisis; they are also suffering under the global debt crisis.

He further said that what this double burden means. Responsible for the global climate- and the global debt-crisis are instead the countries of the global North, countries like Germany, like the USA, but also like China, he said, adding therefore, the Pakistani government should not asking for help. Pakistani government should demand both for reparations for the damages under the climate crisis, and for cancellation of debt.

Mehnaz Rehman (Women Rights Activist), Sabhagi Bheel (Sindh Agriculture General Workers Union), Amar Guriro (Journalist) and representatives of flood elaffectees Mujeeb Pirzado, Inayat Leghari, Mis Ruqaeya Nazar, Fozia Gulnawaz also spoke.

The conference demanded that food, drinking water and medicines should be provided to all affectees on emergency basis. Before coming of the winter, temporary shelters should be provided to the affected people. Repair and reconstruction of their damaged houses should also be ensured.

Free of cost land should be distributed amongst the landless peasants. Every affected family should be given a compensation of Rs1million. Payment of loans and interests to international lending institutions should be stopped and these funds should be utilized on rehabilitation of the affected people.

The de-watering process in the flooded areas should be accelerated. All loans of the affected people should be forgiven. Seed, fertilizer and agricultural machinery should be given free of cost to the affected farmers. Industrial countries should immediately release the promised assistance of 100 billion dollars per annum to the countries hit be climate change. All subsidies given to the fossil fuel sector should be withdrawn. Alternate renewable energy should be used instead of fossil fuels to check carbon emissions. All encroachments upon natural waterways should be immediately removed.