Pakistan has experienced devastating floods. What does climate change have to do with it? Germany has a moral obligation to help, says one expert.
Geneva/London – According to a quick analysis by experts, global warming may have contributed to the devastating rainfall in Pakistan.
For the particularly affected provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan, some model calculations showed that the amount of rain over a particularly bad five-day period was up to 50 percent higher than would have been the case without climate change. This was reported by the World Weather Attribution network (WWA network; about: assignment of world weather) to the German climate scientist Friederike Otto from Imperial College in London.
Monsoon rains in Pakistan since June
Pakistan has experienced unusually heavy monsoon rains since mid-June. A third of the country is under water, 33 million people are affected, more than 1480 people have died according to official figures.
Isabel Bogorinsky from Welthungerhilfe warns that Pakistan will have to deal with the consequences for a long time to come. The water has washed away many agricultural areas. There is often hopelessness among those affected. “There is a lack of tents, there is a lack of food, clean water and sanitation.”
The WWA network uses computer models to calculate the probability of extreme weather before industrialization and compares it with today’s data. The researchers assume an increase in the global average temperature of 1.2 degrees compared to the average value from 1850 to 1900. The World Weather Organization (WMO) speaks of 1.3 degrees.
Rainfall in the region varies greatly
According to the study, there is a one percent chance that floods like this year will happen every year. However, there are significant uncertainties. Because rainfall in the Pakistan region varies greatly from year to year, it is difficult to accurately quantify the impact of climate change, the network reported. “But we can say with great certainty that the chance of something like this happening would have been lower without climate change,” said Otto.
In the case of heat waves, it is much easier to assess the role of climate change than in the case of extreme rainfall. During the heatwave that Pakistan and India experienced in March and April this year, the network concluded that climate change had made such phenomena around 30 times more likely.
Poor water management makes flooding worse
Cambridge University social scientist Ayesha Siddiqi said poor water management, dating back to colonial times, exacerbated the effects of the floods. Among other things, the water masses could not have drained away quickly. Industrialized countries are also primarily responsible for climate change. When supporting Pakistan, it would be better to speak of reparations payments instead of humanitarian aid. “Pakistan absolutely should demand reparations,” she said.
Jacob Schewe from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research also sees Western countries as having an obligation. Pakistan needs support to adapt to climate change. “For moral reasons alone, Germany already shares responsibility for what is happening in Pakistan because we have made an above-average contribution to global warming,” said Schewe. dpa