Climate change: As catastrophic floods hit Pakistan, it is outrageous that climate action is being put on backburner – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

In a video address in response to the devastating floods in Pakistan, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged the world to provide urgently needed aid and to stop “sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change”. The full text of his remarks is below.

Pakistan is awash in suffering. The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids – the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding.

The climate catastrophe has killed more than 1,000 people, with many more injured. Millions are homeless, schools and health facilities have been destroyed, livelihoods are shattered, critical infrastructure wiped out, and people’s hopes and dreams have washed away. Every province of the country has been affected.

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In my prior position as High Commissioner for Refugees, I witnessed the enormous giving spirit of the Pakistani people, welcoming and protecting millions of Afghan refugees and, in many cases, sharing their limited resources.

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It breaks my heart to see these generous people suffering so much. In response to the devastation, the government of Pakistan has released funds including immediate cash relief but the scale of needs is rising like the floodwaters and it requires the world’s collective and prioritised attention.

The United Nations is issuing a fresh appeal for $160 million to support the response led by the government of Pakistan. These funds will provide 5.2 million people with food, water, sanitation, emergency education, protection and health support.

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Dear friends, South Asia is one of the world’s global climate crisis hotspots. People living in these hotspots are 15 times more likely to die from climate impacts.

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Children shelter from the rain under a plastic sheet near their collapsed house in Jaffarabad district, Balochistan province, after heavy monsoon rainfalls caused major flooding across much of Pakistan (Picture: Fida Hussain/AFP via Getty Images)

As we continue to see more and more extreme weather events around the world, it is outrageous that climate action is being put on the backburner as global emissions of greenhouse gases are still rising, putting all of us, everywhere, in growing danger.

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The government of Pakistan has asked for the international community’s help. Let us work together to respond quickly and collaboratively to this colossal crisis.

Let us all step up in solidarity and support the people of Pakistan in their hour of need. Let's stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change.

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Today, it is Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country.

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