"The current financing gap is too high to sustain any real recovery needs of those on the front lines of climate catastrophe," says PM Shehbaz Sharif at Sharm el Sheikh conference.
Climate crisis is outpacing the capacity of developing nations to cope with its devastating impacts, the Pakistani premier has told COP27, as his country reels from historic floods.
"The world is burning up faster than our capacity for recovery," Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif warned on Tuesday in his speech before the summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh.
"The current financing gap is too high to sustain any real recovery needs of those on the front lines of climate catastrophe."
Sharif argued Pakistan exemplifies the extreme vulnerability of nations in the developing world struggling to grow their economies while confronting a perfect storm of inflation, soaring debt and energy shortages — all compounded by global warming.
Talks at the UN climate conference in Egypt have been dominated by calls for wealthier nations to fulfil pledges to financially help poorer nations green their economies and build resilience.
Catastrophic floods in Pakistan in August coming on the heels of a crippling two-month heatwave earlier in the year upended the lives of 33 million people and inundated a third of the country, he said.
"Raging torrents" from melting glaciers in northern Pakistan ripped up thousands of kilometres of roads and railway tracks, Sharif added.
The floods, which also swamped vast areas of key farmland, incurred damages exceeding $30 billion, according to the World Bank.
Pakistan, already facing a cost-of-living crisis, a nose-diving rupee and dwindling foreign exchange reserves, saw inflation surge after the floods.
"We have redirected our meagre resources to meet the basic needs of millions of households affected by these devastating floods," Sharif said. "And this all happened despite our very low carbon footprint."
Rich nations historically responsible for rising temperatures have fallen short of delivering climate finance on several fronts, the prime minister said.
A 12-year-old pledge made at COP15 to provide $100 billion a year to poorer countries by 2020 has still not been met and is $17 billion short.
A lightning-rod issue at COP27 is whether or not wealthy nations should commit to a separate financial facility for unavoidable impacts — from storms, heatwaves and sea level rise, for example — known as "loss and damage".
"How on earth can one expect from us that we will undertake this gigantic task on our own?" Sharif said.
"Loss and damage needs to be part of the core agenda of COP27 to meet the pressing humanitarian needs of those that are trapped in a crisis of public financing fuelled by debt and yet have to fund climate disasters on their own. This is simply unjust and unfair to say the least."
At a Monday meeting with Sharif, UN chief Antonio Guterres said the world needs to rethink the international financial system to provide debt relief to countries battered by climate impacts.
"Pakistan deserves massive support directly from the international community," Guterres said.