By Yuri Prasad and Sophie Squire
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As Pakistan drowns, join the climate fight

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The climate crisis is worsening. It must be met by a mass climate movement
Issue 2821
An Extinction Rebellion supporter urges others to join the movement.

An Extinction Rebellion supporter urges others to join the movement (Picture: Alisdare Hickson)

Extreme weather caused by a rapidly changing climate must be a call for urgent action. In Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes and are now living in makeshift camps on higher ground.

The lucky ones have government provided tents. The less fortunate make do with improvised structures made of bamboo and pieces of tarpaulin.

But with clean water and sanitation near non-existent, waterborne disease is now spreading rapidly. In areas where there are still medical facilities, ­doctors report treating a big rise in diarrhoea and skin infections. And the relentless rain shows few signs of letting-up.

Authorities strategically breached the country’s largest freshwater lake on Sunday of last week, displacing up 100,000 people from their homes. Manchar Lake, which is used for water storage, had already reached ­dangerous levels. The increased pressure posed a threat to surrounding areas in the Sindh province.

Shock at the devastation in Pakistan is now turning to political anger. Aware that millions of flooded people are furious with the lack of action from their government, climate change minister Sherry Rehman spoke out. She said that rich polluting countries should pay for the damage done to poor nations.

“There is so much loss and damage with so little reparations to countries that contributed so little to the world’s carbon footprint that obviously the bargain made between the Global North and Global South is not working,” she said last week.

Big corporations, particularly those in the fossil fuel industry, should be made to pay for the climate damage hitting the world’s poorest nations. It is obscene that major energy firms can boast of their largest ever profits while millions of people face destitution as a consequence.

But making them pay up will require a movement far more radical than one led by leaders in the Global South. It will need to hit ­profits by mobilising workers, ­farmers and the poor in ways that threaten the whole system. That is something all ruling class leaders, wherever they are from, will shy away from. 

And a movement against the climate crisis is needed in every corner of the world, from India to Britain. Around 50 Extinction Rebellion activists took part in an action in the houses of parliament on Friday of last week. Several activists glued themselves to the commons chamber to demand a citizens’ assembly on climate change. Activists also climbed scaffolding to unfurl a banner on the wall of a government building. 

One activist said, “We need a new way of making decisions, where more voices are heard. The true diversity of the country to be represented. We need a Citizens’ Assembly and to empower ordinary people to make decisions that benefit ­everyone to get us out of this mess.”

And on Saturday of this week, XR will begin the latest of its rebellions in London. The rebellion is set to run from Saturday 10 to Tuesday 13 September. XR plans for activists to occupy different spaces across the city and set up camp there. 

It describes this latest ­rebellion as having “people power and mass mobilisation at the heart”. In response to the devastating floods in Pakistan, the group wrote on Twitter, “The crisis is here, we are in it, and it is worse than we imagined. 

Politics is incapable of rising to the urgency of this moment. We can’t afford to carry on like this. People must come together to face these crises.” 

After three days, the group plans to drive “­rebellion buses” to locations across Britain for regional mobilisations. Activists plan to kick off the action at 10am at Marble Arch, central London, on Saturday of this week. And Climate group Just Stop Oil will also kick off its indefinite occupation of Westminster from Saturday 1 October.

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