The climate action conversation.

LAST week, Pakistan's Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman had a very tough job ahead of her. In a milieu of the wealthy and the extremely wealthy, she had to make a case for Pakistan - a poor country caught in the throes of a climate catastrophe that, in its most recent iteration, swept away the homes of millions last summer when disastrous floods struck the country.

Just as it happens every year, the private jets began to land in airports serving the Swiss resort of Davos, showing no concern at all for the bloated carbon footprints of their owners and their friends. If asked, they would all nod gravely and make solemn faces at the immediacy and necessity of climate action to rescue the planet. They would then turn to join the wining and dining, forgetting all about the ongoing emergency. Minister Rehman's task in this charade of the wealthy was to get the latter to pay attention for more than a minute - to be eloquent but also blunt, polite but never beseeching. She did all of this and more.

To get an idea of just how unhurried the world and especially the world's wealthy are when it comes to climate change, consider this question that she was asked regarding climate action: '...if you had a magic wand what one thing would you have happened...?' 'I really don't like silver bullet conversations, because there is no silver bullet,' Ms Rehman responded, 'that's why we need to address this as it is. It's a complex, interlinked challenge ... At least, get to a framework, a framework that urges compliance ... if you've made a pledge ... fulfil that pledge.'

There is an unfairness about questions that demand that the world's suffering encapsulate their concerns in a soundbite.

There is an unfairness about questions that demand that the world's suffering encapsulate their concerns in a soundbite.

For one, they illustrate the barely muted condescension of even those moderating the sessions at international events, and who consider the concerns regarding Pakistan's climate crisis simple enough to be captured in a catchy sentence or two that they can label the 'takeaway' from the conversation as they busily move on to the next. It is just this sort of thinking that has doomed the world when it comes to saving the planet and the people on it. Pakistan is an early casualty but, eventually, it will be everyone's turn.

In other sessions, she has sharply defined the need for urgency. The navel gazers at Davos and at other international events devote...

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