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Climate change: UN seeks damages

 UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. [AP]

From drought to floods and sea level rise, the cost of damage caused by climate change will only get higher as the world warms, sparking concerns from both top officials and activists about how to pay for it.

"Loss and damage from the climate crisis is not a future event. It is happening now, all around us," said United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on a visit to Pakistan, which recently suffered from devastating floods that displaced hundreds of thousands of people and left over a thousand dead.

"Developed countries must step up and provide Pakistan and other countries on the frontlines with the financial and technical resources they need to survive extreme weather events like these deadly floods," he said.

"I urge governments to address this issue at COP 27 with the seriousness it deserves," Guterres added, referring to the UN climate summit in November which will be held in the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm el Sheikh.

Pakistan, along with dozens of other developing countries is scrambling to adapt to the effects of climate change, with many of them calling on richer, high-emitting nations to help foot the bill.

Guterres' comments come a day after the UN's World Meteorological Organisation warned that Africa's islands and coastal States - and the 116 million people that inhabit them - will be heavily exposed to rising seas and will spend about $50 billion (Sh6 trillion) in damages by 2050.

It said drought over the last 50 years in the Horn and southern Africa, exacerbated by climate change, has claimed the lives of over half a million people, with losses estimated at $70 billion (Sh8.4 trillion). Over 1,000 floods in the same time period claimed over 20,000 lives, it said.

The report's findings stirred renewed calls for compensation for the continent by many who believe rich nations that emit far more planet-warming gases into the atmosphere should pay for climate catastrophes -loss and damage.

"As a continent, we feel that the issue of loss and damage needs to be addressed," said African Union Director of Sustainable Environment Harsen Nyambe.

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