Forging Dhaka-Glasgow CVF-COP26 solidarity: Hasina seeks to secure interests of Vulnerable 48

  • News Desk,
    Published: 2021-04-02 23:17:04 BdST


Sheikh Hasina has sought to secure the interests of the 48 developing countries who are members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum or CVF.

The UN’s Champions of the Earth winner and the current president of the CVF called for solidarity CVF-COP26 solidarity in a cover article she wrote for The Diplomat magazine’s April 2021 edition.

The prime minister opened the article recalling the context of taking charge of CVF presidency for the second time in 2020 after it was launched in 2009.

In 2019, President Hilda Heine of the Marshall Islands travelled to Dhaka to join the Global Commission on Adaptation that Hasina was co-hosting with former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

Together, they warned the biggest emitters that global adaptation actions were far from keeping pace with the runaway scale of loss and damage, and growing millions of climate refugees that no one wants to host.

“We warned them that no country or business can eventually remain immune from the climate wrath,” Hasina wrote.

She said she was captivated by the courage and leadership with which President Heine had been addressing her island country’s climate challenges while voicing those as president of the forum, a global partnership of the nations most vulnerable to the threats of climate change.

“When she proposed Bangladesh – being at the tipping point of the climate crisis and a global leader in adaptation – should assume the presidency of the CVF in 2020, I felt compelled to accept,” the prime minister wrote.

Launched by the Maldives along with 10 other climate-handicapped nations, including Bangladesh, the CVF now represents over one billion of the world’s most vulnerable communities, whose very survival is threatened by the slightest sea level rise, frequent hurricanes or rapid desertification.

For Bangladesh, often referred to as the ‘ground zero’ of natural disasters, climate change is a survival battle braved by millions of its resilient people whose homes, lands and crops are lost to recurring wrath of nature.

Hasina said 2 percent of Bangladesh’s GDP is lost to extreme climate events every year. By the turn of the century it will be 9 percent; by 2050 more than 17 percent of Bangladesh’s coastlines will go underwater displacing 30 million.

“Six million Bangladeshis have already become climate displaced. And yet we continue to bear the 1.1 million Rohingyas from Myanmar at the cost of environmental havoc in Cox’s Bazar. Who will pay for this loss and damage?” she asked.

Noting that Bangladesh and other CVF nations contributed little to global emissions, the prime minister said, “It is time to address this climate injustice.”

During her presidency therefore, she has made it her mission to amplify the CVF’s voice and interest in every global climate discourse leading up to COP26, she said.

She mentioned that the Bangladesh presidency of the CVF came at a difficult time: the world was already at a cliff-edge of surpassing 1.5 degrees in 2020; major economies were struggling to upgrade their Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs by the end of last year; international cooperation on climate had been de-prioritised by the US for several years.

International climate finance was falling far short of the $100 billion pledged at Paris.

The G-20, accounting for nearly 80 percent of global emissions lacked the political will to finance transactional carbon markets to support low-carbon projects in vulnerable countries. Loss and damage remained a far cry.

“And then COVID-19 hit us like a bolt from the blue triggering the triple perils of climate, health and nature.

“A rude awakening finally forced the world to heed to my warning that the climate crisis is indeed an emergency.

And any recovery had to be green, nature-based and resilient,” Hasina wrote.

Therefore, she said, her first act as CVF president was to declare climate change a ‘planetary emergency’ and call upon all to be on a ‘war footing’ to arrest global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees.

By Autumn 2020, there had been very few NDCs, and COP26 was postponed, so Hasina launched the ‘Midnight Survival Deadline for the Climate’ initiative at the CVF Leaders’ Summit, urging every leader of every nation – “do not fail to show leadership now, declare extended NDCs by 31 December. This is practically our (CVF) survival deadline.”

Following the launch, 60 governments came forward with updated NDCs by Dec 31. The UK’s NDC update was most notable as the first major economy to align with 1.5 degrees and net-zero by 2050.

US President Joe Biden’s returning to the Paris treaty was also inspiring. “But those who failed to meet CVF’s midnight-deadline, I urge them, to submit ambitious NDCs ahead of COP26.

“CVF’s most vulnerable members pledged no less than a net-zero by 2030, including Barbados, Costa Rica and the Maldives,” she said.

Bangladesh, the CVF member with the largest population, also submitted interim NDC updates with additional pledges over and above Paris to reduce methane emissions.

Hasina said that climate adaptation and financing is a prime “survival” priority for Bangladesh and the CVF as they relentlessly struggle to protect their populations from recurrent extreme climate events.

“Realistically, my climate survival philosophy has been a common sense one. ‘Help thy self’ and wait for no one to rescue. Because, climate change is not going to spare us for our inactions,” the prime minister wrote.

“As a testament to this, I have long championed locally-led adaptation and resilience-building at the heart of which are local actors, especially women and youth,” she added.

The double jeopardy of Cyclone Amphan and devastating floods cost Bangladesh $3.5 billion in GDP losses during the pandemic last year, but the country’s disaster preparedness saved millions of lives.

Bangladesh has also learnt to self-finance its climate projects, according to Hasina, who mentioned the creation of a $450 million Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund that supports nearly 800 adaptation and resilience projects in its vulnerable coasts.

The country is spending an average 2.5 percent of its GDP – $5 billion each year – on climate adaptation and resilience-building through steps such as construction of sea dykes, cyclone shelters and coastal plantation.

Bangladeshi scientists invented nature-based solutions for the coastal communities, such as salinity and stress tolerant crops, rain reservoirs and pond-sand-filters, floating agriculture technology and mobile water treatment plants.

Inspired by Bangladesh’s climate resilience credentials, Hasina said, the Global Centre for Adaptation (GCA) headed by Ban Ki-moon, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, encouraged the prime minister to host the GCA’s South Asia Regional Centre in Dhaka.

She said the Centre is already forging regional and global partnerships, including with CVF, to accelerate adaptation actions for South Asia’s vulnerable communities after it was established in 2020.

“In Bangladesh, we are now championing climate prosperity. By pioneering the ‘Mujib Climate Prosperity Decade 2030,’ named after Bangladesh’s Founding Father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman during his birth centenary, I have called CVF nations to initiate ‘climate prosperity plans’,” Hasina said.

“But the CVF can only do so much on its own. There is a limit to adaptation too!” she said.

“It is vital to build strong CVF-COP solidarity. We want to see a Dhaka-Glasgow-CVF-COP26 Declaration emerge from November’s meeting.”

On behalf of CVF nations she demanded G20 submit ambitious NDCs before COP26.

She also demanded climate financing unleashed, not only towards low-carbon economy, but also for the promised $100 billion, and 50 percent dedicated to climate resilience-building.

“We want to see international carbon markets unlocked for transnational climate cooperation and solutions found to our profound loss, damage and climate injustice.

“In our war against nature, we will lose unless we unite,” she warned.

“We are consciously destroying the very support systems that are keeping us alive.

What planet shall we leave for the Greta Thunbergs or those at the Bangladesh Coastal Youth Action Hubs? At COP26 we must not fail them.”