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World needs a ‘climate prosperity’ plan, not empty pledges: Hasina

  • News Desk,
    Published: 2021-10-19 13:48:31 BdST


Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says developed nations have refused to take seriously the needs of those countries most immediately affected by climate change.

“The inconvenient truth of our times is that while action on climate change has never been more urgent and achievable, governments are not cutting emissions fast enough to keep nations such as mine safe,” Hasina wrote in an article published by The Financial Times.

The prime minister’s criticism of the Western world comes in the run up to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26. The conference will be held in Glasgow, Scotland between Oct 31 and Nov 12.

COP26 is the first such conference since the Paris Agreement on climate change was signed in 2015. Under the framework of the agreement, each country was expected to submit plans to extend its efforts to mitigate climate change every five years. Due to the COVID pandemic delay, these updated pledges are due by the start of COP26.

In the north of Bangladesh, millions of people depend on freshwater stored every year in the Himalayan ice fields, which warming air is now destabilising. In the south, sea-level rise is exacerbating the threat from coastal flooding. Falling crop yields are another destructive change we can anticipate.

“Only a tiny fraction of global warming can be attributed to Bangladesh’s carbon emissions. Even so, we are committed to leading the path to a solution. This is not only because we wish to avert the worst of climate change; it also makes economic sense. Investing in zero-carbon growth is the best way to create jobs across the economy and ensure that our nation becomes more prosperous.

Bangladesh can implement this plan independent of other countries, although international climate finance would speed things along, Hasina wrote. “But what the world needs if we are to meet the Paris agreement goal to keep warming to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, is a global version of our climate prosperity plan.”

This year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow is the “best opportunity we will ever have to make one”.

“But as things stand, failure is a distinct possibility. Having pledged three decades ago at the Rio Earth Summit to lead the world out of the climate and nature crises, developed nations have cut their combined greenhouse gas emissions by less than one-seventh. That is not leadership.”

“Nor is their repeated refusal to take seriously the needs of those nations most immediately affected. Agreement to support the poorest in dealing with the losses and damages caused by climate change is far removed from implementation. Although recent net-zero pledges from the EU, US and others are welcome, they are largely not accompanied by policies that give confidence that they will be delivered. The $100bn per year finance pledge made 12 years ago remains unfulfilled.”

“This $100bn is tiny compared with what developing nations will need in order to build a zero-carbon future. Both governments and private institutions want to invest but we face the stark burden of a high cost of capital, exacerbated now by Covid-related debt,” Hasina wrote.

“If developed nations wish to help they must address this. Cutting the cost of capital will substantially accelerate decarbonisation across the global south, yielding worldwide benefits. If western leaders cannot see the logic of this, perhaps recent events in their own backyards will help — for what were the extreme forest fires seen in North America and Australia or Germany’s recent lethal floods, if not alarm bells clanging in regions of the world most responsible for climate change?”

“Bangladesh was born 50 years ago this year, a birth shrouded in blood and pain. My father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, inspired and led our independence struggle. It is in his memory that we have named our climate prosperity plan the Mujib Plan. Climate change is a very different foe from those he faced, but dealing with it requires a great deal of fortitude, imagination, hope and leadership. If western leaders listen, engage and act decisively on what science demands of them, there is still time to make COP26 the success it desperately needs to be.”

The major issues to be discussed at the COP26 event includes securing a global net-zero in carbon emissions by 2050 and keeping the goal of a 1.5 degree increase in temperature within reach, adapting to protect communities and natural habitats from the effects of climate change, $100 bn in climate finance a year, and cooperation to implement the Paris Agreement.