Combat climate change, leave better planet for posterity, Bangladesh PM urges global community


Stockholm : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday called the global community for tackling challenges of climate change together to make the world a harmonious abode and leave a better planet for the generations to come.

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“Let us embrace one anothers responsibility, burden, prosperity, and live in harmony within our planets capacity. . . let us leave a better world for our children and their progeny thereafter,” she said.

The Prime Minister was addressing the Plenary on Climate change: The road to Copenhagen and beyond on the occasion of the European Development Days-2009 at Stockholmsmassan, Victoria Hall here this afternoon.

“Let us reject all myopic, self-centred discords and reject the culture of excess and waste as climate change is our common threat that needs common action as delay would only increase cost of adaptation and mitigation,” she said.

At the outset of her speech, she expressed gratitude to the European community for its unflinching support for her return home from forced exile and for holding of a free, fair and credible election leading to the return of true democracy in Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina said though the emission of greenhouse gas from our country is negligible, Bangladesh has been seriously affected by the fallout of climate change because of its topography as a low-lying, deltaic country in the shadow of the Himalayas.

She said the world is also experiencing an onslaught of unprecedented and extreme natural disasters affecting the rich, developing and least developed countries alike due to climate change.

The Prime Minister said South Asia, particularly Bangladesh, has been experiencing colossal tidal surges, unreasonably high level of monsoon rainfall lately, landslides and heavy river erosions. Besides, in dry season, absence of seasonal rain has been causing desertification in the north, and shrinking water flow of rivers resulting in salinity intrusion in the south, she added.

She said the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction has thus placed Bangladesh as most vulnerable to floods, third most to tsunamis, and sixth most to cyclones, in terms of human exposure.

Sheikh Hasina said scientific findings indicate a meter rise of sea level due to global warming would inundate a fourth of Bangladesh, including the worlds largest mangrove forest, the Sunderbans, also an UNESCO World heritage site.

Giving a grim picture of climate change consequences, the Bangladesh premier said most alarming is the rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers by as much as 23 meters annually affecting over two billion people of South Asia, China and Indo-China.

This scale of meltdown has increased frequency of floods and would cause rapid climate shift resulting in acute water shortage in long term, she said adding with this trend, most of the region`s rivers would eventually die, change agricultural production pattern and end some of the world`s great cultures.

Sheikh Hasina said such a situation would swell Bangladesh`s cities, causing social disorders, infrastructural crisis, increase poverty and will lose the MDG gains. She said already climate change conditions are costing the country`s economy 0.5% to 1%.

The Prime Minister said Bangladesh will seek COP 15 in Copenhagen to adopt a new legal regime under the UNFCCC Protocol ensuring social, cultural and economic rehabilitation of climate refugees.

Explaining her government`s plans for adaptation to climate change that included capital dredging and maintenance dredging of major rivers, rising and fortifying riverbanks, transformed into green belts and modernizing disaster management system, she said Bangladesh is a resilient nation adapting to climate change.

Besides, the Prime Minister said Bangladesh has adopted adaptation plans to change agricultural practices, develop crop varieties attuned to climate change and intensifying micro-financing for poverty reduction.

She said Bangladesh has established a $45 million Climate Change Fund with own resources and a Multi-Donor Trust Fund of $150 million with the support of the UK.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh also has approved National Adaptation Program of Action with 15 action plans, Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) with 119 action plans and has designated authorities for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects.

She said Bangladesh strongly feels adaptation for self-preservation, and worldwide interest on global adaptation, calls for establishment of an International Adaptation Centre under UNFCCC.

Referring to mitigation measures, the premier said Bangladesh also recognises mitigation measures for reducing greenhouse gas although prime responsibility of mitigation rests on the developed countries and also on major emitters in the developing world.

Bangladesh, she said, is preparing a strategic energy plan for following a low carbon path to development that includes social forestry, as well as green belt through afforestation to create a large carbon sink, clean coal technology, nuclear power, and renewable energy.

She said already 600,000 solar home systems have been installed, vehicles converted to using compressed natural gas as fuel, industries producing toxic waste relocated equipped with effluent treatment facilities and biodegradable material used as alternate to synthetics.

The Prime Minister said sensing the utmost need of time Bangladesh calls for establishing a realistic fund on the generous side with sustained annual contribution to be channelled through the UNFCCC. The Fund should start operation from 2010 onwards to 2020 in the first phase and then beyond, she added.

Sheikh Hasina said such finance must be additional to and distinct from ODA targets of 0.7% of Gross National Income meant for developing countries, and 0.2% for LDCs by 2010, as reaffirmed in the Brussels Program of Action.

The Prime Minister said keeping climate change in view, it would be imperative to ensure unhindered yet increased ODA flow for the ongoing and future planned programs.

Regarding the upcoming Copenhagen meet on climate change, she said the outcome there must uphold the core principle of common but differentiated share of responsibility; and easily accessible funding for adaptation, access to scientific information to climate change in sectors like risk reduction, water resources, agriculture, energy, urban planning and health disorders.

“Bangladesh and other most vulnerable countries (MVC) to climate change are anxiously looking forward to Copenhagen,” she said adding that it must also ensure affordable, eco-friendly technology transfer to developing countries particularly to LDCs, make maximum possible specific commitments for deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Expressing her government`s concern over food security that would clearly be affected by climate change, she said the present government has adopted a National Food Policy to ensure food security for all.

Prime Minister of Vanuatu Edward Nalapei, Prime Minister of Kenya Raila Amollo Odinga and Prime Minister of Burkina Faso Tertius Zongo also addressed the plenary session as Eminent journalist of BBC Stephen Sackur conducted.

As the Bangladesh premier was invited on the dias to deliver her speech by the moderator of the session describing her as a prominent world leader and dreamer of Digital Bangladesh, she proceeded towards the podium amid thunderous applauses.

Among others, State Minister for Environment and Forest Dr Hasan Mahmud, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Environment and Forest, and BNP lawmaker Abdul Momin Talukder, Ambassador M Ziauddin, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Abul Kalam Azad and Bangladesh Ambassador to Sweden Imtiaz Ahmed were present.