Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said it is today, not tomorrow, to take action to save the planet as mankind is going to lose its 'war against nature'.
"In our war against nature, we’ll only lose. All our actions manifest that we’re consciously destroying the very support systems that are keeping us alive. So, the time to take action to save the planet is not tomorrow, but today," she said.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing the virtual Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) leaders' event from her official residence Ganobahban on October 7.
As the current president of the CVF, she chaired the event which was hosted by Bangladesh along with Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA).
She put emphasis on the strict implementation of the Paris Agreement saying that it is the only way to slow down the current rate of damages caused by climate change.
Sheikh Hasina said the governments should not only honour their national contributions under the Paris Agreement, they also need to substantially increase their ambitions. The idea of climate justice must be established for the sake of climate and the planet.
She said more vigorous provision of finance must be ensured by major economies, MDBs, and IFIs along with access to technology.
Hasina also urged all to take bold steps to address and mainstream the issue of losses and damages. "We should also ensure that at least USD 100 billion a year are available to developing countries for mitigation, adaptation and disaster response and recovery."
The Prime Minister said humans are presently at the most important crossroad of its history facing the gravest global challenges of its time. The adverse impacts of climate change are harming the civilisation, destroying the planet and threatening its very existence.
“We, the CVF leaders and our partners, call upon everyone to take urgent and strong global steps to address climate emergency before the 2020 NDC Enhancement deadline,” she said.
Hasina said Bangladesh is honoured to be chosen to lead the Climate Vulnerable Forum for the second time. The CVF represents over one billion people of the world’s most vulnerable countries. CVF countries suffer the most despite their insignificant contributions to the global carbon emission.
"As president, our focus will be galvanising support for the goal to keep the global temperature-increase up to 1.5 degrees, accelerating financing mechanisms and highlighting the narratives of climate resilience, and ‘loss and damage’ issue," she said.
She also said CVF will also put emphasis on appointing a UN Special Rapporteur on Climate Change and creating a CVF and V20 Joint Multi-Donor Fund.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh launched the South Asian regional office for Global Center of Adaptation in Dhaka on September 8, which will act as the Secretariat for Bangladesh presidency and facilitate, support and develop appropriate actions in South Asia to enhance climate resiliency in the region.
According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index, 2019 of German Watch, Bangladesh is the seventh worst affected country of the world due to the adverse impacts of climate change, she said.
"My country is facing recurrent flooding this monsoon causing immense damage to crops and displacing huge people. The impact of super cyclone Amphan in last May along with the current Covid-19 pandemic aggravated the situation. The 1.1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar given shelter in Cox’s Bazar are also causing serious social and environmental damages," she said.
Hasina said Bangladesh has been implementing various mitigation and adaptation programmes to combat the climate-induced disasters. The government has so far allocated USD 430 million from its own resources under the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund since 2009.
She said millions of tree-saplings are being planted every year across the country. Scientists have developed saline, flood- and drought-resistant crops and floating agriculture technology. The government has been spending on average US$ 2 billion, 1 percent of the GDP, per year since 2010 for adaptation purposes.
Hasina mentioned that the government has decided to launch a programme to develop national “Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan”, as the country is celebrating the birth centenary of the Father of our Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to help mobilise resources for the implementation of a new pathway to secure future for all.
She also said many other CVF countries are also managing climate change impacts efficiently. Costa Rica produces 100 percent renewable electricity for most of the year. In Ethiopia, 4 billion tree seedlings were planted last year and 20 billion will be planted by 2024.
"…despite the individual efforts, the robust international partnership remains indispensable for the climate-vulnerable countries to minimise the profound loss and damage," Hasina added.
She said the world is at the edge of the cliff of surpassing the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Centigrade limit. "This is a clear point of no return. And from the G20 countries which account for more than three-quarters of global emissions, we expect clear and definite NDC for effective reduction of their emission.”
The Prime Minister mentioned that if the current trend of sea-level rise is continuing, most of the island and coastal countries will go under water making millions of people climate refugees. “The world doesn’t have the capacity to shelter these refugees.”
Realising this, she said, Bangladesh parliament declared a “Planetary Emergency” and called on the world to work “on a war-footing’’ to stop climate change.
Hasina went on saying: ”Following the COP 26’s postponement, the decisive hour now falls at midnight on December 31 of this year when we declare our extended NDCs. This is practically the “survival deadline’’.
"On behalf of CVF, we launch today the CVF “Midnight Survival Deadline for the Climate” initiative to urge every leader of every nation to show leadership now. Convening alongside the UNGA, we also declare our call for an international day to be named “Climate Resilience Day” to secure our harmony with Mother Earth," she said.
UN Secretary General António Guterres, Chair of GCA Ban Ki-moon, heads of state and government of the CVF countries, the United Kingdom and Italy (host and co-host of COP26), the Netherlands, CVF thematic ambassadors and other international partners joined the event.
CVF is an international partnership of countries highly vulnerable to a warming planet.
Founded in 2009, the forum serves as a South-South cooperation platform for participating governments to act together to deal with global climate change.
Bangladesh has assumed CVF presidency for 2020-22 for the second time after its successful tenure as CVF president in 2011-13.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched Bangladesh regional office of Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) for South Asia in Dhaka, which will also serve as CVF Secretariat, according to the existing MoU between GCA and CVF Secretariat.