We just can’t continue to talk about loss & damage doing nothing, says Saleemul Huq
Terming Bangladesh a "credible and important" voice in climate space, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson has said there is an "enormous" amount of work to do and follow up ahead of the COP27 making sure that commitments made on the climate front are now "turned into action" on the ground.
"There's a real sense of hope for what we're able to achieve at COP26 and in particular, the growth of trust between nations," he said, focusing on the priority climate actions that all need to be taken before the COP27 in Egypt, now in just eight months' time.
The 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) to the UNFCCC will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt in November this year.
High Commissioner Dickson was addressing a webinar titled "Building on the outcomes of COP26: Priority Climate Actions Ahead of COP27" held on March 11 (Friday).
Additional Secretary (Climate Change Wing) at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Md Mizanul Haque Chowdhury, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) Director Prof Dr Saleemul Huq, its Deputy Director Prof Dr Mizan R. Khan and Independent Consultant, Environment, Climate Change and Research Systems Dr Haseeb Md. Irfanullah joined as discussants at the webinar moderated by UNB Director Nahar Khan.
The British envoy said the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina played an "enormously important role" in Glasgow in shining the spotlight on the urgency of tackling climate action for vulnerable nations and a crucial role in raising global ambition.
"And we obviously very much hope that Bangladeshi input into the negotiations and discussions will continue because I think Bangladesh is an enormously credible and important voice in this space," Dickson said.
UNB Director Nahar Khan said climate change is already impacting every corner of the world, and much more severe impacts are in store if they fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and immediately scale up adaptation.
She said COP26 was eventually held last November following a delay due to the pandemic but a number of incremental steps were achieved that they can build upon in the run up to the COP27.
"COP26 gave us much to work with and perhaps more than ever before. It gave us the opportunity and a responsibility to reach important milestones in the negotiations that take place between each conference," Khan said.
Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and by 2050, with a projected 50 cm rise in sea level, Bangladesh may lose approximately 11% of its land, affecting an estimated 15 million people living in its low-lying coastal region, she said, quoting the Environmental Justice Foundation.
Mizanul Chowdhury said delivering the promised US$ 100 billion by the developed countries is a matter of "building trust" among nations for further fruitful climate negotiations.
He said developed countries and larger emitting nations must update their nationally determined contributions (NDC) with more ambitious mitigation targets before the COP 27 to reduce the existing gap so that the rising global average temperature can be limited to 1.5 degrees.
Chowdhury also laid importance on transfer of clean, green and advanced technology to the most vulnerable, developing countries for addressing the issue of loss and damage.
The governance issues of the Santiago Network for a specific financing window for loss and damage need to be addressed ensuring climate justice to the most affected climate frontier people, he said.
Saleemul Huq highlighted three key areas - the COP26 outcomes and how they will take that forward; the actual impacts of climate change, which are now a reality around the world; about possible avenues of further collaboration building on a very strong foundation between Bangladesh and the UK to tackle climate change.
Talking about implementation of the Glasgow decisions on loss and damage, he said there were two decisions - to create a setup and get it up and running as quickly as possible something called the Santiago network on loss and damage. "This is a very good development, a very excellent outcome of the Glasgow discussions. We need to take that forward."
The second one is the Glasgow dialogue on finance for loss and damage. "This is something of a disappointment, I must say because the CVF countries under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina actually asked for a Glasgow facility on finance for loss and damage," Prof Huq said.
He said they need to be doing things while they talk and that is the responsibility of the COP26 Presidency to ensure that they have a fruitful dialogue.
Prof Huq hoped that dialogue will actually lead to something more substantive than just keep talking. The COP26 presidency has the responsibility to hand over to the COP27 incoming Presidency for something to happen in Egypt at COP27. "Beyond simply talking about it, alright, we just cannot continue to talk about loss and damage and do nothing."
On adaptation issues, he said support for adaptation needs to be redoubled and they need to be much more at speed on doing the adaptation.
Prof Huq laid emphasis on building on a very well established and historic relationship between the UK and Bangladesh in the area of academia, collaborative research and universities.
"Bangladesh and the UK have a lot of knowledge and experience that can be combined together for the global good," he said.
Prof Huq proposed to the High Commissioner in particular and his colleagues in FCDO that they try and design a more strategic five-year programme of collaborative research between the UK and Bangladesh to tackle the twin threats of climate change and poverty globally. "We will do it as two countries, but we will do it for the global goal."
Prof Mizan Khan said they find a serious disconnect between global climate science and climate policy, both internationally as well as nationally.
He said their responsibility should be to make the climate fears visible so that the citizens feel the pain of the context. "We need to put global climate diplomacy on a different level from other kinds of diplomacies where national interest gets precedence over the collective interest."
He said climate change is a global problem for survival and they cannot deny it anymore. "We need to think collectively, imposing a social discount rate on climate investments. This is something very urgent that I feel, otherwise, we cannot make any decision."
Prof Mizan Khan said developed countries have assumed obligatory responsibility with the language support; still, the basic principles that are new and additional adequacy and predictability - these are the four principles of climate finance, but still, those are not respected.
The problem is that the developed countries still look at the global politics of climate change from the pure individual national interest perspective, but this is a global problem where collective action and collective solutions are needed and that is not respected, he said.
Dr Haseeb Irfanullah said COP27 offers Bangladesh the opportunity in three interconnected areas.
He said at the COP26, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has shown tremendous leadership and presented before the world a new development philosophy, moving from resilience to prosperity through the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan.
As the country is preparing its national budget for FY2022-2023, Dr Haseeb urged the government of Bangladesh to establish a biodiversity conservation fund.
"If we can create this national funding mechanism, it will be a fantastic milestone for Bangladesh's leadership in implementing the COP-26 decision," he said.
Because, Dr Haseeb said, the nature-based solution has been considered one of the effective ways to take ambitious, long-term actions against climate change.
He urged the concerned Bangladesh ministries to incorporate economic recovery potentials of nature-based solutions in the post-disaster rebuilding plans, when they try to build back better; as well as the post-pandemic recovery plan.
Dr Haseeb said they need to move forward, being called the "adaptation capital of the world," or "adaptation leader," or "adaptation teacher".
"I would love to see Bangladesh being more focused globally, and amazingly aggressive to raise funds for its prosperity and other development plans," he said.
Dr Haseeb said Bangladesh needs to be aggressive in funding its climate plans. "What is stopping us from desperately starting before COP27?"
British High Commissioner Dickson said it is worth remembering what they achieved in November last year, when the countries of the world gathered in Glasgow for COP26.
"Now clearly, it wasn't perfect, there was always more we can do as climate is an existential issue for all of us," said the high commissioner.
Dickson is very encouraged that the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in Bangladesh are drawing up a strategy to implement the "Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forest and Land Use" which commits signatory countries to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.
"And that's obviously an enormously important issue in Bangladesh as it is elsewhere. And I'm also pleased to hear that Bangladesh is already working on a revised nationally determined contribution, because it's really up to all of us now, to protect and strengthen the gains that we made at COP26," said the high commissioner.
Dickson said they continue to look forward to the Bangladesh national adaptation plan, which they hope will set out far-reaching and transformative adaptation measures.
Earlier, COP26 President Alok Sharma announced £120 million to support climate action in Bangladesh. The £120 million new programme for Bangladesh, from 2021 to 2027, will scale up locally led adaptation, expand renewable energy, tackle pollution and waste, and develop and empower the next generation of climate leaders.
The UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October - 13 November 2021.
The COP26 summit brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UK now holds the Presidency until COP27 later this year.
As the Presidency of the COP, the UK says there is "crucial work" to be done as they spend the coming months working with governments and organisations to make sure they deliver on the Glasgow Climate Pact, turning momentum into action.
The UK Presidency will do so by aiming for four goals - ensuring promises on emissions reductions are kept to keep 1.5 degrees alive; delivering for climate vulnerable countries by ensuring commitments on adaptation and loss and damage are honoured; getting finance flowing and working together and continuing to be an inclusive Presidency.
A video highlighting COP26 President Alok Sharma's visit to the Sundarbans and wild team centre during his Bangladesh visit in 2021 was also screened at the webinar hosted by UNB in partnership with the British High Commission in Dhaka.
With inputs from Abdur Rahman Jahangir and Md. Ishtiak Hossain
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