Dhaka, Bangladesh
Create framework for climate migrants

PM Hasina's call at COP summit

Create framework for climate migrants

Hosting 1.1m Rohingyas Bangladesh faces 'worst environmental calamity'

News Desk: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stressed a global mechanism in aid to climate refugees as world leaders opened Monday talks in Madrid on ways of tackling the planet-threatening natural disasters. Though the president of the United States, one of the greatest contributors to global warming through greenhouse gas emissions, intended to pull out from the Paris Agreement of nations, the world leaders attending the Conference of the Parties (COP25) meet in the Spanish capital resolved to carry on the combined combat. United Nations executive chief Antonio Guterres set the tone of the UN Climate Change Conference. Confronted with a climate crisis threatening civilisation itself, humanity must choose between hope and surrender, he told the opening plenary of the climate summit. "One is the path of surrender, where we have sleepwalked past the point of no return, jeopardising the health and safety of everyone on this planet," Guterres said. "Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand, that fiddled while the planet burned?" The spirit of the forum also seemed impacting the mode of the US. In a separate forum moments earlier, US Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi told the 'COP25' conference that the world could still count on the United States despite President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement. Sheikh Hasina gave a detailed account in separate forums of the perils facing Bangladesh, a delta, for demographic distortions, including through influx of 'stateless' people, and impacts of climate change, and sought global attention to find remedies. She called upon the international community to adopt a time-befitting climate action plan and implement all provisions of the Paris Agreement and other relevant global instruments and mechanisms to stop further degradation of environment. "Any consequence of failure to deliver a climate action plan must fall equally on every country, especially on the countries which are more responsible for contributing to climate change, and the cost of our inaction is devastating for every living person," she told the general roundtable at the COP25 conference. "To stop further degradation of environment, we must implement all provisions of Paris Agreement and other relevant global instruments and mechanisms," she added. Prime Minister Hasina also urged the international community to initiate discussions on creation of an appropriate framework to address the needs of people who got displaced due to climate change. She noted that it is the responsibility of the leaders and the politicians to make public aware of the critical situation and the actions required to stop it from developing. "We cannot decide to be undecided." The COP25 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change kicked off at Feria de Madrid, the largest exhibition complex in Spain and one of the most important venues in Europe, in the morning. The Prime Minister's call came while addressing the Action for Survival: Vulnerable Nations COP25 Leaders' Summit. "We must appreciate that migration could be an effective adaptation strategy, as we focus on enhancing adaptation capacities of affected communities. Hence, relocation and protection of displaced persons need due focus in global discourse to ensure their protection. We need to commence discussions on creation of an appropriate framework to address the needs of people displaced due to climate change," she said. She said it is widely accepted that the gravest effect of climate change may be on human migration. Extreme weather events are already displacing many more people than violent conflicts. Slow-onset events like sea-level rise and desertification get even lower global focus. "We must work towards correcting this imbalance." Pointing at the leaders of Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), Sheikh Hasina said, "We now have a situation where the most vulnerable countries, which deserve the highest level of priority, are failing to access whatever support that is being realized." She said creation of a new CVF and V20 Trust Fund and possibility of having a new Special Rapporteur on climate change would be a great success. Noting that CVF and V-20 are great examples of South-South and Triangular cooperation, she said, "We want to further build on the current accomplishments. The time is now to act as we're at the most important crossroad of human history confronting possibly the gravest global challenge of our time." She said climate change has now become an existential threat for every country, especially for the climate vulnerable countries like Bangladesh. With more than 1.1 million Rohingyas from Myanmar causing all sorts of environmental havoc, Bangladesh already has the firsthand experience of the worst kind of environmental calamity, she pointed out. "We must therefore establish a set of criteria to prioritize vulnerable countries based on their risks, impacts and lack of coping capacities. We also want to keep the climate change support and the regular development finance strictly separate," she added. Hasina said major emitters show extreme reluctance on mitigation, which may wreck the international climate regime and put the climate vulnerable countries like Bangladesh at the risk of peril. "Hence, we shouldn't hesitate to demand accountability for inaction." "We're also looking towards the 2020 Climate Adaptation Summit in the Netherlands to strengthen our adaptation efforts. And Bangladesh is ready to take the responsibility of the Presidency of the Forum if the Members kindly agree to honour us with this task," she said. The Prime Minister said climate change is a stark reality for the world. It has now caused irreversible damage to human life and environment, ecology and natural resources. Since the Earth Summit in 1992, it has not been able to secure much progress in the reduction of greenhouse gases and their emission is still on the rise, she said, adding that this trend is now unsustainable for the Earth. "We, the vulnerable countries, suffer the most due to our limited coping capacities and specific geographical features. We're bearing the brunt of the damage though we made negligible or no contribution to the menace. This constitutes a serious injustice and must be acknowledged by the global community," said the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, she regretted, the progress under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) process is very slow and largely inadequate. There's still hardly any move to support nationally determined adaption initiatives undertaken especially by our vulnerable countries, the PM added. Different funds created for different purposes lack availability of the required capital, she pointed out. "Often direct and easy access to funds and technology along with conditions and criteria seem to favour mostly the countries that already have acquired greater capacities," Hasina told her audience. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC Patricia Espinosa and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet Jeria, among others, spoke at the event. The prime minister, in her speech at the roundtable, asked the global community to take the responsibility for climate migrants as they are getting displaced for no fault of their own. "As our people will be displaced for no fault of ours…we expect the international community to shoulder the responsibility of accommodating them and providing them with livelihood," she said. Sheikh Hasina said, "All 'Funds' to fight climate change must be replenished as per our agreement, including the $100 billion annual contribution." She said the Convention and the Paris Agreement recognise the special circumstances and needs of LDCs and 'Particularly Vulnerable Countries' based on the principle of the 'common but differentiated responsibility', and this recognition must be adhered to in every delivery mechanism of the climate finance. Hasina warned that there is a limit to resilience and adaptation. "We simply have to stop the increase of global temperature at 1.5 degree centigrade more than the pre-industrial level." Despite lack of interest among many to adopt adequate measures, he said, Bangladesh is a firm believer of collective efforts and understanding to fight climate change and UN is the most appropriate platform. "We think to stop further degradation of environment, we have some useful international mechanisms like Paris Agreement and other relevant global instruments and mechanisms, and we must strictly implement our agreed provisions," Hasina said. From now on, she said, the principle of 'Loss and Damage' must feature prominently in all negotiations and the 'Warsaw International Mechanism' must be given a much stronger mandate to explore financing losses and damages through its review. "The global landscape of climate finance is highly fragmented -- complex and grossly inadequate," the PM said. She said the concept of equity or fairness is a fundamental issue that underlies the framing and operationalisation of the Paris Agreement under the Convention through which greater levels of international cooperation under the Convention and its Paris Agreement may be achieved. "We hope that finalisation of robust rules under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement must continue environmental integrity, avoid double counting and other accounting loopholes, deliver a share of proceeds from the market mechanism for the Adaptation Fund to assist overall mitigation in global emission," she said. "Any consequence of failure to deliver a climate action plan must fall equally on every country, especially the countries which are more responsible for contributing to climate change, and the cost of our inaction is devastating for every living person," she added. The Prime Minister said it is the responsibility of the leaders and politicians to make the public aware of the critical situation and the actions required to stop it from developing. "We cannot decide to be undecided." She said climate change now has become an existential threat for climate-vulnerable countries like Bangladesh. "We're fighting the battle on two fronts. First, mitigation measures to reduce and eventually reach to zero emission in future. Second, adaptation measures in areas where irreparable damage has been done." She said lives and livelihoods of millions of people would continue to be at risk unless all concerned deliver on both these two fronts. Hasina said the time is ticking fast to the point of no return. "It urgently needs to limit temperature increase to 1.5oC and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, by cutting 45 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050." She said Bangladesh, the largest delta in the world, is the worst-affected country by adverse impacts of climate change. "Up to 2050 from now, our annual GDP loss will be 2 percent and at this rate by 2100, the loss will be a staggering 9 percent." According to the World Bank, more than three-quarters or 134 million of around 165 million population of Bangladesh are at the risk of declining living standard as a result of rising temperature and erratic rainfall due to climate change, the Prime Minister noted. By 2080, some 40 million people will be homeless due to sea-level rise, she said adding that Unicef, in April last, published that in spite of excellent progress on resilience and adaptation, Bangladesh has 6 million climate migrants already and the number could be more than double by 2050 and 19 million children in Bangladesh are already under threat. "We'll never achieve the SDGs and eradicate poverty if the adverse impacts of climate change are not stopped." Hasina said when people are vulnerable and left with no choice to survive, they will resort to any action endangering state, regional and global security. "Their weakness and vulnerability make them easy prey for threats like radicalization and we are already experiencing its devastating effects all over the world." In spite of being a non-emitter and being severely constrained in terms of resources and choices, Bangladesh is doing its best to enhance its resilience. Noting that Bangladesh is the first LDC to establish a Climate Change Trust Fund, she said Bangladesh has so far spent more than $415 million from own resources for mitigation and adaptation purposes. "We're set to spend as much as $10 billion to make the country less vulnerable to natural disasters." The PM said the Bangladesh Parliament recently adopted a motion declaring the current state of climate vulnerability as a planetary emergency calling all other Parliaments to act to adopt necessary measures to reduce global warming. She said the presence of 1.1 million Rohingyas, who fled persecution in Myanmar, has caused an environmental and social havoc in an environmentally critical area, Cox's Bazar, with the loss of forest, hills, biodiversity and local livelihood. "So, we already have the dreadful experience of how the situation after a climatic calamity may turn out." (Inputs taken from UNB, other agencies, media reports)

Share |