Prime minister Sheikh Hasina
Prime minister Sheikh HasinaFile photo

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has underscored the need for unlocking the carbon markets to ensure climate justice alongside finding solution to the losses and damages caused by natural calamities.

She said this in her article headlined “Forging Dhaka-Glasgow CVF-COP26 Solidarity” written in famous Diplomat magazine.

The magazine in its April, 2021 issue carried the article where Sheikh Hasina also urged all to take a united stand to effectively fight the war against nature.

In the article she wrote, “We want to see international carbon markets unlocked for transnational climate cooperation and solutions found to our profound loss, damage and climate injustice.”

Sheikh Hasina, also the incumbent president of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), said that like Bangladesh, every CVF nation has an irreversible climate loss and damage story to tell.

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“But they contributed little to global emissions. It is time to address this climate injustice,” she continued.

Calling upon all to remain united in the war against nature, the prime minister said, “In our war against nature, we’ll lose unless we unite.”

She said that humans are consciously destroying the very support systems that are keeping us alive.

“What planet shall we leave for the Greta Thunberg or those at the Bangladesh Coastal Youth Action Hubs? At COP26 we must not fail them,” she said.

We are spending on an average 2.5 per cent of our GDP $5 billion each year on climate adaptation and resilience building
Sheikh HasinaSheikh Hasina

She went on saying, “We want to see climate financing unleashed, not only towards a low-carbon economy, but also for the promised $100 billion, and 50 per cent dedicated to climate resilience building.”

To this end, she added that the CVF represents over one billion of the world’s most vulnerable communities, whose very survival is threatened by the slightest sea level rise, frequent hurricanes or rapid desertification.

She mentioned that for Bangladesh, often referred to as the ‘ground zero’ of natural disasters, climate change is a survival battle braved by millions of our resilient people whose homes, lands and crops are lost to the recurring wrath of nature.

The prime minister in her write up also said every year, two per cent of a country’s GDP is lost to extreme climate events, adding that by the turn of the century, it will be nine per cent.

By 2050, more than 17 per cent of its coastlines will go underwater displacing 30 million, she continued.

She said six million Bangladeshis have already become climate displaced and yet the country continues to bear the 1.1 million Rohingyas from Myanmar at the cost of environmental havoc in Cox’s Bazar.

“Who will pay for this loss and damage?” she questioned

The prime minister opined that international cooperation on climate had been de-prioritised by the US for several years and international climate finance was falling far short of the $100 billion pledged at Paris.

“The G-20, accounting for nearly 80 per cent of global emissions, lacked the political will to finance transactional carbon markets to support low-carbon projects in vulnerable countries. Loss and damage remained a far cry,” she continued.

And then, she said Covid-19 hit us like a bolt from the blue, triggering the triple perils of climate, health and nature.

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A rude awakening finally forced the world to heed to my warning that the climate crisis is indeed an emergency, she also said.

Mentioning that any recovery had to be green, nature-based and resilient, the prime minister said therefore, my first act as CVF president was to declare climate change a “planetary emergency” and call upon all to be on a ‘war footing’ to arrest global temperature rise at 1.5oC.

The prime minister said, “By Autumn 2020, I’d seen very few NDCs [Nationally Determined Contributions], and COP26 was postponed, so I launched the “Midnight Survival Deadline for the Climate” initiative at the CVF Leaders’ Summit.”

She opined that US president Joe Biden’s returning to the Paris treaty was also inspiring.

“But those who failed to meet CVF’s midnight deadline, I urge them to submit ambitious NDCs ahead of COP26. CVF’s most vulnerable members pledged no less than a net-zero by 2030, including Barbados, Costa Rica and the Maldives,” she wrote.

About Bangladesh, she said that Bangladesh, the CVF member with the largest population, also submitted interim NDC updates with additional pledges over and above Paris to reduce methane emissions.

For Bangladesh and the CVF, climate adaptation and financing is a prime ‘survival’ priority as we relentlessly struggle to protect our populations from recurrent extreme climate events, she further said.

Sheikh Hasina also wrote, “Realistically, my climate survival philosophy has been a common sense one. ‘Help thyself’ and wait for no one to rescue. Because climate change is not going to spare us for our inactions.”

The prime minister said that she had long championed locally led adaptation and resilience building at the heart of which are local actors, especially women and youth.

Referring to cyclone Amphan, she wrote that in 2020, when the Category-5 Cyclone mercilessly hit Bangladesh and India, Bangladesh demonstrated its capability to evacuate 2.4 million people and half a million livestock to safety in less than five days.

That same year, two-thirds of Bangladesh went under water in flash floods during the pandemic, she continued.

She mentioned that even though this double jeopardy cost $3.5 billion in GDP losses, disaster preparedness of Bangladesh saved millions of lives.

She further added that Bangladesh has also learnt to self-finance its climate projects.

The government has thus created a $450 million Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund that supports nearly 800 adaptation and resilience projects in its vulnerable coasts, the prime minister went on saying.

“We are spending on an average 2.5 per cent of our GDP $5 billion each year on climate adaptation and resilience building,” she informed.

Briefly spelling out the government measures to take preparation to face natural calamities, she said that Bangladesh built 16.4km of sea dykes, 12,000 cyclone shelters and 200,000 hectares of coastal plantation.

The scientists invented nature-based solutions for the country’s coastal communities, such as salinity and stress tolerant crops, rain reservoirs and pond-sand-filters, floating agriculture technology and mobile water treatment plants, she continued.

The prime minister said, “In Bangladesh, we are now championing climate prosperity. By pioneering the ‘Mujib Climate Prosperity Decade 2030,’ named after Bangladesh’s Founding Father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman during his birth centenary, I have called CVF nations to initiate ‘climate prosperity plans.”

“But the CVF can only do so much on its own. There is a limit to adaptation too!” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said we have already planted 11.5 million trees under the climate prosperity plan.

The prime minister said, “It is vital to build strong CVF-COP solidarity. We want to see a Dhaka-Glasgow-CVF-COP26 Declaration emerge from November’s meeting. We, the climate-vulnerable nations, want to see G20 submit ambitious NDCs before COP26.”

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