State secretary Jennifer Morgan said she had come to Bangladesh to meet the government and the people and to see for herself the impact of climate change in different parts of the country.

She has visited areas affected by the cyclone Amphan in 2020 where villages and livelihood were completely devastated. She talked to the people there and listened to their stories and their quest for life. She was struck by the resilient women who rebuilt their lives and the lives of their children.

She said Germany and Bangladesh shared 50 years of diplomatic relations and their cooperation has grown over the years.

She said she had visited a cyclone shelter which had the capacity for 15,000 people in a village of 40,000 people. So there was a need for infrastructure development so the people didn’t leave when disaster hit

“Bangladesh is leader in an international level in adaptation, tackling loss and damage,” she said, referring to Bangladesh’s role in the field and reiterating Germany’s commitment in this regard.

She said Germany was working together with Bangladesh in various climate-related efforts including to bring climate science into the planning process and had been working in the Sundarbans for the past decade. She expressed deep concern over the coal-fired power plant being set up there.

It is important to shift away from fossil fuel and move to renewable energy, Germany’s special envoy for international climate policy stressed. She pointed to the need to address mobility systems, a multimodal transport system and other interventions. She said she was impressed by the civil society and the NGOs in Bangladesh and their efforts in the area of tackling climate change.

In reply to a question from the journalists, Jennifer Morgan said coal plants were a matter of concern and this was a part of the transition the world was going through. In Bangladesh it may seem a local problem to the Sundarbans, but the impact of coals is well documented. There were commitments to phase out coal by 2030 though the timeframe may be different for developing countries where it could take longer.

She said, “Scaling up renewables like solar energy also leads to multiple benefits including job creation. And the good news was that the costs of transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy are not high.”

When asked about the issue of climate refugees, she said this was more and more visible. With rising sea levels and drought, she said that this was reaching the tipping point. This called for preventive action.

She said the warning systems in Bangladesh were impressive. Also, further preventive action would mean creating more robust living places, supporting local adaptation measures, looking in how best to build villages, how to plan crops and so on.

She said she had visited a cyclone shelter which had the capacity for 15,000 people in a village of 40,000 people. So there was need for infrastructure development so the people didn’t leave when disaster hit. It was to be seen how to actually contain the loss and damage. It was a highly complex issue but needed to be done. “Climate migration is happening and we need to work together in collaboration to support the people,” she said.

When asked about the crisis in Ukraine and what impact this might have on the plan for adaption, the state secretary replied that the aggression of Putin and Russia in Ukraine was horrifying and the priority was peace. “But that does not mean climate change is not the focus of Germany. We have to accelerate transformation while working for peace.”