It’s time to act on the Glasgow Climate Pact – POLITICO

Sheikh Hassina is the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

At no other time in human history has a cause been more urgent than the fight against climate change; never has there been so much at stake for us on this planet we call home, and for all the species with which we share it.

However, the rousing speeches and inspiring language are just empty feelings now – just empty rhetoric and well-turned nothings in the absence of the robust action that scientists have long been calling for.

For the residents of Sylhet in Bangladesh, facing the worst flooding in a century, words are not enough. Words did not stop the flash floods from washing away their homes, destroying their livelihoods, killing their loved ones. And tweets of support or small aid packages are not enough for the 33 million people affected by floods in Pakistan last month.

Instead, what I’m calling for today is action – action to deliver on the promises made last year at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, to help nations like mine deal with the harsh realities of a warming planet. And as world leaders prepare to meet again, this time in Sharm el-Sheikh, I call on my esteemed colleagues to find ways to honor the commitments they have made and to at least double the provisions for adaptation as well as financing by 2025.

This financial support pledged by developed countries should be seen as a moral obligation – and it is vital for climate-vulnerable countries like mine. This also cannot be left for a later date. If it is to protect ourselves against the large-scale consequences of climate change that we are fighting and continue to fight at this very moment, help must be immediate.

Bangladesh currently contributes 0.56% of global carbon emissions, yet the proportion of damage inflicted on our country by climate change is overwhelming.

Sea level rise, coastal erosion, droughts, heat and floods will continue to weigh heavily on our economy. They will wreak havoc on our infrastructure and agricultural industry as we face significant challenges to avoid, minimize and address loss and damage associated with the impact of climate change, including extreme and slow-onset events.

Studies show that our GDP is expected to be significantly reduced due to human-induced warming, and that average income is expected to be 90% lower in 2100 than it would have been otherwise. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report predicts that Bangladesh will experience a net increase in poverty of around 15% by 2030 due to climate change.

It would be easy to become discouraged by such bleak forecasts, when the call for urgent action is not heard by many and progress is so slow. It would be much easier to succumb to the paralysis of anxiety, but we must resist.

And in Bangladesh, that’s exactly what we do.

In the face of such severe threats, we have so far been able to achieve relatively resilient and consistent growth. We also unveiled the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan to tackle climate change issues, from decarbonizing our energy grid to green investment initiatives – now and in the future – all with the aim of shifting our trajectory from vulnerability to resilience and, in turn, to prosperity.

We were the first among developing countries to adopt a comprehensive climate change strategy and action plan in 2009. So far, we have allocated $480 million to implement various adaptation programs and attenuation.

Temperatures in the UK this year exceeded 40 degrees Celsius for the first time in recorded history | Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Currently, we are also implementing a climate refugee housing project in our coastal district of Cox’s Bazar, aiming to construct 139 multi-storey buildings to house approximately 5,000 climate refugee families. And in my 18 years as Prime Minister, my government has given homes to about 3.5 million people to date.

In the meantime, we have adopted the “Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100”, which aims to shape a safe, climate-resilient and prosperous delta. And every year, my party plants millions of saplings to increase our country’s tree cover as well.

As a former chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and the V20, Bangladesh continues to focus on advancing the interests of climate-vulnerable countries. It is not enough to simply survive; we intend to succeed, to be a world leader, to show our neighbors and the world that there is still a path to a hopeful future, but we cannot do it alone.

The words of the international community must turn into action, once and for all.

The $40 billion increase in adaptation funding agreed in Glasgow should be seen as a first investment in our shared future. Otherwise, the cost of inaction will be immense: last year’s IPCC Working Group II report already warned that the loss of global GDP could reach 10-23% by 2100, far more than expected.

Each passing year brings into sharper focus the deeply interconnected nature of our planet in the 21st century, with supply lines and energy dependence casting a shadow over us all. This year has already brought more record-breaking heat events across the world, with temperatures in the UK exceeding 40 degrees Celsius for the first time in recorded history.

Climate change, loss and damage are already with us, everywhere we want to look. It plays out across the world in a myriad of ways. and the problems faced by climate-vulnerable nations like mine will soon be on the doorstep of other nations.

If we are to have any hope of overcoming this great challenge, we must recognize that the floods in Bangladesh, the fires in California, the droughts in Europe – all triggered by a temperature rise of just 1.2 degrees – are interconnected and must be faced together.

The promises made last year must be kept; words must ultimately lead to action.


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