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COP26: Bangladesh slams developed nations for decades of climate ’empty pledges’

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has come down heavily on the developed nations for climate “empty pledges” in the past decades.

Sheikh Hasina
Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina

She also made a plea to the world leaders to turn pledges into action.

“If western leaders listen, engage and act decisively on what science demands of them, there is still time to make COP26 the success it desperately needs to be,’’ she wrote in an article published by British daily The Financial Times on Monday, October 18, 2021.

“The inconvenient truth of our times is that while action on climate change has never been more urgent and achievable, governments are not cutting emissions fast enough to keep nations such as mine safe,’’ Hasina wrote in her article titled, “We need a global ‘climate prosperity plan’ not empty pledges.’’

She was critical of the western world ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, slated to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12.

The developed nations are not taking seriously the needs of the countries most immediately affected by climate change, she said.

In the north of Bangladesh, millions depend on fresh water stored every year in the Himalayan ice fields, “which warming air is now destabilising.’’

In the south, sea level rise was exacerbating the threat from coastal flooding. Falling crop yields are another destructive change “we can anticipate”, she said.

Earlier this year, Hasina said that her government cancelled plans for 10 coal-fired power plants, but that was a relatively small step.

“Subsequently, with COP26 in view, we developed the world’s first national ‘climate prosperity plan’ a vision under which we will enhance resilience, grow our economy, create jobs and expand opportunities for our citizens, using action on climate change as the catalyst.’’

Under the plan, she said, they would obtain 30 per cent of energy from renewables by the end of the decade.

The plan was expected to simultaneously prevent up to 6.8 per cent of the economic damage that would otherwise come not only from climate change but also increasingly uneconomic fossil fuel infrastructure.

“I believe more developing nations will adopt such plans in the coming months and years, led by members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum.

“This year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow is the best opportunity we will ever have to make one,’’ Hasina wrote.

Although recent net-zero pledged by the European Union, the United States and others were welcome, she said that the $100 billion U.S. dollars per year finance pledge made 12 years ago remained unfulfilled.

“Nor is their repeated refusal to take seriously the needs of those nations most immediately affected. Agreement to support the poorest in dealing with the losses and damages caused by climate change is far removed from implementation,’’ she continued.

“If developed nations wish to help, they must address this. Cutting the cost of capital will substantially accelerate decarbonisation across the global south, yielding worldwide benefits.’’

“If western leaders cannot see the logic of this, perhaps recent events in their own backyards will help for what were the extreme forest fires seen in North America and Australia or Germany’s recent lethal floods.

“If not alarm bells clanging in regions of the world most responsible for climate change?” she wrote.

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