Leaders Summit on climate makes Bangladesh optimistic

The return of the United States to the Paris agreement and strong political commitment it has shown in the leaders Summit on climate have made Bangladesh ‘optimistic’ that the annual target of $100 billion global climate fund will be ensured this time.

Ensuring this fund from 2020 onwards for the vulnerable countries was a pledge in the Paris climate agreement, but it could not be fulfilled mainly due to the US’s withdrawal from the agreement during the Donald Trump administration.

But President Joe Biden took action on his first day in office to return the US to the Agreement. He hosted the leaders’ summit on Thursday inviting 40 head of governments and states.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, speaking at the summit, placed four suggestions including “ensuring the annual target of 100 billion US dollars which should be balanced 50:50 between adaptation and mitigation with special attention to the vulnerable communities while pursuing Loss and Damage”.

“We are optimistic (about the fund),” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said on Friday at a virtual press briefing on the outcomes of the summit.

President Biden told the virtual summit that the US would cut emissions blamed for climate change by 50 to 52 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.

“The cost of inaction keeps mounting. The United States isn’t waiting,” Biden said. “We have to step up,” Biden said. “We have to take action — all of us.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres hailed the pledges made at the summit by the world leaders as a turning point but urged immediate action.

“Today’s summit shows the tide is turning for climate action, but there is still a long way to go,” Guterres said in a statement.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina “deeply appreciates” the United States’ return to the Paris Climate Agreement in her speech and said Bangladesh is keen to engage with the international community.

“Despite being a climate vulnerable country with resource constraints, Bangladesh has emerged as a global leader on adaptation and mitigation. Every year we are spending about 5 billion dollars, about 2.5 percent of our GDP, on climate adaptation and resilience-building measures,” she said.

“The 1.1 million forcefully displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar whom we have sheltered worsened our vulnerability.”

“Bangladesh is pursuing a low carbon development path. To raise our Nationally Determined Contribution-NDC and adaptation ambition, we have included new sectors in addition to the existing energy, industry and transport sectors in the mitigation process. We are planning to submit a quantified ambitious NDC by June 2021,” she said.

Bangladesh is observing ‘Mujib Year’, marking the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

To celebrate the year, the government is planting 30 million saplings nationwide and adopted “Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan” to achieve low carbon economic growth. 

As the Chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum-CVF and V20, Bangladesh’s key focus is to uphold the interests of the climate vulnerable countries.

“We are hosting the South Asian regional office of the Global Centre on Adaptation which is promoting locally-led adaptation solutions,” said the prime minister, before placing the four suggestions as a “responsible” member state of the COP, and as the Chair of CVF.

Those are: Immediate and ambitious action plan by developed countries to reduce their carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise at 1.5 degree Celsius. The developing nations should also focus on mitigation measures; Ensuring the annual target of 100 billion US dollars which should be balanced 50:50 between adaptation and mitigation with special attention to the vulnerable communities while pursuing Loss and Damage; Major economies, international financial institutions and private sectors should come forward for concessional climate financing as well as innovation; and Focus is needed on green economy and carbon neutral technologies with provision of technology transfer among nations.

The foreign minister at the briefing said political commitment is always important to keep the global temperature rise at 1.5 degree Celsius.

“Funding is secondary,” he said, “If there is political commitment, funding won’t be a problem”.

The leaders’ summit is a “breakthrough” in that sense, he said as world leaders made renewed pledge to achieve the climate target,

He said the summit is a “key milestone” before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to be held in November in Glasgow.

Earlier on April 9, US President’s special envoy on climate change John Kerry visited Bangladesh and handed over the invitation letter to the prime minister.

Following the trip, the US embassy said, at the summit, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be recognised for Bangladesh’s leadership of countries especially vulnerable to climate impacts. 

“As the Chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and the Vulnerable Twenty Group of Finance Ministers, Bangladesh plays a vital role in international efforts to combat climate change and adapt and build resilience to climate hazards,” the embassy had said.