Caritas Bangladesh staff join a human chain and mass rally with climate activists and advocacy groups to express solidarity with the climate strike movement in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Sept. 24. (Photo courtesy of Caritas Bangladesh)
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called on world leaders to fulfill their promises of reducing emissions and providing financial assistance for initiatives by vulnerable countries like Bangladesh.
She told the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York on Sept. 23 that to avoid catastrophes the world must devote attention and investment on two fronts — climate change mitigation and reducing carbon emissions.
“The climate crisis is an existential threat, particularly for climate-vulnerable countries,” Hasina said. “The lives and livelihoods of millions of people will continue to be at risk unless we deliver on both fronts.”
Environmental activists believe that poor and vulnerable countries like Bangladesh don’t have a strong negotiating capacity to gain from climate conferences.
“Countries like Bangladesh are the least emitters but the most vulnerable, and their capacity to claim compensation for damage repair is little,” Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of COAST Trust, told ucanews.com.
“There is an unease among rich and developed countries in reducing emissions and donating to a climate fund, which is saddening because for vulnerable countries it’s question of survival.
“There is global politics over climate change, which deprives poor countries, but there is no way to give up. There is growing consciousness about climate change, which is at least good news for countries like Bangladesh.”
Developed nations and top businesses need to change their mindset about climate change, according to Daud Jibon Das, regional director of Caritas Khulna, which covers Bangladesh’s vulnerable coastal region.
“It is true that developed countries pretend not to consider climate change as a serious problem, but recurring natural disasters like cyclones and flooding leading to loss of lives and livelihoods show things are going from bad to worse day by day,” Das told ucanews.com.
“All we can do is continue our initiatives on climate change adaption and mitigation efforts, and strongly present the cases to the world so that the mindset of global leaders can change.”
The New York summit yielded few commitments from developed nations for strong climate action and support for countries vulnerable to climate change impacts.
The summit was seen as a starting point for global climate negotiations in 2020 and to set the next deadline for nations to make dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
During his closing remarks, U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres said 77 countries had announced efforts to achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and several asset fund managers and dozens of businesses had promised to abide by the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.
However, the United States, which has vowed to pull out of the Paris agreement, said nothing, while China made no new promises to take stronger climate action and a host of countries made only a few commitments.