Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina penned an article on the perils of climate change in Bangladesh.
The article, titled – "A third of my country was just underwater. The world must act on climate," was recently published as an opinion piece in UK's The Guardian newspaper.
In the succinctly written article, PM Hasina called on the world to act on climate change.
"One-third of my country was underwater last month. The heaviest rains in almost a decade began and have still not abated. More than 1.5 million Bangladeshis are displaced; tens of thousands of hectares of paddy fields have been washed away. Millions of my compatriots will need food aid this year," the opening paragraph of the article read.
PM Hasina wrote how the floods that came in the wake of Cyclone Amphan in May this year made it extra difficult to contain the spread of coronavirus.
"Calamities, alas, never strike alone," she wrote.
The Government of Bangladesh had moved than 2.4 million people from the destructive path of the storm without delivering them into the even greater danger of Covid-19; all the while containing the infection and death rates. The PM wrote that concerns will remain until a foolproof safeguard is acquired.
Sheikh Hasina wrote that Bangladesh is trying to save lives - like many other climate-vulnerable nations across the globe - by shoring up healthcare systems, and cushion the economic shock for millions of people, all while avoiding fiscal collapse.
"But this is not a cry for help; it is a warning. For while other countries may be less exposed to the climate crisis, they will not be able to escape its destructive force for long. Countries more fortunate than mine should take a long, hard look at what we are battling," she warned about the destructiveness that follows climate change and called on the world to act.
PM Hasina asked the world: "Recent research suggests rising sea levels will force hundreds of millions of people to abandon low-lying coastal cities worldwide by mid-century. Will the global community act in time to avert this catastrophe?"
Stressing the need for international action against climate change, she wrote: "The climate crisis is a national security threat to us. We already see the effects. Our climate emergency and Covid-19 are global threats. Both were predictable, and we could have – should have – done much more to minimize the risks. But now that they are upon us, the best way to respond, surely, is through concerted international action."
Sheikh Hasina described the climate crisis and the pandemic as complex problems; albeit, problems with many ramifications.
"They will either be solved collectively, or not at all. It will be futile to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to secure a Covid-19 vaccine for one nation alone, if the pandemic is allowed to rage elsewhere. And it will be similarly pointless for a majority of nations to rein in their emissions and build more sustainable economies if the world's largest emitters do not do the same."
The PM pointed out that the G20 countries are responsible for about 80 percent of total global emissions, while the bottom 100 countries only account for 3.5 percent; and added that the world cannot successfully tackle the climate challenge without significant action from everyone.
Deeming the 2015 Paris agreement as still the best chance to contain global warming and limit its most pernicious effects, she wrote: "To date, 189 countries have ratified a treaty that commits them to collectively cut emissions to stop global temperatures from rising by more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, and to try to limit the rise to 1.5C if possible. That last, more ambitious goal was proposed by the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), which I chair – a group of 48 countries disproportionately affected by a warming planet, Bangladesh among them."
"CVF nations have been at the forefront of climate adaptation as well as climate change, promoting initiatives such as building stronger shelters against cyclones and replanting mangrove forests to protect coastal communities from sea surges. In acknowledgment of this important work, the Global Center on Adaptation will open an office in Dhaka this month to extend these best practices across South Asia."
Hasina said the world's poorest, most vulnerable countries to climate change have kept their side of the bargain.
Citing the Sustainable Development Report 2020, she wrote: "43 countries in Africa and many more across Asia and Latin America have achieved our climate action goals. The rich world has not. International funding for climate adaptation is still far short of what is needed."
She wrote that more ambitious climate initiatives are unlikely to succeed without greater leadership, world-class technology and pioneering climate research.
"If we don't increase our ambition, we will all lose out," she stressed.
Finding low-carbon solutions and minimizing climate risks are the best ways of building more resilient - more efficient and more competitive economies, Sheikh Hasina remarked.
"We all benefit from thriving trading partners in a low-carbon resilient world. Surely no one is in favor of the alternative – a fractured global order in which even rich countries are impoverished by the destructive force of global warming."
The concluding remarks of the article, PM Hasina remarked that the climate crisis, Covid-19 and its economic fallout are crying out for international leadership and cooperation. She said no country should turn its back on the rest of the world at this time.
"At the next UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, countries must commit to enhancing their nationally determined contributions and ultimately give us hope for tackling all the other problems that afflict our collective existence."