Climate change is no longer a distant perspective for “our children and grand children”; it is an urgent challenge for us, here and now. Every day, somewhere in the world, violent cyclones devastate coastlines, destroying homes and schools; droughts ravage crops and cause water shortages; sea-level rise endangers coastal areas all around the world; heavy floods displace thousands and damage valuable farm land. These are not mere “changes”: they are disruptions. Disruptions of our development efforts, disruptions of democracy, stability and security.
2015 is a crucial year for the global efforts to keep climate disruption within manageable proportions. In December, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), world leaders will come together in Paris to agree on a new climate treaty. It is the best chance we’ve had so far to make significant progress towards limiting the rise in average global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius – the objective agreed upon by the international community. We must reach a pragmatic, yet ambitious and comprehensive legal agreement. And we’ll need the active participation of all countries to get there.
Today, by coming to Bangladesh, we underline the significance of fighting climate change collectively. Due to its geography, Bangladesh is among the most vulnerable nations in the world. Millions of Bangladeshis are already facing pressing challenges from erratic weather conditions that severely damage infrastructure and farmland, threatening their livelihoods.
Such challenges mean that we must take a balanced approach to tackling climate change: on the one hand, quickly and deeply reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, to avoid unmanageable consequences in the future; on the other hand, managing the unavoidable impacts of climate disruption already felt today, through adaptation policies. An adequate response to the climate challenge must address both adaptation and mitigation in a balanced manner, according to countries’ responsibilities, priorities, and evolving circumstances.
Developed countries have to take the lead in sharply reducing their emissions. They have shown their determination to do so last June at the G7 summit in Germany, where the governments of the world’s leading economies agreed on “a decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century”. Germany and France, together with all 28 EU member states are taking their responsibilities: the EU committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
The United States, China, and thirty other countries have also come forward with their “national contributions”, i.e. the actions that they would take until 2025 or 2030.
Many more contributions, including that of Bangladesh, are expected until the Paris conference. By then, we expect at least 80 to 90 % of global greenhouse gases emissions to be covered under these “contributions”. The agreement that we will hopefully adopt in Paris will thus be rooted in truly universal action on climate change.
Setting targets and developing policies is, however, not sufficient if developing countries do not have the means to implement them. G7 leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to contributing to mobilize 100 billion USD annually by 2020 for developing countries. Beyond this important commitment, all financial flows will need to be reoriented toward low-emissions and resilient economies. Public finance will continue to play a crucial role, particularly by catalyzing private finance towards low-carbon investment opportunities, as well as ensuring that the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries have access to finance – especially for their adaptation needs.
Bangladesh offers many inspiring examples of effective cooperation to manage climate risks on the ground. Today, we will visit Southern Bangladesh to observe first-hand the situation in areas suffering from extreme weather conditions and slow-onset events. In Patuakhali, cyclone shelters have been provided through our development cooperation in order to strengthen the resilience of local communities.
The building we are inaugurating has a dual purpose: sheltering populations in times of need, and serving as a school the rest of the year. It symbolizes the fact that countries can tackle climate change without sacrificing on their other development priorities, and reap the co-benefits of climate action on economic growth, public health and resource efficiency.
France and Germany fully support Bangladesh, a long-term partner, in its endeavors. Together with all Least Developed Countries and the entire international community, we will do our utmost to reach an ambitious outcome in Paris. The threat can’t be ignored; the opportunity should be seized.
Writers: Foreign Minister of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Foreign Minister of France Laurent Fabius
BDST: 1735 HRS, SEP 21, 2015