Climate change: 'Not a distant fury'
Wednesday, 04 February 2009

Dhaka, Feb 3 (bdnews24.com) — Visiting Danish climate minister Connie Hedegaard says climate change is not some "distant fury", its widespread consequences are already being felt in Bangladesh and around the globe with one thing in common: unpredictability.

"During my visit I saw people are struggling with climate change. It is already here," Hedegaard told bdnews24.com in an interview on Tuesday.

"It's not a distant fury, it's not a distant future."

"Things are not as they used to be, you cannot use the knowledge that you inherited from your mother and father," said the visiting minister, who arrived in Dhaka on Monday to attend a conference titled 'Bangladesh on the road to Copenhagen'.

The main focus of Hedegaard's visit was to assess Bangladesh's preparedness for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen by year-end.

Low-lying Bangladesh, located in the Ganges Delta, will be one of the countries worst affected by climate change.

Denmark has already pledged to contribute to a multi-donor trust fund for chalking out climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes in Bangladesh.

"One of the biggest challenges right now for Bangladesh is adaptation to climate change I have learnt that in Bangladesh up to 40 percent of investment in development and infrastructure is likely to be affected by climate change," said Hedegaard.

Her delegation travelled to the southern district of Patuakhali "to see the consequences of climate change, to listen to the people already now living with the consequences of climate change," she said.

Witnessing those consequences—entire villages decimated by 2007's Cyclone Sidr, crops and livestock affected by more frequent floods—she said: "The villagers from Patuakhali share the fate of millions of vulnerable people all over the world, directly affected by climate change."

"And their stories indeed underline the importance of an urgent global effort to combat the threats of climate change."

UNPREDICTABILITY

Hedegaard said she was struck by how she heard "the same story" around the world. People affected by climate change have one experience in common, she said.

"Unpredictability - the climate is becoming ever more unpredictable."

"Before, we knew when to seed and when to harvest. Before, we had six seasons now we have three."

"What people learned from their forefathers, when to seed, harvest and hunt, that knowledge cannot be used any more. And that is a real challenge."

"This is the same message I heard last year in West Africa; I heard it in North Thailand, in Greenland."

Climate change affects the economic, security and social structures of our world today, she said.

"Climate change recognises no borders, knows no cultural or political divides; its impacts will be felt by all people, at every level," said the minister.

"That is what the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December is all about: The world must come together now."

COPENHAGEN

Denmark's prime minister called on rich and poor countries just days ago to commit to big cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of the key year-end talks he will host in Copenhagen.

"It is essential to engage heads of state and government stronger in the whole process to ensure a positive result in Copenhagen," Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos Friday.

Hedegaard told bdnews24.com Tuesday: "The industrialised countries must show clear leadership."

"We need to find a way how growth and sustainable development can go hand in hand. Because in 2050 it is said there will be around nine billion people in the world. An eight of them will be living in what we today call the developing countries."

"Also, it is necessary to secure additional financial flows. And it cannot be like pledges year after year from industrialised countries. We have to create steady revenues by means of new, innovative financial sources."

BANGLADESH'S EXAMPLE

"The urgency to act is ambitiously reflected in Bangladesh's timely development of a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan," said Hedegaard.

"Denmark looks forward to supporting Bangladesh in achieving its objectives and committed additional initial funds in support of the new Strategy and Action Plan for Management of Climate Change."

Denmark is contributing Taka 120 million (10 million Kroner) in addition to the more than Taka two billion that it already commits each year to Bangladesh, said the minister.

"I firmly believe that adaptation efforts must be integrated in national development plans and strategies."

"Let me finish where I started – with the villagers we visited," said the visiting minister.

"They belong to the world's most poor and vulnerable. And they have the right to expect improvements. They must get out of poverty and into a prosperous, climate resilient and sustainable future."

The answer, says Hedegaard, is leadership and political courage from governments all over the world.

"Courage to make a change right now," said the minister of the international community.

"And we need you," she said of Bangladesh, "as belonging to the group of LDC countries to speak up even more strongly in calling for global emission reductions."

"The Bangladesh example of putting climate change in front and centre of national development efforts gives me strong reasons for optimism."

"I promise you that what I learned here will not stay here in my head. I will let the case of Bangladesh be known to the whole world so that we know why we have to act and why we have to act now," said Hedegaard.

Source: bdnews24.com

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