In a compelling address at the 28th session of the Conference of Parties (CoP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Dubai, UAE yesterday (01), President Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged the historical significance of the UN Conference on Human Environment, emphasizing its goal to defend and improve the environment for present and future generations.
He referenced the alarming findings of the UNEP Report of 2023, titled “Broken Promises,” which warns of a 3-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures by the end of the century.
Highlighting the challenges faced by developing countries, President Wickremesinghe stressed the disproportionate vulnerability and impact due to lower adaptive capacities in Finance, Technology, and Climate investments.
He cited the Independent High-Level Expert Group Report on Climate Finance, which underscored the need for at least a US$ Trillion per annum to combat climate change.
The President commended the Government of the United Arab Emirates for hosting the crucial event and expressed gratitude for their warm hospitality
Expressing concern about the lack of concrete measures in the Transitional Committee’s report on funding arrangements, the President called for a more transparent approach, particularly addressing issues of global debt relief. He questioned the wisdom of avoiding contentious issues, emphasizing the urgency of the climate crisis.
President Wickremesinghe advocated for climate justice accessible to all nations and proposed a resolution for a Climate Justice Forum. This forum, agreed upon at the 5th Forum of the Ministers of Environmental Authorities of Asia Pacific, aims to provide a platform for constructive and proactive engagements, with the proposal scheduled for the UN Environment Assembly on 6th February 2024.
Underlining the critical nature of the current period, the President urged immediate action to find effective solutions, thinking outside the box and investing in the Tropical Belt to tackle the Triple Planetary Crisis.
The Tropical Belt, covering 134 countries and 44% of the Earth’s surface, holds rich biodiversity and potential for renewable energy. President Wickremesinghe announced plans for a panel to report on the Tropical Belt Initiative, emphasizing its global impact.
As the current Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), President Wickremesinghe linked the health of the Indian Ocean to climate change. He stressed the need for a sustainable Blue Economy to counter the adverse effects of rising sea levels, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and extreme weather patterns.
President Wickremesinghe also revealed plans to establish the International Climate Change University (ICCU) for capacity building and advancing research, operationalizing it next year. The ICCU aims to contribute significantly to global efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe’s address at COP28 outlined a comprehensive approach, blending regional initiatives like the Tropical Belt and the Indian Ocean with global measures, reflecting Sri Lanka’s commitment to climate action and leadership on the international stage.
Prez meets PM Modi
Meanwhile, a meeting took place yesterday afternoon (01) between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Expo City, Dubai.
Posting on X (formerly Twitter), Premier Modi said that "it's always wonderful to connect and discuss various issues."