12/17/2009, 00.00
BANGLADESH - UN
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Sheikh Hasina in Copenhagen: Bangladesh, "most vulnerable" to climate change

by William Gomes
From the UN conference on climate the premier warns that a rise of one meter of water would cause 40 million refugees by 2050. “Immediate action" and a "binding" agreement on cutting emissions required. But the Copenhagen summit seems destined to fail.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - "Now is the time to show a common wisdom and make the right decisions for a greener and more habitable world”. From climate summit being held in Copenhagen, the prime minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina is warning the international community that "future generations will judge us for the choices we make today." The Prime Minister draws attention to her country, as  " Bangladesh is the most vulnerable nation in the world."

The UN summit on climate seems destined to be a failure. Negotiations are struggling to take off, there is little progress, and China seems to exclude the possibility of agreement. The chief negotiator from Beijing is opposed to the Danish proposal, which should be put to a vote later today. He adds support for "a short political statement of some kind", without specifying its contents. In the next few hours the various world leaders are expected to arrive in Copenhagen, but hopes of a common pact to cut emissions that cause global warming have been dimmed to a flicker.  

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, in her speech yesterday, stressed the urgency of a "common commitment" to meet emergency needs. "The refugees caused by climate change - said Sheikh Hasina - increase day by day. The rising sea levels and rising temperatures are destroying the habitat of fish and the lives of our fishermen. " There are increasing "natural disasters, erosion of riverbanks and salinisation of rivers" that endanger the lives of "millions of households engaged in agriculture."  

Hasina stresses that "the funds dedicated to development" are diverted to 'emergencies' and climate change has "an impact of between 0.5 and 1% of gross domestic product (GDP). A one meter rise in sea levels - caused by global warming - would flood 18% of the land "of the country, causing at least "20 million refugees" for a total of "40 million individuals denied of their forms of livelihood by 2050”.  

Concluding her speech, the Prime Minister called for "immediate action" and a "binding" agreement for industrialized countries "on cutting emissions." "I am confident that the dynamic leadership of Copenhagen – concluded Hasina - will provide positive feedback at the end of the conference. We must go beyond self-interest and national interests, promote a common and wise leadership, take decisive action". Hopes that, given the latest developments, appear destined to remain unfulfilled.

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