Britain, Bangladesh urge climate change action

  • World
  • Wednesday, 10 Sep 2008

MYT 12:02:15 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain joined forces on Wednesday with Bangladesh, one of the countries most prone to climate change, in calling for more money and a new world deal to combat the catastrophic consequences of global warming.

The call came at a meeting in London led by British International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander and Mirza Azizul Islam, finance adviser to the interim government of Bangladesh.

"Climate change is today's crisis, not tomorrow's risk and is already affecting millions of people in Bangladesh," Alexander said, noting rising sea-levels and falling crop yields in the world's sixth most populated country.

"But adaptation on-the-ground is not enough. We believe more must be done at a global level," he added.

He announced a 75 million pounds ($132 million) finance package to help Bangladesh, where some 70 million people are expected to be affected by flooding by mid-century, adapt to the ravages of global warming.

Bangladesh outlined its Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan to help it cope with the climate crisis.

The plan aims to boost food security, develop a full disaster response plan, build more cyclone shelters and raised housing, cut carbon emissions and improve early warning systems.

Climate change will hit Bangladesh's 153 million people from all sides -- rising sea levels in the south and droughts in the north, with more river erosion from melting glaciers and higher disease risk due to greater humidity.

Both men urged governments around the world to strike a deal in Denmark at the end of next year on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on curbing emissions of climate warming carbon gases from burning fossil fuels for power and transport.

Kyoto expires in 2012, and talks to find an expanded and extended successor are barely moving despite the deadline.

"We want a new sense of urgency to support Bangladesh in our search for a better tomorrow," said Islam.

"This is why today, we are presenting our Climate Change Action Plan and calling upon the international community to assist Bangladesh by providing predictable, long-term financing for this plan and also by pushing for a meaningful agreement at Copenhagen."

Danish Development Minister Ulla Tornaes told the meeting a far-reaching dealnt had to be struck in Copenhagen to avoid condemning the word's poor to even greater hardship and destitution.

"An ambitious new global climate deal is of crucial importance for global prosperity and global security and of particular importance for developing countries prospects for the future," she said.

Aid organisation Oxfam said urgent help and a comprehensive climate deal were crucial to Bangladesh where production of staple foods is forecast to drop steeply by 2050 due to accelerated melting of Himalayan glaciers from global warming.

It called for an 80 percent cut in global carbon emissions by 2050 and $50 billion a year to help fund adaptation to climate change in developing countries.

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