"The time to take action to save the planet is not tomorrow, but today," she said in her prerecorded video message in the Foreign Policy Virtual Climate Summit.
The Prime Minister said that climate change is not boundary-specific. "If one country emits, every country is affected. So, every country would have to play its role," she said.
She, however, said the rich countries, especially the G20 nations, should play the main role in halting the global emission.
Sheikh Hasina also hailed the USA's return to the Paris Agreement and appreciated US President Joe Biden’s decision and also about holding the Leaders’ Summit last week.
She stressed the importance of implementing the Paris Agreement wherein the international community pledged to form a USD 100-billion fund each year for the adaptation and mitigation purposes.
Hasina said that in the Paris Climate Accord, member countries have agreed not to allow the global temperature to rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius.
"But nothing substantial has so far been done to check the emission of greenhouse gases which are responsible for the temperature rise," she bemoaned.
Sheikh Hasina said the global temperature is rising and there is no doubt about it. “And this temperature-rise is the main culprit of all ills. The continuous rise in global temperature is the most pressing concern for human kind.
"After the Covid-19, the most discussed subject of the time perhaps is climate change. Climate change has now become a huge threat to every country, especially the climate vulnerable countries like Bangladesh," she said.
The Prime Minister said that the entire world is passing through a tough time due to the Covid-19 pandemic claiming a large number lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more every day. "We need united efforts to get rid of the deadly virus."
Talking about the challenges of Bangladesh on the climate change issue, the Prime Minister said that countries like Bangladesh have been experiencing increased frequencies and ferocities of various natural calamities like flood, drought, tidal surge, nor’wester and lightning. "Currently, a heatwave is sweeping over my country."
Last year, she said that Bangladesh experienced heavy monsoon that submerged one-third of Bangladesh. Several cyclones, including super cyclone Amphan, also hit the country last year. “All these phenomena are due to climate change.”
"Bangladesh is not an emitter. In fact, no member country of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) is a significant emitter. But we’re the worst sufferers. Every year 2% of my country’s GDP is lost to extreme climate events."
In this connection, she mentioned about the 1.1 million forcibly evicted Rohingyas from Myanmar that Bangladesh has given shelter in the environmentally critical Cox’s Bazar district heavily affected the ecology of the area.
Hasina also said that the bottom 100 countries account for just 3.5% of the global emission whereas the G20 countries are responsible for 80%. The CVF countries are at the forefront of climate adaptation.
She mentioned that Bangladesh is the first LDC to establish a Climate Change Trust Fund. So far, it spent over USD 415 million from its own resources to implement over 800 mitigation and adaptation programmes. “Our Parliament adopted a motion in 2019 declaring the current state of climate vulnerability as a planetary emergency.”
Hasina went on saying, "We’re planting 30 million saplings and launched a programme called 'Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan', marking the birth centenary of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman."
She said that Bangladesh is spending on average 2.5% of its GDP equivalent to US$ 5 billion each year on climate adaptation and resilience-building. Bangladesh has built 12,000 cyclone shelters and 200,000 hectares of coastal green belts.
The scientists of Bangladesh have invented salinity and flood-tolerant crops, rain reservoirs and pond-sand-filters, floating agriculture technology and mobile water treatment plants for the coastal people, she said.
The Prime Minister said: "The provisions of water bodies and tree plantation are ensured while implementing any project. We’re creating artificial mangrove forests in the chars and shoals of coastal districts."
The government is building cyclone-resistant houses for the poor in the cyclone-prone areas, she said, adding, “For preserving water and increasing navigability, we are dredging rivers and canals throughout the country.”
She also mentioned that the Global Centre on Adaptation has set up its South Asian Regional Office in Dhaka. The centre is working to disseminate local-based innovative adaptation practices.
Editor-in-Chief of Foreign Policy Ravi Agrawal moderated the event.
The Prince of Wales Charles, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Foreign Minister of Japan Toshimitsu Motegi, President of COP26 Alok Sharma and Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth of United Kingdom Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP, among others, spoke at the programme.