LONDON (Reuters) - Britain and Bangladesh joined forces on Wednesday to call for more money and a new global deal to combat the catastrophic consequences of climate change.
By Jeremy Lovell
The call came at a meeting in London led by British International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander and Mirza Azizul Islam, finance adviser to the Bangladesh interim government.
"Climate change is today's crisis, not tomorrow's risk and is already affecting millions of people in Bangladesh," Douglas said, noting rising sea-levels and falling crop yields in the world's sixth most populated country with 153 million people.
"But adaptation on-the-ground is not enough. We believe more must be done at a global level," he added.
Britain used the occasion to announce a 75 million pounds ($132 million) funded finance package to help flood-prone Bangladesh, where more than one million people are directly affected by rising sea levels, adapt to the ravages of global warming.
Bangladesh outlined its Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan to help it reduce and cope with the climate crisis.
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."
Aid organization 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.
"We are seeing more and more floods and people losing their homes. Shorter winters have meant food production has decreased and people working on the land have lost their jobs and their livelihoods," said Elora Ferdous, Oxfam program officer in Bangladesh.
"Current funds fall far too short and the process is too long and cumbersome. We cannot afford to wait. We need money now so that we can protect communities."
Oxfam called for an 80 percent cut in global carbon emissions by 2050 and a $50 billion a year to fund adaptation to climate change in developing countries.
The World Development Movement lobby group said it expected that up to 35 million Bangladeshis would face having their homes flooded by mid-century.
(Editing by Matthew Jones)