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70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Second Committee Item 20: Sustainable Development [(D) Protection of Global Climate for Present and Future Generations of Humankind)]

Thursday, 15 September 2016


Statement by

H. E. Dr. A. Rohan Perera, Ambassador and

Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations

Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind

19th October 2015


Mr. Chairman,

Sri Lanka aligns itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of South Africa, delivered on behalf of the G77 and China. 

Mr. Chairman, 

No one would disagree that climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our times. Emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise globally, resulting in climate change. Adverse effects of climate change such as persistent drought and extreme weather events, sea-level rise, coastal erosion, and ocean acidification increasingly hamper our efforts to achieve sustainable development and threaten the very existence of humankind. It is a global emergency that requires drastic remedial measures. 

It is man’s actions that has resulted in climate change, induced by global warming as a direct result of excessive emissions of greenhouse gasses. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the man to find solutions to the problem. As the challenge of climate change is universal in nature, it must be addressed collectively and multi-dimensionally in order to protect the global climate, which is part of the global commons, for present and future generations of humankind. 

Mr. Chairman, 

Although the adverse effects of climate change paint a very bleak picture, one may find solace in the fact that the world is prepared to take action, realizing the gravity of the effects of the changing global climate. 

Towards this end, global leaders, a couple of weeks ago, adopted a specific Sustainable Development Goal on climate change: Goal 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, which will definitely fortify mankind’s efforts in fighting climate change. 

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has recognized that “the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible international cooperation aimed at accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.”    

Similarly, the commitment of the nations to reach a legally binding universal climate agreement in Paris in December this year is inspiring. It is imperative that such a legal instrument must be built on the basis of equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. It is also imperative that this agreement be a robust global response to the challenge of climate change, and address issues such as mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer and capacity building. 

Mr. Chairman, 

Though the adverse effects of climate change are universal, it must be underlined that the impact of climate change is particularly severe on developing countries. We, therefore, believe that the developed countries must implement their commitments to the developing, by providing financial support, technology development and transfer, and capacity building in dealing with the challenge of climate change. 

It would be imperative for states to honour the mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emission of greenhouse gasses with a view to holding the increase in global average temperature below 2 ° C or 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.  This is the only way in which we can ensure the protection of our climate for the benefit of generations to come. 

Mr. Chairman, 

Sri Lanka is a negligible contributor to global warming, with a per capita carbon emission of less than 1 metric ton. However, as a country, we are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. 

Extreme weather events such as high intensity rainfall followed by flash floods and landslides and extended dry periods resulting in water scarcity are now becoming common occurrence in our country. Any adverse changes to already volatile climate patterns are likely to make an adverse impact on the socio-economic activities in Sri Lanka. 

Therefore, we contemplate action to tackle the impacts of climate change while taking appropriate adaptive measures to build climate change resilience. Vulnerability profiles for agriculture, water, health, bio diversity & eco system, and human settlement have been developed at national level to reduce the risk of disasters. 

Sri Lanka has identified adaptation as the most suitable way to face climate change issues, and developed a comprehensive National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. This Adaptation Strategy and the National Climate Change Policy formulated in 2012 are the major national initiatives in the adaptation process. We have also started compiling our National Adaptation Plan, and in this regard nine vulnerable sectors have been identified including food security, water, human settlements, bio-diversity etc.   

Sri Lanka has identified the energy, transport and industry sectors as the priority sectors for mitigation with high greenhouse gas emission reduction potential. We are making all possible efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by developing renewable energy sources and implementing energy conservation measures. 

Mr. Chairman, 

For over two millennia, since the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka, we have been inspired by the Buddhist philosophical idea that the Earth and its vegetation do not belong to the rulers and that they are only temporary trustees who have been entrusted to protect the environment for the benefit of future generations.  We must adhere to the same hallowed principle in protecting the global climate for our future generations.  

Thank you.