71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Item 19: Sustainable Development [(d) Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind]
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
10th October 2016
Sri Lanka aligns itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of the Kingdom of Thailand, delivered on behalf of the G77 and China.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.” These words aptly describes the reason behind the very grave situation mankind finds itself in a world where its very existence is threatened by the changing global climate.
Man’s unsustainable actions spurred by his greed have resulted in climate change, prompted by global warming as a direct result of excessive emissions of greenhouse gasses, which continue to rise globally. Climate change poses one of the greatest contemporary challenges to humankind. In order to protect the global climate for present and future generations of humankind, far-reaching curative measures are required.
Two extremely important milestones in our collective quest in rising up to the challenge of Climate Change were reached during the past thirteen months.
Firstly, in September last year, our leaders adopted a specific Sustainable Development Goal on climate change: Goal 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, which epitomizes mankind’s efforts in fighting climate change.
Secondly, nations were able to reach a legally binding universal climate agreement in Paris in December last year, giving hope to a future, which would otherwise have been bleak. Signing of the Agreement in New York in April this year and subsequent ratifications of the same have injected in all of us a great sense of inspiration.
I am pleased to state that Sri Lanka signed the Paris Agreement in April this year, and our President deposited the Instrument of Ratification on 21st of September at the special event in the United Nations.
We heartily welcome the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on 04th November 2016, having been ratified by the requisite number of parties accounting for more than 55 % of global greenhouse gas emissions. The political will demonstrated by Member States should augur well for its effective implementation.
Sri Lanka’s per capita carbon emission is less than 1 metric ton per year. In that sense we are a negligible contributor to global warming. Nevertheless, as a developing country, we are highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
Extreme weather patterns spurred by climate change have affected Sri Lanka severely. Few months ago, we were affected by devastating floods and landslides due to intense rainfall on an unprecedented scale. At present, many parts of the country is affected by severe drought. These extreme weather events not only affects agricultural sector and food security of the country, but also, as a whole hampers our efforts for sustainable development.
Though the adverse effects of climate change are felt universally, across the borders, the impact of climate change is particularly harsh on developing countries. That is why it is important for the developed world to honour their commitments to the developing countries in terms of financial assistance, technology transfer and capacity building to tackle the challenge of climate change.
We have identified adaptation as the most suitable way to face the challenge of climate change. Sri Lanka has 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 identified certain priority areas for mitigation which have high greenhouse gas emission reduction potential. Energy, transport and industry sectors are these priority areas.
We are committed to protect our environment, and to make all possible efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by developing renewable energy sources and implementing energy conservation measures, thus contributing to the herculean, yet realizable task of protecting global climate for present and future generations.