- President’s discussions with many countries successful – Secretary, Ministry of Environment Dr Anil Jasinghe.
Dr. Anil Jasinghe, the Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, announced that Sri Lanka has formally committed to providing the essential funding for President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s 2048 Green Economy Programme. He also noted that, thanks to the President’s advocacy in international conferences and meetings with world leaders, several nations have swiftly expressed their interest in these agreements.
Furthermore, Dr. Anil Jasinghe underscored the significance of the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM), which serves as a gateway for collaboration with the Japanese government and the private sector in green initiatives.
Dr. Anil Jasinghe shared these insights during his recent appearance on the 101 Katha programme, produced by the Presidential Media Division. He elaborated on how Sri Lanka, under the President’s leadership, was able to establish agreements with Singapore, including the innovative concept of carbon credits.
Additionally, Dr. Anil Jasinghe highlighted that the Sri Lankan government, in partnership with the international community, is actively taking measures to reduce the impact of climate change. These measures aim to provide relief to those affected by natural disasters, including farmers.
Moreover, he disclosed that, in line with President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s directives, cooperation with neighbouring countries is anticipated to secure the necessary funds for addressing climate change-related challenges like droughts and floods.
Dr. Jasinghe further said;
In the past, weather patterns followed a certain predictable cycle, with occurrences like rains, floods and droughts adhering to established norms. However, the emergence of climate change has disrupted this pattern, introducing an unpredictable element. If this trend continues unchecked, we can anticipate a rise in both weather and climate fluctuations, leading to an increase in natural disasters.
The industrial revolution triggered the gradual escalation of fossil fuel consumption, which has now reached its zenith. Among the pollutants released, carbon dioxide emissions are identified as the primary driver of climate change. Consequently, we are witnessing global temperature rises, the melting of glaciers, sea-level elevation, and shifts in climate zones across different countries. This translates to amplified rainfall in already high-rainfall areas and exacerbated droughts in arid regions, causing significant alterations in biodiversity.
For countries like Sri Lanka, the impact is disproportionately severe. While our contribution to fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions is minuscule on the international scale, environmental effects know no borders. As an island nation and a small country, we bear the brunt of the consequences caused by the activities of larger nations more than they do.
If left unaddressed, projections indicate that certain areas of the Jaffna Peninsula may become submerged by 2090, with the intrusion of saltwater severely affecting agriculture.
Internationally, countries collaborate through initiatives like the Climate Change Conference (COP) to combat climate change. Each nation presents its National Determined Contributions to tackle climate change.
Our focus must centre on disaster mitigation, resilience-building in the face of calamities and disaster response strategies. Sri Lanka has the potential to pivot toward renewable energy sources such as solar, hydro and wind power, thus curbing greenhouse gas emissions. At a recent climate change conference in Egypt, President Ranil Wickremesinghe unveiled this strategy as the “Climate Prosperity Plan.”
Smaller nations, including our own, diligently lobbied powerful governments to make substantial financial contributions aimed at instigating transformative change in addressing climate change. President Ranil Wickremesinghe consistently championed this cause not only at this conference but also on various international platforms. After years of tireless efforts, a committee has been convened to present a report concerning the establishment of an international fund to address climate-related disasters at the United Arab Emirates Climate Change Conference scheduled for next December.
Various mechanisms for financing climate change mitigation have surfaced. The largest fund globally designated for this purpose is the Global Climate Fund, operating within the United Nations Climate Change Framework System. Prominent nations worldwide pledged an annual addition of $100 billion each, a promise they have regrettably failed to fulfil.
Furthermore, alternate means of financing our climate action and renewable energy endeavours exist, such as carbon finance. This carbon mechanism was adopted by all 194 countries worldwide several years ago, with President Ranil Wickremesinghe taking the lead in initiatives to generate income for our nation through this mechanism. Under this framework, Sri Lanka and Japan entered into an agreement known as the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM).
This agreement involves Japanese companies collaborating with Sri Lankan counterparts to invest in projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with contributions from both Japanese companies and the Japanese government. Primarily, these investments focus on the renewable energy sector, reducing reliance on fossil fuels like diesel. This initiative has given rise to the concept of carbon trading, which has gained significant traction.
Through the JCM, we have gained access to financial resources, technology and capacity building through Japanese investments. This provides us with the opportunity to obtain long-term economic benefits without the need for power plants, technology, or the burning of fossil fuels. Simultaneously, our Japanese partners receive a share of the profits from carbon trading as they invest in these projects. Currently, two projects are under discussion within the JCM framework. Additionally, our agreement with Singapore includes methods for greenhouse gas absorption.
At the directive of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, we are actively engaged as a climate justice collective at the COP 28 summit, advocating for the comprehensive loss and damage fund and his proposal to establish an international university focused on climate change.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s proposal encompasses all aspects of formulating a National Climate Change Act. A committee has been tasked with crafting a new environmental act that aligns with the contemporary world’s priorities, with an emphasis on climate change. These initiatives are also integrated into the National Environmental Action Plan developed approximately two years ago. All these endeavours are intended to be executed in a legal, transparent and meticulously structured manner, ensuring maximum benefits with minimal drawbacks.
It’s imperative to emphasize that all these investments are directed toward environmental preservation and nothing else. The more we safeguard the environment, the better equipped we are to mitigate the challenges and disasters stemming from climate change. This approach yields benefits across various sectors, including agriculture and fishing.