- For the first time, a Sri Lankan platform at the COP 28 Conference.
- Three Ministers and two opposition MPs will accompany the President.
- 20 youth representatives, private sector corporates in the energy and environmental sectors, with a media team, will participate at no cost to the government.
As the world gears up for COP 28, President Ranil Wickremesinghe is spearheading Sri Lanka’s delegation, to the Conference, which is set to tackle pressing climate change issues and to address critical decisions. The Conference will convene world leaders, public-private representatives, environmentalists, and scholars. The President envisions three key focal points: the launch of the Climate Justice Forum, the Tropical Belt Initiative and the establishment of a Climate Change University.
In a visionary move initiated by President Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka is set to launch the Climate Justice Forum during the upcoming COP 28 Conference in Dubai, scheduled from November 30 to December 12. The President, accompanied by 03 ministers and 02 opposition MPs, along with twenty young participants passionate about environmental concerns, will engage in this pivotal conference in Dubai. The primary objective is to harness support and collaboration from countries in the Tropical Belt to influence policy-making decisions on a global scale.
Addressing the special press briefing on COP 28 participation this morning (29) at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC), Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ali Sabry said that President Wickremesinghe’s concept behind the Climate Justice Forum aims to address the pressing issue of climate change and exert influence, particularly on the Global North. Sri Lanka, recognizing the critical role it plays in the fight against climate change, seeks to actively engage with the international community to garner support for its ground-breaking initiatives.
Among the key agendas to be presented and discussed during the COP 28 Conference are Sri Lanka’s recently introduced roadmaps on Green Hydrogen and Sustainable Energy. The country is also seeking endorsement for the establishment of a Climate Change University, signalling its commitment to fostering education and research in sustainable practices.
Climate change has emerged as one of the most crucial challenges in the world, and Sri Lanka, like many other nations, is making determined efforts to contribute to global mitigation strategies. Minister Ali Sabry, emphasized the tangible impact of climate change and underscored the imperative for global cooperation. He highlighted the critical role of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, held annually since the pre-industrial revolution era, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees °C.
A noteworthy aspect of Sri Lanka’s approach is recognizing the plight of the approximately 136 countries within the tropical belt, which bear the brunt of the adverse impacts of climate change. By championing initiatives like the Climate Justice Forum, Sri Lanka seeks to unite nations facing similar challenges and collectively address the urgent need for climate action.
Drawing attention to the vulnerability of tropical countries, which are housing 40% of the global population, faces disproportionate environmental consequences. The Minister stressed the importance of concerted efforts in addressing climate challenges. The minister articulated Sri Lanka’s proactive stance at the conference, advocating for principled decisions to combat environmental pollution and promote transformative initiatives.
Additionally, in line with the President’s guidance, Sri Lanka proposes the establishment of an international university dedicated to climate change, emphasizing the need for rigorous scientific study in this domain, as well as securing international investments to mitigate climate change. Several tropical belt nations have expressed their willingness to support this initiative.
Meanwhile speaking at the Press Briefing, Environment Minister Keheliya Rambukwella highlighted the evolving landscape of environmental discussions in the contemporary world, where economic and security concerns often take precedence. He emphasized the growing importance of environmental issues, signalling a shift in global priorities.
In today’s discourse, the Minister underscored that environmental considerations have gained prominence, recognizing the critical role they play in shaping the world. The Minister acknowledged that the primary cause of environmental damage lies in the historical neglect of ecological concerns. The Minister expressed concern about the immeasurable environmental harm caused by human activities, particularly during the Industrial Revolution.
Reflecting on the international commitments made in 2015, Minister Rambukwella noted the gap between these agreements and their practical implementation on the ground. He highlighted the significant pressure faced by tropical countries, attributing it to the actions of developed nations. Notably, this year’s conference assumes heightened significance within the United Nations framework, given the urgency to establish a robust foundation for addressing environmental challenges and preventing further damage.
Minister of Power and Energy, Mr. Kanchana Wijesekera, emphasized the pivotal role of this year’s conference in advancing Sri Lanka’s renewable energy agenda. He highlighted the significance of the opportunity to generate electricity through sustainable resources, emphasizing that plans for this initiative were presented last year.
Minister Wijesekera noted the findings of survey reports by global institutions, such as the World Bank and development agencies, indicating the substantial potential for electricity generation to meet both national and regional needs. Drawing attention to the recently unveiled green hydrogen roadmap of Sri Lanka, he outlined the strategy to leverage offshore renewable potential in the Northern Province.
Expressing the challenges in securing financial support for energy projects in Sri Lanka, the Minister stressed the importance of obtaining technical and financial assistance, especially from international organizations. He underscored the uniqueness of this year’s conference, providing a dedicated platform for Sri Lanka to engage with local and foreign organizations and make crucial decisions.
Minister Wijesekera outlined the country’s commitment to obtaining 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, with a focus on excluding fossil fuels. He called for the support of state leaders in achieving this ambitious target, highlighting the need for financial backing. The Minister estimated a requirement of at least US $12 billion by 2030 for the successful implementation of renewable energy projects and expressed confidence that the conference would serve as a crucial platform for addressing these financial considerations.
Mr. Ruwan Wijewardene, Senior Presidential Adviser on Climate Change, underscored the global significance of the upcoming conference, labelling it as one of the most crucial gatherings in the world. He highlighted the participation of government leaders from influential nations, major corporations, and religious leaders, making it an ideal platform to address the impacts of climate change and seek necessary solutions.
Drawing attention to the economic consequences of climate change for Sri Lanka, Mr. Ruwan Wijewardene noted the substantial annual financial losses incurred by the country. Referring to insights from World Bank experts, he emphasized that, by the year 2050, Sri Lanka is projected to face a loss of 1.2% of its gross domestic income due to climate-related issues. In this context, he advocated for leveraging the conference as an opportunity to devise strategies to minimize these losses and address the challenges posed by climate change.
Mr. Pasindu Gunaratne, Chairman of the National Youth Service Council, emphasized the need to scrutinize the environmental degradation caused by human activities. He highlighted a significant milestone for Sri Lanka, with a delegation of young representatives, led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, participating in the conference. Acknowledging their active role in contributing to climate change initiatives in the country, Gunaratne mentioned that, under the guidance of the National Youth Service Council, numerous programs have been initiated to educate the youth about climate change, in collaboration with organizations such as UNICEF and the British Council.
Mr. Gunaratne emphasized that the young representatives have not utilized any government funds for their participation in the conference. He described them as a dedicated group committed to finding solutions to Sri Lanka’s climate change challenges. Sri Lanka currently ranks 30th globally for climate change, and Mr. Gunaratne stressed the collective responsibility to prevent future generations from becoming “climate orphans” unaware of the impending dangers.
Sri Lanka takes pride in submitting a substantial number of proposals to this year’s conference, underlining the commitment to translate proposals into actionable initiatives on the ground and, for the first time, will showcase its own platform, signalling the nation’s commitment to global climate action.