Bangladesh PM says country 'cannot wait' for help with climate action

FILE PHOTO: Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed speaks with a reporter during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, U.S. September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Bangladesh must take climate adaptation matters into its own hands and “cannot wait for assistance”, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Tuesday.

Bangladesh has received “many promises” but “very little” international finance to tackle climate change, Hasina said at the Overseas Development Institute, a London-based think tank.

“So we have to do something for ourselves,” she said.

Among the measures the government was taking, she said, was building schools “that can double up as shelters in case of a cyclone”, constructing storm-resilient homes, and improving health and sanitation conditions in refugee camps.

Bangladesh is hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighboring Myanmar in crowded camps in Cox’s Bazar District where they are threatened by flooding, disease and landslides with the monsoon season scheduled to start in the coming weeks.

The environmental advocacy group Germanwatch ranked Bangladesh sixth out of 182 countries most affected by extreme weather events between 1997 and 2016.

About 60 percent of deaths caused by cyclones around the world in the last two decades occurred in Bangladesh, according to the World Bank.

Hasina told the event it was “unfortunate” that countries like the United States that were “very eager on climate change” were scaling back their climate ambitions.

U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to pull his country out of the Paris climate deal, and questioned the scientific consensus that global warming is dangerous and driven by human consumption of fossil fuels.