SAARC governments must act together and quickly on climate change: CANSA

Kathmandu/New Delhi/Colombo/Dhaka/Islamabad: 26 November 2014: Over 120 civil society organisations, members of Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA) have called upon the heads of states gathering for the SAARC summit in Kathmandu to act together and quickly to combat the worst impacts of climate change in the region by adopting low carbon development pathways and co-operating on adaptation and disaster risk reduction as a priority.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report that was released on November 1 and endorsed by governments said that the only way our economies can still prosper is if we both phase out fossil fuel pollution entirely and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The UNEP Fifth Emissions Gap report released on November 18 makes plain that if governments scale up climate action now, they will unlock the benefits of action for their communities, such as better public health, more secure livelihoods and a reduction in poverty.

“While signing the ‘SAARC framework agreement for energy co-operation ‘(which is on electricity) in Kathmandu, governments must  work together for exploiting the region’s  vast renewable energy resources – sun, wind and hydropower within South Asian countries. The countries are well connected with electricity infrastructure and can be used through upgrading the grids. Climate impacted South Asia need to choose between ‘united we stand and divided we fall’ and thus need to prioritise climate agenda through regional cooperation for promoting peace, stability, amity and progress in South Asia,”  said  Sanjay Vashist, Director of CANSA.

The Report has already predicted more than 2*C temperature rise in South Asia pronouncing it as one of the most vulnerable region with high population density. Regional co-operation on disaster risk reduction and adaptation is an urgent and inevitable need of the hour and must be a priority on the summit agenda.

Members of Parliaments and representatives of national and regional civil society organisations (CSOs) of South Asian countries, attending South Asian Regional Policy Forum which was organised on 10-11 November 2014 on the eve of the 18th SAARC Summit in their “Kathmandu Declaration” have said:

“We appreciate SAARC leadership for adopting the Dhaka Declaration (2008) and Thimphu Silver Jubilee Declaration (2010) for combating climate change. However, we are deeply concerned with the lack of progress in their implementation. We hope that South Asian leaders will consider ‘implementation’ a key priority at the 18th SAARC Summit. Moreover, we think, in the context of climate change, a low carbon development path should be an opportunity to promote inclusive and sustainable development in the region. The already established SAARC Development Fund must open separate windows to support the implementation of decisions taken by SAARC leaders, particularly decisions made on disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and agriculture & food security.”

In early 2015, governments will table a commitment to take climate action that will speed up the ongoing transition of our economies away from reliance on fossil fuels that drive climate change and towards 100% renewable energy – a shift more and more citizens, businesses, investors and scientists are demanding and driving.

Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA) is a pan-Asia network of over 120 NGOs working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.


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