Addressing the 5th Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of the Asia Pacific at the Shangri La Hotel in Colombo today (05), President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized three crucial points: the urgency of the climate crisis, Sri Lanka’s ambitious climate plans and the dire state of global biodiversity.
President Wickremesinghe opened his speech by drawing attention to the pressing climate concerns facing the world today.
He cited the alarming estimate from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), stating that global warming is projected to reach a dangerous 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052. “Humanity is facing an existential threat,” he declared.
He highlighted the interlinked crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, emphasizing the devastating impact on individuals and communities worldwide.
The President then turned to Sri Lanka’s commitment to addressing these challenges. He pledged to accelerate nature-based solutions, including renewable energy, through Sri Lanka’s Climate Prosperity Plan, which was launched at COP 27.
“Sri Lanka is in the process of renewing the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan 2016 to 2022 to achieve the objectives of the Kunming-Montreal Global Diversity Framework,” he announced. Additionally, he unveiled an ambitious Net Zero 2050 roadmap for Sri Lanka, set to be launched at COP 28.
President Wickremesinghe stressed that despite Sri Lanka’s minor global emissions contribution (0.03%), the country is dedicated to significant reductions.
Sri Lanka aims to achieve a 14.5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, generate 70% of its electricity from renewable sources, attain a 32% forest cover, phase out coal power by 2042, and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
The President also expressed deep concern over the state of global biodiversity. He lamented that the world has already lost 8% of known animal species, with 22% at risk of extinction due to habitat destruction and invasive species. “We are now losing biodiversity up to 10,000 times faster than it was disappearing 100 years ago,” he warned.
The President’s call for collective action and his unveiling of ambitious climate plans underscored the gravity of the global situation.
“Countries unwilling to do their part to stop the climate crisis are guilty of committing genocide,” he concluded.
Ali Salajegheh, the Vice President of Iran and Head of Iran’s Department of Environment, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Minister of Environment Naseer Ahamed, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry, Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda, National Security Advisor and Chief of Staff to the President, Sagala Ratnayaka, representative of the Major Group for Children and Youth and representatives from member countries of the Asia Pacific region and professionals participated in this event.