A missed opportunity?
Meer Saiful Islam, from Paris

  • Perhaps suggesting that climate change adaptation rests on the collective action of all countries, pillars bearing the flags of the countries of the world decorate the venue of the COP21 climate change conference in Paris, France  
    Photo- Meer Saiful Islam

Bangladesh has missed an unprecedented opportunity to present its case as a climate vulnerable country, as the leaders of 147 countries raised their concerns and pledged to face the challenges of climate change at the climate conference that began in Paris, France yesterday.

Bangladesh missed the opportunity as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, following the terrorist attacks in Paris, cancelled her plan to attend the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP21/CMP11).

“A political moment like this may not come again,” United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon told the inaugural session of the event, which aims to strike an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen adaptation measures to face the negative effects of climate change.

“But neither have we encountered such great opportunity,” he told the world leaders gathered together in one room for a single cause.

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The heads of state and government of the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Japan, China, India, Germany and Brazil were present at the conference. 

With the huge number of leaders scheduled to address the Leaders Event, the organisers arranged two meeting rooms to accommodate all of the speeches within the stipulated time.

Global leaders expressed solidarity with the people of France in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13 and vowed to fight against terrorism, which they said was no less critical an issue than the impacts of climate change.

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A large number of civil society representatives from Bangladesh, who are taking part in the event, expressed frustration over the prime minister’s absence.

They said world leaders would have eagerly listened to what the leader of one of the most climate vulnerable countries had to say.

They expressed disappointment over missing the chance to let the world know what this least developed country had so far achieved as far as climate vulnerability was concerned.

“We missed an opportunity,” said a civil society member from Bangladesh, who is a climate change expert. “This was an opportunity to highlight Bangladesh and the vulnerable LDCs,” he told the Dhaka Tribune, asking not to be named.

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