June 14, 2024
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    Sri Lanka Commits to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2040 While Pursuing Economic Goals Featured

    June 05, 2024

    President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that Sri Lanka is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040 while pursuing its economic goals. He noted that Sri Lanka is the first country in Asia to incorporate the global objective of zero carbon emissions into its national policy.

    He made these remarks during the World Environment Day celebrations held at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (05).

    The President emphasized that Sri Lanka’s approach to climate change and environmental issues goes beyond traditional programs and is now integrated into the country’s economic and foreign policies. He also highlighted that the upcoming Climate Change Act and the establishment of the Climate Change Centre will create a comprehensive legal framework for addressing environmental and climate change issues, a framework that is unique compared to other countries.

    President Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted Sri Lanka’s proactive role in recent COP Conferences on Climate Change and other international platforms. He announced a significant initiative: the draft for establishing the International University on Climate Change in Sri Lanka is expected to be enacted before June next year.

    The President expressed skepticism about the financial commitments from the Western world and developed countries to address climate change. He noted that the money spent by the US and Europe this year on the war in Ukraine could have funded climate change efforts for two years.

    President Wickremesinghe urged developed countries to provide relief to low-income African nations, while stressing that tropical countries must secure their own funding to manage climate change effectively. By doing so, tropical countries can contribute significantly to global climate control.

    President Ranil Wickremesinghe signed the gazette announcement declaring the Warnagalawatta Environmental Protection Zone in the Ratnapura district. He also symbolically awarded medals to eight students from four school environmental pioneer brigades.

    During the event, the first issue of “Soba” magazine was presented to the President. Additionally, mineral kits were distributed to schools, environment-friendly mining licenses were issued, and certificates and gifts were awarded to the ten best green railway stations.

    In conjunction with World Environment Day, a National Environment Week was announced starting from May 30, with numerous special programs organized across the island to increase the country’s forest cover.

    In his remarks, President Wickremesinghe emphasized that this year’s World Environment Day is being celebrated at a crucial time. He expressed optimism that focusing on global climate change will help achieve the climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

    The World Environment Day celebration, held at the Presidential Secretariat under the theme “Effective Land Use is a Healthy Alternative,” also saw the launch of the “National Green Procurement Policy” under the President’s leadership.

    President Wickremesinghe further added,

    “This year, we are celebrating World Environment Day at a very crucial time. When we focus on global climate change, it gives us hope that we can achieve the climate change goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

    Global temperatures have already risen beyond our expectations. While some developed countries are implementing various programs to combat climate change, nations such as India, China and Indonesia have indicated they need more time to achieve these goals. Additionally, there are also petroleum-producing countries.

    Amidst these challenges, small countries like Sri Lanka are struggling to address climate change. We must now take new measures to combat this issue. Limiting ourselves to the initiatives undertaken during the establishment of the Ministry of Environment is no longer sufficient. To achieve our goals, we need to implement several new programs, and we have already begun this work. The first step is to establish a new legal framework. We have already submitted the initial legislation to Parliament.

    The National Policy on Economic Transformation (a) II, as outlined in Section 3 of the Economic Transformation Bill, sets the goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. With this commitment, we have become the first country in Asia to incorporate the goal of net zero carbon emissions into our national policy.

    We must reach this objective while also meeting the country’s economic targets. Our focus is on achieving this goal by 2040, a decade ahead of schedule, and we are progressing accordingly.

    Once this bill is passed, it will become national policy. All organizations, including those in the non-governmental sector, will be required to comply with it.

    Additionally, it is necessary to amend the environmental laws prepared by the Central Environment Authority. These laws, drafted in the 1980s, are now out-dated and need to reflect current conditions. We plan to make these amendments in the near future.

    Specifically, we are working on introducing the Climate Change Act and the Act establishing the Climate Change Centre. Once these drafts are enacted, Sri Lanka will have a fundamental legal framework addressing environmental and climate change issues.

    We have also planned to establish a dedicated unit within the Ministry of Finance focused on creating a green economy. This unit will be responsible for funding programs aimed at promoting a green economy, and we expect to have the entire system in place by the end of this year.

    Additionally, we have directed the implementation of the agricultural modernization program in alignment with our environmental policy. By integrating environmental policies with the agricultural modernization program, we ensure that these initiatives reach every village. This work will be implemented on a national scale.

    A country like Sri Lanka cannot remain silent at a time when the entire world is heavily impacted by climate change. Therefore, I have instructed the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Environment to actively engage in the Conferences on Climate Change (COP) and other international platforms to advocate for environmental issues.

    We are taking significant steps to establish the University of Climate Change as a key initiative. We have engaged in discussions with several countries and secured 600 acres of land in the Kothmale area for this purpose. The draft plan will be completed next month, followed by discussions with relevant international organizations. We aim to have this initiative legalized by June of next year.

    We aim to collaborate with these universities to conduct international-level research on addressing climate changes. However, challenges have emerged in securing the necessary provisions for this endeavour. Many developing countries are requesting financial assistance, citing a lack of funds. However, I believe not every country needs to take this approach. For instance, despite its current economic difficulties, Sri Lanka has not sought such financial aid.

    Moreover, we have requested the cancellation of existing debts for economically underdeveloped countries in Africa, and we are collaborating with many other nations to achieve this. Additionally, the promised funds from Western and developed countries have not yet been received. Notably, the money spent by the United States and Europe this year on the war in Ukraine would be sufficient to address climate change issues for two years. The expenditure by Russia is yet to be calculated. Furthermore, if the funds and weaponry costs associated with the Gaza conflict were redirected to climate change efforts, it could significantly impact the world.

    However, we cannot expect to receive this money. Therefore, Sri Lanka has proposed that as a tropical region, we should find the necessary funds ourselves.

    While advocating for developed countries to provide relief to low-income nations in Africa, we will seek to generate the needed money within our own countries. Several companies are actively working to obtain carbon credits, particularly in the environmental sector. We should initiate projects that can earn carbon credits within our borders. By leveraging our tropical region for this purpose, each country can secure a portion of the required funds. This approach will contribute to controlling a part of global climate changes.

    The Amazon River Valley in Brazil and the surrounding vast forests must be protected. Additionally, we are discussing the significance of the Indian Ocean in this context. Thus, Sri Lanka’s approach to addressing climate changes and environmental issues extends beyond traditional practices. We must advance further, integrating these efforts into both our economic and foreign policies.”

    Last modified on Thursday, 06 June 2024 00:02

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