As the world celebrated Earth day two days ago, and Sri Lanka joining 130 nations to sign the Paris agreement to stop climate change, the Centre for Environmental Justice/Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka (CEJ/FoE) questioned the Sri Lankan government’s rationality in signing the international agreement while promoting coal power, which bears grave repercussions to the country’s environment.
“Pushing ahead with the Sampur Coal Power plant is completely incompatible with trying to stop climate change. We demand a stop to promoting coal power in Sri Lanka. We demand the Sri Lankan government do its fair share to fight the climate crisis, in line with equity and historical responsibility, and not allow Chinese and Indian polluting Industries to establish in Sri Lanka in the name of foreign investment,” Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director, CEJ/FoE Sri Lanka said.
The organisation further emphasised that the world cannot count on the Paris agreement to stop climate change. On April 22, representatives of over 130 nations attended the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Sri Lanka’s Minister of Science, Technology and Research Susil Premajayantha signed the agreement on behalf of the Sri Lankan government.
However, the Centre for Environmental Justice/Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka along with Friends of the Earth International strongly denounced the deal as a weak agreement which failed to deliver the scale of action needed to prevent dangerous climate change.
“Scientists are now telling us that we have entered ‘decade zero’. Decisions taken in the next 10 years – investments in dirty mega infrastructure, exploitation of new fossil fuel sources, mobilisation and distribution of public finance, the scale of emissions reductions that are undertaken – will determine if we breach the 1.5°C guardrail or not,” said Dipti Bhatnagar, Climate Justice and Energy Coordinator for Friends of the Earth International.
“This in turn will determine the scale of impacts on our planet and its people,” she added
She noted that neither the Paris Agreement nor its formal signing this week will safeguard our planet from the ravages of the climate catastrophe.
According to her, In December, it was noted that even though the Agreement mentions the pursuit of ‘efforts to limit increase to 1.5 degrees,’ whilst acknowledging the risks of a 2°C goal, it totally lacks the conviction that is urgently needed to meet the 2°C goal, let alone 1.5°C goal. In fact, current pledges put forward by countries add up to warming of around 3 degrees, and possibly higher – clearly incompatible with a habitable planet.
The organisations emphasized that the need of the hour was not the agreement, but a just, global energy transformation, including stopping of dirty energy projects, improving energy efficiency, tackling energy access issues and moving to community-owned renewable energy.
“We need the age of fossil fuels to come to an end, within the next short decades. We need finance from developed to developing countries to help them move away from dirty energy, and we need countries to cut emissions at source, and not hide behind carbon markets and other false solutions,” the organisations said.
The organisations noted that Sri Lanka has the potential to generate clean energy running up to 20,000 MW in wind power, 4.5 to 6 KWh/m2/day solar power and over 30,000 MW of tidal power.
“Simply singing the Paris Agreement without any substance on implementation and ambition is irresponsibly insufficient. We cannot count on such an Agreement alone to achieve climate justice,” the organisations added.