Prime Minister of Bangladesh: Climate Change 'Disastrous' for Developing Countries

Leaders from the countries on the front lines of climate change assailed the "inertia" of the world's richer nations, and warned of grave consequences ahead for their own countries, when they convened at Asia Society New York today for the launch of a new report that shows the impact global warming is already having on some of the world's most vulnerable populations.

"Every year, 4.5 million people die as a direct impact of climate change and use of carbon," alleged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, who was joined by several global leaders from the 20-nation Climate Vulnerable Forum to present statements at the introduction of the 2012 DARA Climate Vulnerability Monitor. The report utilizes findings from recent climate change studies to show the devastating environmental and economic effects that these countries are already experiencing.

Leaders present cited natural disasters, loss of land, public health crises, food shortages, and destruction of crucial industries as just a few of the problems facing their populations. According to Hasina, "The situation would become disastrous with even a meter rise of sea level," which would "inundate a fifth of Bangladesh," and displace "nearly thirty million people."

Hasina criticized the "inertia on the part of those responsible" for the dangers of climate change, while former President José María Figueres of Costa Rica argued that the issue should be seen as a global economic problem because "all nations are affected by the combined cost of climate change."

According to Hasina, this year's report "will surely generate renewed international interest and emphasize the urgency for action."

Also present were President Mohamed Waheed of the Maldives, UN Special Envoy for Climate Change and former Prime Minister of Norway Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, José Enrique Castillo, and the former Chief Advisor to the President of Ghana, Dr. Mary Chinery-Hesse.

For a complete transcript of Prime Minister Hasina's remarks, click here.

Video: highlights from the report launch (3 min., 45 sec.)

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Liz Flora is a contributor to Asia Blog. She has a master's degree in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University.