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Battle against climate change: Lanka needs a statesman

16 January 2018 12:29 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Though the political focus now is on the February 10 elections to local councils the national unity or consensus government needs to concentrate on vital issues such as global warming with latest reports indicating that solar energy could provide the world’s entire fuel requirements for one year instead of depending on the polluting fossil or coal fuels.   

The Cable News Network (CNN) in its January 16 programme titled eco-solutions, quoted scientists as saying the pure and renewable solar energy, available to all, should be utilised much more, so that within two decades or so it will be our main source of power. 

In Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena on January 8 completed the third year of his election to the highest office in the country with one of his pledges being a full scale battle against climate change. But in recent months the President has found himself in an awkward position with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party split down the middle as the battle intensified to 341 municipal, urban councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas. The President has also pledged that he would not seek a second term in office in contrast to former president Mahinda Rajapaksa who was ousted when he sought a third term. President Sirisena, apparently under pressure from his party front liners, is now saying it is up to the SLFP Central Committee to decide whether Sri Lanka should continue with the Executive Presidency and whether he should contest for a second term.   

 Analysts point out that the President needs to remember that the SLFP Central Committee members severely opposed him at the January 8, 2015 presidential election and fully supported Mahinda Rajapaksa even at the August 2015 parliamentary elections.   

This has raised questions whether President Sirisena who was once hailed as a statesman is now becoming a politician. There is the well-known saying that a statesman works for the next generation while a politician works mainly for the next election. What is the choice that President Sirisena will make? Tragically if he chooses to act in the manner that politicians do he may have become a victim of the political disease where power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. President Sirisena has regularly pointed out that he is the world’s only President who has willingly and voluntarily clipped his powers as he did through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Analysts hope he maintains that reputation by giving priority not to the next election but essentially next generation issues such as the battle against poverty, global warming and the campaign for a ban on nuclear weapons. Last Saturday Hawaii experienced the horror of what could happen through nuclear weapons when a false warning about a ballistic missile heading to Hawaii sent hundreds of thousands of people into a state of shock with some even saying their final prayers.   

On the global warming issue President Sirisena who is in charge of environmental affairs needs to give priority and work on the latest discoveries relating to eco-solutions and clean renewable energy. 

CNN reported that despite President Donald Trump still insisting that climate change is a Chinese hoax Americans are paying a huge price for global warming. The federal government’s National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported recently that the three powerful Atlantic hurricanes of 2017 -- Harvey, Irma and Maria -- cost Americans US$265 billion, and massive Western forest fires another US$18 billion. Scientists have shown that human-induced climate change has greatly increased the frequency and intensity of such disasters   


In contrast New York City recently showed bold leadership with decisive action for climate safety and justice. New York has decided to go green and electric by mid-century through electric vehicles, electricity-powered public transport, and electric heat pumps for buildings, powered by electricity from wind, solar and hydroelectric power.   

We hope Sri Lanka also will launch similar projects for climate justice and work with nature rather than against nature.     

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