Sujeeva Nivunhella reporting from London
Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that centuries after discovering nitrogen in Scotland, Sri Lanka was in a process of rediscovering nitrogen and writing history.
Addressing a side event of COP26 summit “Rediscovering Nitrogen Solutions and synergies for Climate Change, Health, Biodiversity and Circular Economy” at the Merchants House, Glasgow the Minister said Daniel Rutherford discovered nitrogen in 1772 and James Hutton established the world’s first nitrogen manufacturing plant in Scotland.
“Nitrogen is called the godfather of environment pollution and a silent killer that threatens life on Earth hence President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, with courage and constant willpower, is leading the Colombo Declaration on Sustainable Nitrogen Management” he said.
“Climate change discourse has been carbon centric for decades. The role of nitrogen pollution had been invisible. In the historic Paris Agreement and in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. We talk about net zero of GHG emissions. However, we have forgotten that nature’s carbon and nitrogen cycles overlap. We are afraid to accept that levels of atmospheric nitrous oxide and particulate matter are on the rise. As we rediscover nitrogen ahead of COP 26, the challenge for us is to make invisible nitrogen visible in climate change discourse”, he said.
Addressing another side event “SLYCAN Trust” meeting Minister Amaraweera said “Sri Lanka is a country which is highly vulnerable to climate change and many of our economic sectors are impacted by losses and damages which are induced by climate change. I believe for countries to build their resilience to face climate and disaster risks, it is very important that countries that are vulnerable to climate change, especially their people who face adverse effects are capacity built to face climate risks, as well as disaster risks which are aggravated by the changes due to climate change.”
He said that Sri Lanka has already established climate and disaster risk finance options which have been in existence for decades. For example, Sri Lanka has one of the oldest crop insurance schemes in the world, which focuses on addressing floods, droughts and other natural disasters. The funding allocation for this scheme is through the national budget which as a developing country is a tremendous contribution focused on ensuring that the country and its people are resilient to face climate risks and disasters.
He said by saying that “with the increase of climate impacts the need to scale up existing mechanisms is high. Therefore it is important that support for finance and technology, as well as technical capacity is enhanced for the country to address the needs of those vulnerable to climate change. This also includes the engagement of all stakeholders in efforts to scale up actions to address climate and disaster risks through improved systems and solutions, through collective, inclusive and participatory processes, which will benefit those who are at the forefront of climate impacts.”