Remembering Saleemul Huq, local weather justice champion for susceptible nations

What On Earth27:34A champion of local weather justice dies on the eve of a key struggle

Tributes are pouring in from world wide for Saleemul Huq, a pioneering local weather scientist from Bangladesh who died of cardiac arrest final Saturday. He was 71. 

Huq was identified for pushing high-polluting international locations within the international north to pay for the impacts of local weather change on poorer international locations within the international south. 

He was additionally an early pressure for community-based efforts to deal with what local weather change does to essentially the most susceptible nations.

However Huq, who directed and helped discovered the Worldwide Centre for Local weather Change and Improvement in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the place he died, can also be being remembered for his composure, humility and willingness to share his experience with numerous younger scientists from the growing world.

“I nonetheless cannot think about there will likely be a COP with out him,” mentioned his buddy Harjeet Singh, head of worldwide political technique with Local weather Motion Community Worldwide, referring to the United Nations Local weather Change Convention, which can subsequent be held within the United Arab Emirates on the finish of November.

Huq, who had attended all earlier 27 COP summits, began a 20-year custom of placing a particular give attention to adapting to local weather change at every convention, initially referred to as Adaptation Days, mentioned Kristie Ebi, a College of Washington local weather and well being scientist who additionally referred to as Huq a buddy. 

He first did it in 2002 by bringing a rural Bangladeshi farmer to the high-level negotiations to simply discuss her experiences.

That is now blossomed right into a multi-day occasion that focuses on adaptation, mentioned one other buddy, former U.S. Environmental Safety Company official Joel Smith.

At more moderen COPs, Huq would arrange a workstation in a public space — resembling a cafeteria — relatively than in a non-public room, Singh instructed What on Earth host Laura Lynch.

Huq, left, and Harjeet Singh, proper, at COP 27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in 2022, the place nations agreed to ascertain a loss and harm fund. (Saleemul Huq/X)

“All people could be coming to him,” he mentioned. “That is how open and accessible he was. The [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] would have cherished to supply him an workplace. However no, he would discover it at a public place someplace, and say, ‘That is my workplace.'”

Loss and harm fund

Huq spent years calling for a loss and harm program for growing nations hit arduous by local weather change, paid for by richer nations that largely created the issue with their emissions. 

United Nations local weather negotiators final 12 months accepted the creation of that fund, however efforts to get it going additional have to date stalled as a result of international locations have been at odds over who pays, who’s eligible for funding, and who would oversee the fund. 

Authorities representatives gathered in Abu Dhabi for a two-day assembly this weekend, for a final ditch try to bridge the divide.

Singh, who was on the emergency assembly, mentioned it’s essential for international locations to determine the right way to implement the fund earlier than COP 28 kicks off.

If there isn’t a consensus earlier than the summit begins, Singh mentioned he worries this system will likely be “traded towards different points” underneath negotiation at COP.

“You can’t discuss a loss and harm fund as a bargaining chip,” he mentioned. “We’ve got to seal the deal right here in Abu Dhabi in order that we then finalize it in Dubai.”

Singh, who labored with Huq for 20 years, mentioned he pledges to redouble his efforts to champion the loss and harm fund in his buddy’s reminiscence. 

Huq printed a whole bunch of scientific and standard articles and was named as one of many high 10 scientists on the planet by the scientific journal Nature in 2022.

That 12 months, Queen Elizabeth II additionally bestowed the Order of the British Empire on him.

He was additionally a senior affiliate and program founder on the Worldwide Institute for Setting and Improvement in London and taught at universities in England and Bangladesh. 

Huq is survived by his spouse, son and daughter.

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