Rising seas a ‘death sentence’ for some nations

Act together to avoid catastrophic events

Published : 16 Feb 2023 08:00 PM

While addressing the Security Council’s first-ever meeting on the threat to international peace and security from rising sea levels, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that global sea levels have risen faster since 1900 and their relentless increase puts countries like Bangladesh, China, India and the Netherlands at risk and acutely endangers nearly 900 million people living in low-lying coastal areas.

The Earth is more likely on a path to warming that amounts to “a death sentence” for countries vulnerable to that rise, including many small island nations, according to national and international media reports. In addition to threatened countries, mega-cities on every continent will face serious effects, including Cairo, Lagos, Maputo, Bangkok, Dhaka, Jakarta, Mumbai, Shanghai, Copenhagen, London, Los Angeles, New York, Buenos Aires and Santiago.

The World Meteorological Organisation released data Tuesday spelling out the grave danger of rising seas. Global average sea levels have risen faster since 1900 than over any preceding century in the last 3,000 years. The global ocean has warmed faster over the past century than at any time in the past 11,000 years.

The world is hurtling past the 1.5-degree warming limit that a livable future requires, and with present policies, is careening towards 2.8 degrees — a death sentence for vulnerable countries. Therefore, the consequences are unthinkable.

We still believe that we can

 avoid the worst impacts if 

the world leaders act together 


Low-lying communities and entire countries could disappear, the world would witness a mass exodus of entire populations on a biblical scale, and competition would become ever fiercer for fresh water, land and other resources.

Bangladesh is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world, but its contribution to global warming is negligible. It contributes less than half of one per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

The average sea level rise along the coast of Bangladesh has been 3.8-to-5.8 millimetres a year over the last 30 years, according to a recent study, and that continues. A one-degree rise in average world temperature would increase sea levels by about a meter, which would flood a fifth of Bangladesh. If that happens, 30 million people in Bangladesh would be forced to flee their homes. The rich countries responsible for global warming are not keeping their promise to help developing nations deal with its consequences though financial assistance. In 2009, the developed countries most responsible for global warming pledged to provide $100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing nations deal with its consequences.

The commitment has still not been met, generating mistrust and reluctance among some developing nations to accelerate their emissions reductions. We still believe that we can avoid the worst impacts if the world leaders act together immediately. As the planet is heading toward irreversible ‘climate chaos’ the global leaders will have to put the world back on track to cut emissions and keep promises on climate financing.