US Envoy Kerry Discusses Climate Challenges In Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) -- John Kerry, the special U.S. envoy on climate, said Friday that President Joe Biden was keen to work with Bangladesh in dealing with climate change impacts after the United States' return to the Paris accord.

Kerry arrived in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, to hear what the South Asia delta nation has done to cope with weather extremes and rising sea levels ahead of a virtual summit on climate change that Biden is hosting this month.

"No one country can solve the problems of climate crisis," he told reporters, after visiting other vulnerable countries including the United Arab Emirates and India. He said that Biden had returned the U.S. to the Paris agreement on climate change after Donald Trump pulled out in 2017.

Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen, who appeared with Kerry, took the opportunity to ask for U.S. help in repatriating about 1.1 million Myanmar Rohingya refugees from crowded camps in the border district of Cox's Bazar, saying they were destroying vast areas of forests and ecology.

"We hope that (the) U.S.'s proactive initiative can help them for a safe and dignified return, back to their country for a decent living," he said.

The refugees are victims of persecution in Myanmar, which is now military ruled since the Feb. 1 coup toppled the civilian government, and most say it's unsafe to return.

Momen said earlier that Bangladesh believes that adaptation to climate change is not enough and it needs support as promised by others. "It should be Kerry's special target," he was quoted as saying by the United News of Bangladesh news agency.

He said the countries that are mostly responsible for contributing greenhouse gases should also share responsibility of rehabilitating and protecting the people vulnerable to climate change impacts.

In the UAE, the government says the impact of warmer weather, less rain, droughts, higher seas and more storms is taking its toll on infrastructure, human health and natural habitat. Kerry heard of similar challenges in talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Thursday, the State Department said.

Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million people, shares the same predicament.

Some expert warn that rising sea levels could devour much of its vast coastal region, and cyclones and tidal surge destroy agriculture and livelihood for millions. The world's largest mangrove forest, Sundarbans, which straddles the border of Bangladesh and India, is especially vulnerable and its famous Bengal tigers at risk.

The State Department said that Kerry and Modi focused on mobilizing finance to support clean energy deployment, cooperation on innovation and scaling up emerging technologies such as for energy storage, green hydrogen, clean industrial processes and sustainable urbanization and agriculture.

Biden has invited 40 world leaders for the April 22-23 summit, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.