According to a dispatch from Marrakech, Morocco, President Sirleaf made the remarks on Tuesday, November 15, in Marrakech, Morocco when she addressed the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 22), the 12th Conference of the Parties Serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12) and the 1st Conference of The Parties Serving As The Meeting of The Parties to The Paris Agreement (CMA 1).
The Liberian leader said: “If nothing is done to mitigate the negative impact and its vulnerability, the gains made by mankind could be seriously undermined if not reversed.”
Liberia, she said, continues to experience severe impacts of climate change due to erratic rainfall, flooding and sea erosion.
She told the gathering that more than 70% of Liberia’s population relies on agriculture for subsistence livelihood while the sector also contributes almost 39% to the country’s GDP.
Recent predictions, she noted, indicate that the sector will be heavily impacted thus posing a risk to the economy and livelihood of the population.
President Sirleaf said coastal erosion represents a significant threat to Liberia’s shoreline, with serious risks to coastal cities, displacement of populations and loss of major economic assets.
“Despite these challenges, we have made progress in combating climate change at the national level as manifested through Liberia’s draft Climate Change Policy, which intends to strengthen national institutions, communities and initiatives that have a strong capacity for adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk reduction,” she indicated.
On the mitigation front, she said: “We have set aside almost 20% of our national forest as protected area. This serves as a hub for carbon sequestration and protection of our biodiversity which includes threatened and endangered species.”
She expressed Liberia’s commitment through its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to increase the share of renewable energy through hydro-electricity and solar power.
There is still a need to do more, to address Goals One and Two of the SDGs, she observed.
On the regional level, she said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has established a Climate Change Unit within the Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources Department to oversee the implementation of a robust Climate Change Action Program, which aims at reducing vulnerability and ensuring adaptation to climate change in the sub-region.
The ECOWAS Authority Chairperson said study shows that large parts of West Africa will be seriously affected by the negative impact of climate change with a strong variability of rainfall, the disappearance of animal and tree species and the recurrence of calamities such as flood, storms and drought.
President Sirleaf stressed that the key priority of the sub-region is the strengthening of capacities to mobilize the much needed resources to implement Member States commitment in the NDCs.
She said it was pleasing to note that one year after the signing of the Paris Agreement, 11 of the 15 countries in ECOWAS have ratified the Agreement; Liberia being the 12th.
President Sirleaf observed that pledges made so far under the Paris Agreement are insufficient to achieve targets for reducing global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius.
“We therefore call for speedy actions to implement the Paris Agreement to address global environmental challenges, to support developing countries in the formulation and implementation of national adaptation plans, the development of gender action plans in the agriculture sector and the acquisition of climate change technology,” she added.
The Liberian leader called on delegates to go forward from Marrakesh with renewed determination and collective will to harmonize approaches to implement the Paris Agreement in order to respond to the challenges of climate change and make the world a better place for current and future generations.
Earlier, President Sirleaf thanked, His Majesty Mohammed VI and the people of the Kingdom of Morocco for hosting the first historic UN Climate Conference after the coming into force of the Paris Agreement, especially the warm reception and courtesies accorded the Liberian delegation.
She also congratulated the President of UN Climate Change on his election as President of COP 22 and expressed confidence and optimism in his leadership
that the outcomes of Marrakech will provide a comprehensive plan of action for implementation of the Paris Agreement.
She also thanked the outgoing President of COP 21 under whose stewardship the Paris Agreement was consummated and acknowledged the pivotal role of the UN Secretary General, BAN Ki-moon in steering the world towards the adoption of the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement.