Goal 13: Climate Action

Remembering Saleemul Huq, Climate Voice Of The Global South

Professor Saleemul Huq dedicated his life to fighting the climate emergency and was a driving force for climate justice

By Jessica Jurkschat
2 November 2023

Professor Saleemul Huq was a driving force for climate justice. He dedicated his life to fighting the climate emergency and committed his early academic training in botany towards understanding climate change and its consequences alongside promoting policies and actions to prevent and reduce the climate crisis. 

Saleemul was a champion and leading voice in favour of adaptation even before COP was first initiated in 1995. He was one of the few people to have attended all 27 COP meetings in person. 

He also established the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, a leading think-tank, and later the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University Bangladesh, two organisations that have helped thousands of scientists and environmental leaders develop their personal capacities and commit themselves to “making the world a better place”.

“One of the clearest things the scientific evidence shows about the impacts of climate change – the injustice of it. It affects poor people more than rich people, but it’s caused by rich people’s emissions.” - Saleemul Huq

In addition, he was one of the lead authors of chapters in the third, fourth and fifth assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and was awarded the IPCC Nobel Prize in 2007. 

Saleemul was a constant voice for climate action and justice for the Global South. He used his expertise to show the link between climate change mitigation, adaptation and sustainable development, particularly from the perspective of vulnerable developing countries. 

He continually pushed for “loss and damage” measures, whereby nations that emit the bulk of greenhouse gasses take financial responsibility for addressing the needs of lower-emitting nations who bear the brunt of the climate crisis. Although a loss and damage fund was finally achieved at last year’s COP, it requires strong advocates to ensure that it is fairly and effectively executed.  

The world lost a champion in climate justice in Saleemul Huq’s passing. There is no doubt that his presence and leadership will be deeply missed during COP28, which starts on November 30.

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