Climate Change and Bangladesh - Barrister Harun ur Rashid
Climate change, in fact, is an injustice to people of Bangladesh. Bangladesh contributes very meager to the carbon emission but they're the worst victims of the climate change. Per capita emission of carbon in Bangladesh is only 0.25% while India’s is about 2%, the US 20.4%, Canada 20%.and Australia’s 25.9%.,
The main objective of all climate change discussions in regional and international forums including Cancun UN Conference in last December is to put a stop• to carbon emission under a mandatory regime• to extend the time-period of the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 after 2012• to raise adequate funds for climate change adaptation and mitigation • to establish climate justice tribunal for the victims of climate change.
Hopefully these topics will again be considered at the UN Conference in Durban (South Africa) in December this year.
For Bangladesh, two important points were agreed upon in the Cancun deal—(a) Green Climate Fund and (b) An adaptation committee to combat effects of Climate Change.Cancun has delivered the momentum. A lot of work needs to be done to make sure the agreements achieved in Cancun were built on in the Durban Conference in addition to arriving at a consensus on a host of other related issues. Due to its geographic location, high population density and extreme pressure on natural resources through development, Bangladesh is most vulnerable to climate change. They range from long standing environmental degradation to modern environmental hazards and natural disasters.
The primary environmental problems in Bangladesh are water supply, land degradation, air pollution, and loss biodiversity. It is reported that the total emission is likely to increase 70 million metric tones by 2015 in Bangladesh and 150 MT by 2030.
Bangladesh’s 55 to 60% food production depends on energy, and due to agriculture intensive economy the energy demand for agriculture is on the rise. In this area Bangladesh cannot afford to compromise in the interest of food security of people.World Vision Chief Economist, Brett Parris reportedly said that “climate poverty” in Bangladesh is on the rise and stated: “ the convergence of poverty and climate change will be catastrophic for Bangladesh.One of the adverse impacts of the Climate Change is the disappearance of low-lying coastal lands and islands. That will lead to thousands of environmental refugees and in other words they will be displaced and many of them will have to migrate to other countries.
It is noted that the new President Mohammad “Anni” Nasheed has proposed to buy lands in India, Sri Lanka and even in Australia for his displaced people, in the event of some of the islands of the Maldives go under water due to rise of sea level
A report on human migration or environmental refugees has been released in 2010 and the report is styled as “In Search of Shelter” prepared by NGOs, CARE International, Columbia University and the UN. The report states “ The impacts of Climate Change are already causing migration and displacement and the prospect for the scope and scale could vastly exceed anything that has occurred before.”
The purpose of the report is to provide an overview of what might occur across the world due to changes in environment. The human-induced climate change leading to mass migration has generated a good deal of academic scrutiny and the stakes—political, financial, humanitarian and security-- are high.
The report assumes that the worst impact will fall on poor nations, where adaptation resources are scarce and where larger numbers of people live off the land or by the whims of the weather or both.
Large populations in Asia rely on shrinking Himalayan glaciers—“the Water Tower of Asia”- to feed rivers and provide water. Should the shrinking continue, millions down river residents will be forced to move to dry lands.
The number of migrants or environmental refugees could rise to one billion people by 2050 according to International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Christian Aid of Britain
In early June of 2010, delegates from 182 countries gathered in Bonn to debate the report on environmental refugees and they felt that the report was the “tip of the iceberg.”
A recent report of UK Department for International Development (DFID) of 2007 presents a bleak picture of Bangladesh by 2030.
The Report predicts that the population will be nearly 200 million by 2020, with 40% under the age of 15 years of age. An additional 6-8% of Bangladesh will be permanently under water and flood-prone areas will increase (from 25% to 40% by 2050).
If the sea level rises to one metre, much of the coastal areas in Bangladesh will disappear and about 33 million of people will be homeless and destitute. According to a recent report of Climate experts 17% of Bangladesh’s territory would likely to be submerged under water.
Environmental refugees from rural areas will be flocking to the cities. Dhaka will be one of the megacities with 30 million people.
On 21st April, 2009, a BBC report quoting U.K.-based charity Oxfam says that the number of people hit by climate-related disasters (such as floods, tornadoes and droughts) is expected to rise by about 50%, to reach 375m a year by 2015.
Action to combat environmental degradations in Bangladesh:
On 10th June, 2009 the Prime Minister told parliament the country would be able to pool the resources it would need to tackle the impact of global warning.
The international community should take cognizance of the fact that Bangladesh has on its own taken initiatives to start coping with climate change. It has set up a $ 200 million fund out of its limited resources to work to that end. For the future of Bangladesh, it is necessary that every person and agencies incorporates the impact of climate change into their thinking and operations and commits to taking action on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The energy sector of Bangladesh which represents highest 31% of the country’s total annual emission of around 50 million MT has immense potentiality of mitigation actions replacing obsolete plants and clean coal technology development.
Bangladesh can reduce its total emission up to 14 to 15 MT% through immediate response with funding support from international community.
Bangladesh has prepared its own Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and the government with its own financial ability has already initiated various voluntary mechanism to promote renewable energy.
The government in Bangladesh presently has a 134-point programme to enhance the country's coping strengths against climate change. A massive project has been undertaken for preservation of the bio-diversity of the ‘Sunderbans’ with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank. Coastal afforestation program is being strengthened. A program has been chalked out to conserve 10% per cent of the forest area of the country as reserve forests, national parks and natural conservatories by the year 2015.
That is why it becomes more obligatory on the part of the developed and rich countries to come forward and boost this national fund of Bangladesh with their financial and other forms of support. Presently, this country simply does not have the resources or will even acquire them in the near future, to take on effectively massive works as barriers against the sea.
Therefore, it should look forward to readying suitable plans to make itself the beneficiary of adequate funds and supports from the international climate fund and embark, before time runs out, on completing projects that would be designed mainly to keep the sea at bay.
A Multi-Donor Trust Fund was formed to cope with the climate change. Although the development partners of Bangladesh has promised US$ 100 million fund to help the country face the climate change impacts, Bangladesh will need several billion dollars (at least $2 billion per year) to successfully tackle the issues of environmental degradation.
Bangladesh has a population of 160 million people, this dwarf the member states of the Association of Small Island States as a whole, Grenada for example has a population of 90,000 and it is not the smallest. The sheer number of Bangladeshis means that they should come first when creating an adaptation fund.
As State Minister of Environment and Forest Hasan Mahmud put it "The population of our one coastal district is bigger than the entire population of all island countries and in that consideration at least 15 percent of any climate fund should come to us.”
Human Rights groups in Bangladesh have urgently stressed on the transparent and effective use of climate trust fund for ensuring availability of fund from the donors in the future and not be accused of suspected misuse. . They called upon the government to form separate autonomous board under the Ministry of Environment and Forests to manage the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund.523