Warsaw Conference on Global Climate Change Bangladesh

Warsaw Conference on Global Climate Change  Bangladesh

The 19th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), otherwise known as Conference of Parties ( COP) has commenced from November 11 to 22 in Warsaw (Poland).

The Warsaw conference comes at a critical time for international action on climate change, with the science clearer than ever that the world will have to cut emissions or face catastrophic consequences as found by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

It may be recalled at the 17th Durban Session of the UN Conference it was agreed in principle a roadmap towards an accord that for the first time would bring all major emitters of greenhouse gases (US, China, India, Brazil, Australia & Canada) under a single legal roof by 2015 to be operational from 2020 and will become the prime weapon in the fight against climate change.

That means besides the Warsaw Conference, by next two sessions—one in Lima (Peru) in 2014 and the other in 2015 at the Paris session- the global regime needs to be approved.

The task is huge because each nation is focused on economic growth and especially the developing countries are to reduce poverty. No country is willing to cut down the use of fossil fuel (coal, gas and oil). One of the great polluter-countries Australia is not sending even a Minister to the conference because the conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott is one of the skeptics of climate change due to man-made activities, like his mentor former Prime Minister John Howard. Furthermore the oil-exporting countries are reluctant to see their exports (revenue from oil) drop.

Another issue at Warsaw is the Climate Global Fund. At the Durban UN Conference, a “Green Climate Fund” was proposed to help channel up to $100 billion a year in aid to poor, vulnerable countries by 2020 but how wealthy nations would raise the money has not yet settled.

It is doubtful whether in Warsaw fund would be committed by the industrialised countries when their economy has slowed down considerably because of Euro zone debt crisis.

Why the global regime on reduction of greenhouse gases?

As the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found in the recently published first volume of its Fifth Assessment Report, in Stockholm in September atmospheric concentrations of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide have now reached levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.

The fifth assessment report said warming of the climate system was “unequivocal” and there was now a 95 per cent probability that humans were contributing to climate change, up from 90 per cent in the 2007 report.

The IPCC report conceded the so-called “pause” in average surface temperatures over the past 15 years, but said it was not significant. “Due to natural variability, trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends,” the report said.

Unlike the previous report in 2007, which forecast a range of temperature increases from 0.3C to 6.4C by 2100, the fifth report said that the most optimistic of four scenarios for warming forecasts an average temperature rise of 1C by 2100 over 2000 levels, ranging from 0.3C to 1.7C

India & China’s position:

As a first step, India has suggested that the working group should take up review of adequacy of the commitments made by the developed world and ensure that they cut emissions to keep the global temperature rise below two degree Celsius by turn of the century. India has made it clear that they were opposed to the developing countries having to cut emissions.

India makes it clear the actions and commitments of parties in the post 2020 period must be differentiated on the basis of equity in terms of historical responsibilities and the fundamental imperatives of social and economic development and poverty eradication.

The question is how to break the link between economic growth and resource-exploitation. In other words, what we need is to blend economic growth with environmental sustainability. In simple words economic growth that does not cost the Earth is the challenge for climate experts.

On the other hand, the battle against global warming has received a transformational boost after China, the world’s biggest producer of carbon dioxide, proposed to set a cap on its greenhouse gas emissions for the first time.

Under the proposal China, which is responsible for a quarter of the world’s carbon emissions, would put a ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions from 2016, in a bid to curb what most scientists agree is the main cause of climate change.

It marks a dramatic change in China’s approach to climate change that experts say will make countries around the world more likely to agree to stringent cuts to their carbon emissions in a co-ordinated effort to tackle global warming.

Why is Bangladesh vulnerable?

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 are poverty, huge population, water supply, land degradation, air pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

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.

The energy sector of Bangladesh which represents highest 31% of the country’s total annual emission of around 50 million MT can be reduced its total emission up to 14 to 15 MT by replacing obsolete plants and clean coal technology development.

Indiscriminate use of organo-chlorine pesticides and other toxic agricultural chemicals for decades has destroyed the aquatic ecosystems and the flood plain fishery.

Over exploitation of inland and marine fish stock combined with other ecological factors have caused 90% per cent decline in inland capture fishery and 40% per cent decline in marine capture fishery.

Poverty leads to recourse of activities that pollute the environment, for example domestic fuel in the countryside comes from forests. Unhygienic living conditions in slums of cities and of countryside people lead to pollution of air, soil and water.

World Vision Chief Economist, Brett Parris reportedly said that “climate poverty” in Bangladesh is on the rise and stated: “We are seeing a convergence of climate change and poverty that is reducing the ability of poor communities to grow crops, access water and house and feed themselves.”

A 2007 report of UK Department for International Development (DFID) 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 under water by that time.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) recently stated that small farmers in developing countries including Bangladesh are the most vulnerable to climate change and their voice is not adequately represented in the conference,

Actions by Bangladesh:

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.

At the upcoming 19th session in Warsaw, Bangladesh will demand compensation to rehabilitate people displaced due to climate change in stated Environment and Forests Minister Hasan Mahmud on 8th November. Addressing a press conference, the Minister said Bangladesh would also seek a change to the United Nations definition of “refugee” so as to incorporate the displaced persons due to climate change.

The government has reportedly developed a Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan as a response to an immediate need to address the impacts of climate change. The Strategy and Action Plan is built on six pillars of which five are related to impact management and one is related to mitigation through low carbon development.


The government has created the Climate Change Trust Fund in which the government has already allocated $300 million to it since 2009 ($100 million per fiscal year), out of which 66% is available for government-sponsored projects and 34% is reserved as fixed deposit to address emergency.

Another two funds have been created by the assistance of donor-countries and multilateral financial institutions– Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund and Fund for Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience.

From all the three funds $535 million are available to combat climate change in Bangladesh. However, Bangladesh will need at least $2 billion per year to successfully tackle the issues of environmental degradation.

Industrialized countries are the greatest polluters and therefore are morally and legally obligated to pay compensation to the climate vulnerable countries. Developed countries grew rich at the expense of the planet and the future all people by exploiting cheap coal and oil. They must pay for the resulting loss and damages to the top vulnerable country, such as Bangladesh.

Concluding remarks:

Michel Jarraoud, the secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organisation pulled no punches when he recently spoke about the “devastating consequences” for humanity and the planet if the growth in greenhouse gas emissions is not curbed soon.

Finally, Bangladesh has become a model in handling typhoons and tidal waves through its innovative methods. Bangladesh people are resilient to any adversity. To quote, National Geographic magazine “ One commodity that Bangladesh has in profusion is human resilience. Before this century is over, the world rather than pitying Bangladesh, may wind up learning from her example.” I am confident that with dedicated efforts of all people, Bangladesh can meet the challenge.

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