Interview on Climate Change by Ajoy Kar

Interview on Climate Change by Ajoy Kar

Interview with Lt Gen Masud Uddin Chowdhury

Interview with Saleem Ul Huq

Sound files are courtesy of Bangla Radio Canberra from the program of 18th January, 2010 produced by Ajoy Kar. The full program is available at

RADIO INTERVIEW ON CLIMATE CHANGE: with Lt Gen Masud Uddin Chowdhury (text format)
18 January 2010

Question: 1
Tell us something about the “Climate Refugee” in Bangladesh context
His Excellency:
Thank you and my best wishes to the listeners. You know, Bangladesh is among the countries severely affected by climate change and the impacts of climate

change to Bangladesh are monumental.
A one metre sea level rise will inundate 1/3rd of the country. The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) ranked Bangladesh as the most

vulnerable country to floods, third most to tsunami and sixth most to cyclones in terms of human exposure. These all will result in mass migration imposing

increasing pressure on land and resource, and loss of livelihood of about 40 million people.
According to scientific estimates, by 2050, some 20 million people in Bangladesh will have to be relocated due to the adverse impact of climate change.
(We are also struggling with the effects of climate change in the form of river bank erosion, land slide, soil degradation, deforestation, and salinity intrusion in the coastal areas. At present, Bangladesh is experiencing erratic patterns of flooding and droughts. These have also become a threat to ensuring food security through sustained agricultural production. Cyclones hit the coastal region regularly, causing tragic loss of lives and immense material damage. An alarming phenomenon is salinity intrusion in the coastal areas, threatening the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest-a habitat of rich biodiversity, and an UNESCO World Heritage site.)

Question: 2
We do know the mobility and migration are key responses to environmental pressures – What policy the government has in place to support and

accommodate mobility in Bangladesh?
His Excellency:
Bangladesh government is obliged to provide support to people to remain in their habitation and homes. Moving to supposedly safer areas, already burdened with thick population, would add miseries to all, and cause sociological disorders. Bangladesh government has decided, therefore, to undertake a massive project of dredging all rivers under the National Climate Change Strategy and National Plan of Action, which aim at sustainable green development and adapting to climate change. Capital dredging would keep rivers on natural course, deepen them to hold more water, restrict flooding, reduce flood damages, reclaim inundated land on either side of rivers, and keep them navigable for movement of people and goods. Maintenance dredging would then ensure sustained regulated water flow of the rivers.
(The land reclaimed could be used for agriculture, homes, and even agro-based industrial belts. The silt of the rivers would be used for embankments, and if necessary, raising the height to deal with the rise of water level in the rivers and the sea. On and near the embankments would be created flat elevated ground for habitation of displaced people with the recovered silt. Green belts on the embankments would strengthen them from the caprice of water flow and erosion. Dykes and concrete support would need to be built for checking and controlling water movement at required points all over southern Bangladesh, particularly on the coastal areas. Clearly, such an ambitious plan would be possible, only with technological and financial support of resourceful, developed countries. I would, therefore, urge them to come forward to assist Bangladesh in adapting to climate change.)

Question 3: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her speech released in Dhaka on 20 December 2009 stated that ‘an agreement has been agreed upon taking in most of all our concerns; there are some areas that would be finalised in the coming days’—
What are those areas that are yet to be finalised?

His Excellency: Bangladesh’s expectations from the Copenhagen COP-15 were (as follows):
Ø Provisions for assured, adequate, predictable and easily accessible funding mechanism for adaptation
Ø Transfer of green technology to developing countries, particularly to the LDCs, at an affordable cost
Ø Specific binding commitment for deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emission by developed countries with legal obligations
Ø Adoption of a new legal regime under UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Protocol to ensure overall rehabilitation of climate refugees
If you go through the “Copenhagen accord”, you will find areas which still need to be finalised, such as:
– Lack of legally binding commitment by the developed world to mobilize resources and technology to mitigate the impacts of climate change and to adapt to it
– Lack of legally binding commitment by the industrialized nations on deep emission cuts.
– Lack of Commitment regarding climate refugees
It is true that we could not achieve a legally binding treaty in Copenhagen 2009 but we could able to reach a consensus for the “Copenhagen Accord” to start tackling climate change and it will step up work toward a legally binding treaty in the next UN Climate Conference to be held in Mexico City this year.

Question 4
‘…Copenhagen accord requires developing countries to list what actions they will take to cut global pollutions by specific amounts..’
Does Bangladesh require to making such a list, even we know Bangladesh’s share in the cumulative GHG emissions since the industrial revolution is almost

‘ZERO’ percent? If yes, what are those actions?
His Excellency:
With regard to mitigation actions by developing countries it is mentioned in the Copenhagen accord that “Least developed countries and Small Island developing States may undertake actions voluntarily and on the basis of support”.
Though the mitigation action plan is voluntary for least developed countries like Bangladesh, our government has adopted, at the national level, a National

Climate Change Strategy and a National Plan of Action aiming at ensuring sustainable and green development, and adaptation to climate change. The National Climate Change Strategy is built on six pillars, and one of the pillars is our plan for mitigation and low carbon development to evolve low carbon development options and implement those as the country’s economy grows over the coming decades and the demand for energy increases. In accordance with that Bangladesh is preparing a strategic energy plan following a low carbon path to development; social forestry; greenbelts for large carbon sink; clean coal technology; nuclear power; and renewable energy. Moreover, we have plans to bring 20% of land under the afforestation programme by 2015, and will implement social forestry projects to protect biodiversity and reduce poverty.

Question: 5
Does Bangladesh after Copenhagen summit reach any agreement with India and China-two of the largest emitters to provide support to Bangladesh in

Capacity Building?
His Excellency:
The challenge to Bangladesh of facing natural disasters from global warming, and climate change is monumental. Bangladesh, due to its geographical location, has faced natural disasters and, therefore, invested over US$ 10 billion since its independence on flood management schemes, coastal polders, cyclone and flood shelters, and elevation of roads and highways above flood level. Recently, our government has established a Climate Change Fund, with its own resources, to expand community based disaster preparedness, and adaptation programs. Bangladesh has also developed crops varieties attuned to climate change; initiated program to cover 20% of land with forests by 2015; adopted projects on protecting biodiversity and poverty reduction; strengthened existing coastal green belt; built 14,000 multi-purpose cyclone shelters, with more on the way. These are undoubtedly daunting tasks for Bangladesh and can only beaddressed through enhanced and effective international cooperation.
Regional and international cooperation is essential in order to build necessary capacity of the government. As we all know that we are in the midst of negotiating a new global climate regime, which should be embedded in the core principles of responsibility sharing. Therefore Bangladesh would welcome any kind of support from the world community including India and China in capacity building of Bangladesh. But to my knowledge after the Copenhagen Conference Bangladesh has not yet reached any bilateral agreements with India and China which would ensure their support to Bangladesh in Capacity Building.

Question: 6
Does Bangladesh receive bilateral commitment from Australia to provide support to Bangladesh in combating global warming?
His Excellency:
Bangladesh has been a significant recipient of Australian development assistance since the early 1970s. Poverty alleviation through sustainable economic and social development growth is the objective of Australia’s aid program in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, Australia’s aid program focuses principally on improving primary education, and maternal and child health, and supporting the eradication of extreme poverty. The aid program is implemented through partner organisations, including UNICEF, BRAC (the largest NGO in the country) and ICDDRB ( the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research Bangladesh).

Australia provided an estimated A$52.5 million in total aid to Bangladesh in 2008-09 and it will provide an estimated A$61.25 million in 2009-10.
Ongoing initiatives will continue to focus on assistance to the ultra poor; support for education and health, particularly child and maternal health; and on scholarships programs. Therefore, at present Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Bangladesh does not include assistance for combating global warming. The Government of Bangladesh has created an Environment Fund for the mitigation and adaptation of climate change where Australia could provide fund. Australia is also the leading country in developed world that has taken the issue of climate change seriously and taken various measures in that direction. So, we can expect that in future Australia might provide assistance for combating global warming in Bangladesh.

Question 7:
How could we Bangladeshi living in Australia assist Bangladesh in combating global warming?
His Excellency:
We must remind ourselves that climate change as a result of global warming is real, here and now. The consequences of global warming would impact all of us – developed and developing – in one way or another. We must therefore, address the challenges together in a holistic manner with the support of the international community.
Bangladeshi living in Australia or elsewhere might contribute in many ways to assist Bangladesh combating global warming, such as:
Ø Supporting communities and people in rural areas to strengthen their resilience and adapt to climate change,
Ø Contribute to the community-based adaptation programmes, which will be established in each of the disaster prone parts of the country under National

Action Plan,
Ø Contribute to build the capacity of the government to undertake international and regional negotiations on climate change by providing valuable researches and knowledge,
Ø They can highlights vulnerability of Bangladesh in different international fora,
Ø Above all, as a member of Bangladesh community they can express their moral support to build the resilience of their loved ones in Bangladesh. Again as Australian, they can also contribute to influence the policy of the Australian government regarding climate change.

Best wishes and warm regards

High Commissioner for Bangladesh
Canberra, Australia

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