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11 December, 2019 00:00 00 AM


Is COP 25 reducing global temperature?

The symptoms of climate change are quite visible in Bangladesh
Shishir Reza
Is COP 25 reducing global temperature?

Calculating the economics of climate change is challenging due to the fact that there are huge uncertainties in the estimation of both the costs and benefits related to climate. The precision of the time horizon, over which benefits and costs of climate change would accrue, is debatable. Also, there are uncertainties over thresholds for climate change impacts and the pace and form of technological innovation that can take shape in the future. Furthermore, the effects of climate change are not uniform across countries. Different parts of the world are likely to be affected differently: countries closer to North and South poles will experience warmer temperatures and once inhospitable land will experience melting of ice. Small island nations are at risk of extinction due to rising sea levels. Low-lying islands and countries are at a greater risk of flooding both from rising sea levels and increased precipitation. Countries near the equator are likely to experience unbearable heat. Some of the countries are already experiencing more frequent events of severe weather.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released its annual report on “emissions gap” referring to “commitment gap” on November 26 this year. The UNEP also warns that the world will fail to get on track towards 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature goal of the Paris Agreement, unless the emissions of global greenhouse gas fall by 7.6 per cent in each year between 2020 and 2030. The report shows that despite the pledges by several countries, the amount of greenhouse gases is increasing at an alarming rate, where it urges for deeper and faster cuts of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. It should be noted that the global temperature is already 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer and has been warned to rise by 3.4 to 3.9 degrees Celsius in this century if current trends persist, and that may result in wide-ranging and destructive climate impacts, including extreme weather, droughts and storms across the globe.

By 2050, low-lying areas in some South and Southeast Asian cities not far from the coast are likely to face inundation during high tide as part of the flood zone. Bangladeshi climate experts have denoted that 100km away from the coastal zones, the districts of Pirojpur and Shariatpur might be badly affected as there are no embankments there.

These debacles that are staring us in the face have raised several questions as to how the concerned countries are expected to respond to the evolving disastrous situation, and how basic human rights of the affected people need to be safeguarded while tackling and managing this growing emergency. Efforts to promote environmental sustainability can only be effective if they occur in the context of conductive legal frameworks, and by the exercise of certain human rights, such as the rights to information, public participation in decision-making, and access to justice.

Bangladesh's ranking in the index was decided based on these data, the think-tank said. The data showed that the losses were equivalent to 0.41 per cent of the country's gross domestic product. There is no denying that Bangladesh is one of the most affected countries in the world on account of climate change in the past two decades, says the German think-tank report. In 2016, Bangladesh stood 13th among other countries in the world -- counting a total of 222 fatalities for climate change and incurred losses over US$1,100 billion. Honduras bottomed the list of most affected countries of the past 20 years, followed by Haiti, Myanmar, Nicaragua and the Philippines.

The Global Climate Risk Index has placed Bangladesh at the seventh position among countries most vulnerable to climate change in its annual report for 2020. According to the German think tank, Bangladesh lost 577 lives during the last 21 years since 1999, suffered economic losses to the tune of US$1.7 billion in purchasing power parity and witnessed 151 extreme weather events during the period from 1999 to 2018.

The symptoms of climate change are quite visible in Bangladesh. Delicate specialties of six seasons are lost and the routine of natural events changed. A typical flower of one season is blooming in another. Cold waves and hot waves have now been regular features. Death toll by lightning strikes is on the increase. The salinity from sea is creeping into the mainland. The country had to bear the harsh blow of cyclone Sidr in 2007, haor flooding in 2017 and frequent inland tornadoes. Thus people bear the brunt of climate change for no fault of theirs.

Bangladesh is aware of the danger of climate change. The Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund has been created to implement climate-related projects with its own funds. As a vulnerable country, Bangladesh has the right to receive funds from the Global Climate Fund of the United Nations for adaptation measures and for the protection of infrastructure. But the availability of such funds is uncertain and irregular.

As society’s total disposable time — social wealth — expands, so too does the ability of all members of society to increasingly participate in running, planning and solving its problems, including finding solutions to the more intractable environmental or technological problems. Lifelong theoretical and practical education, made possible by this expanding disposable time, Marx states, will “convert science from an instrument of class rule into a popular force.” Only public ownership, popular democracy and planning, and a new definition of wealth based not on individual personal enrichment and consumption can possibly meet the dispute. It would not be too extreme to declare that humanity in the next 50 years faces a stark choice: capitalism or socialism and human survival. Bangladesh has been well aware of this problem for over a decade and has developed the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) which has been implemented for nearly a decade and is now being revised to take it to 2030. Once the revised version is adopted it should become integrated into the 8th Five Year Plan as soon as possible.

The writer is s an

environmental analyst



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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