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Bangladesh paying the price despite not being responsible

Muhammad Ismail Jobiullah
01 Dec 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 30 Nov 2022 22:34:13
Bangladesh paying the price despite not being responsible

Bangladesh is ranked seventh in the Global Climate Risk Index’s list of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in 2021. The irony is that low lying deltaic country accounts for only 0.56 per cent of global carbon emissions.

With this negligible amount of carbon emissions, Bangladesh has almost no impact on global climate change; rather, the country has become the victim of the developed industrialised nations’ increasingly negative impact on global climate change.

Conversely, the giant economies of the world are the major contributors to climate change. According to relevant data this year’s global carbon footprint, the five major countries, including the United States, Russia, India, China, and Japan, are responsible for 55 per cent of global carbon emissions.

China alone is responsible for 30 per cent of global carbon emissions. And there is no sign of slow-down regarding its race towards the goal of becoming more industrialised, as it only focuses on expanding its market, defying the green activists’ urge to limit carbon emissions.

Moreover, the highly developed as well as fast developing countries are literally shrugging off the global call to reduce carbon emissions. And countries like Bangladesh are bearing the brunt of this attitude.

The aggressive nature of the world’s industrialised countries to become wealthier at any cost is the root cause of climate change and its deleterious impacts. And the poorer countries of the world are paying the price for their lackadaisical attitudes and extreme levels of recklessness. Bangladesh is one of the worst sufferers of their mindless game.

International conferences are regularly held and they invariably end with verbose speeches and false promises. The pledges to limit the global average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius have been the rallying cry of the conferences, but there has been no sign of implementation.

The recent COP27 conference in Egypt made the overall situation more complex. The introduction of the loss and damage fund has intensified the political instability as EU nations point out that China must pay for the fund because it has been regarded as the biggest polluter.

China’s rejection of the proposal has made matters worse, and the funding issue has become increasingly contentious, which ultimately will worsen the fate of climate-vulnerable countries. All the situations can be summed up by saying that countries like Bangladesh are going to suffer more and more.

Woes of Bangladesh

Bangladesh’s unique geographical location, with the Himalayas to the north, a massive delta basin, and the world’s largest bay, the Bay of Bengal, to the south, is already a good reason for floods, cyclones, and sea level rise. But climate change is adding salt to the wounds and increasing suffering in the region.

Climate change has exacerbated disasters and, in some cases, disrupted Bangladesh’s usual seasonal pattern, with a long monsoon with erratic rainfall and a shorter winter with extreme cold waves. Every year, the country is hit by devastating cyclones, which cause severe damage to lives and livelihoods in the country’s southern districts. And due to climate change, the cyclones are landing with greater intensity and frequency on the coastal districts of the country, which endangers the lives and livelihoods of the hapless people.

The impact of super cyclone Sitarang on the country’s economy is still fresh. It has severely affected the agricultural production of 13 coastal districts. The cyclone struck the country at a time when the country’s economy was struggling due to the depreciation of its currency against the dollar and the never-ending Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Moreover, almost 700 rivers flowing into the land have made the floods a regular visitor to the country. And as the monsoon has changed its pattern by prolonging its presence due to climate change, the total scenario has brought unprecedented suffering to the people residing beside the river banks. Thousands of people are dislocated every year as the rivers engulf their shelters.

Furthermore, climate change has accelerated glacier melt in the world’s highest mountain range, the Himalaya, which is one of the causes of sea level rise.

With the sea level rising, there is a prediction that 15 to 30 million people will be the victims of climate-induced migration. This is not the only reason that forces people to become climate refugees; increasingly powerful cyclones are another driving force behind the increasing amount of the climate influx.

But the vulnerable countries like Bangladesh are paying the price for the indifferent and, in some cases, arrogant attitudes of the big names. Bangladesh has tasted the bitter taste of climate change, from rising sea levels to unexpected rainfall accompanied by floods.

Between 2000 and 2019, Bangladesh witnessed about 185 extreme climate events that cost Tk 3.72 billion, which is close to the amount of money Bangladesh is going to borrow from the IMF.

All natural disasters are directly or indirectly the outcome of climate change. And all those things combined are forcing millions of people to leave their homes and shelters.

However, the problems have been exacerbated as millions of people flock to the already overcrowded capital, Dhaka. These climate refugees join the 2,000 people who make their way to the capital every day in search of a livelihood.

According to the World Bank, at least 19 million people will be climate-induced migrants by 2050.

These are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of Bangladesh’s plight as a result of climate change, which is primarily driven by the world’s wealthy nations.

Currently, the country’s economy is going through one of the most challenging times with the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict, depreciation of the local currency against the dollar, and the forex reserve crisis. Here, the climate issue has been considered as adding salt to the injuries.


The writer is a journalist.

He can be contacted at [email protected]