The Climate Change Conference and Bangladesh: BEN

The 18th Conference under the UN Framework for Climate Change (UNFCC) will be held in Doha, Qatar, during November 26 to December 7, 2012. Also, the signatory countries of the Kyoto Green House Gas Reduction Protocol will hold their 8th conference. The role of this UN Conference in promoting international collaboration for reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emission and in arresting or slowing down the drastic effects of climate change is very significant.
With time, the debilitating effects of climate change are becoming more evident.  One of the main effects of climate change is increased frequency of natural disasters and extreme weather events across the world.   After the recent super storm Sandy, many politicians in the US now recognize the linkage between the super storm and climate change.

It is disappointing that the international community as a whole is yet to make adequate progress in combating climate change or adapting to it.  Even though the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is about to expire at the end of 2012, the GHG reduction goal set by this Protocol is yet to be met. Also, no agreement about a second commitment has yet been reached.

The United States, along with several other developed nations, are insisting on imposition of GHG reduction target on China and other rapidly developing nations. The latter countries are however resisting this effort noting that their per capita GHG emissions are still much less than those of developed nations and their share of GHG emissions has begun to rise only recently, unlike that of developed countries who have been emitting high volumes of GHG for more than two hundred years since industrialization begun, causing the problem of climate change. Because of this dispute between some developed and large!
developing nations, small and Most Vulnerable Countries (MVC) continue to suffer the imminent danger of the effects of climate change.

In this backdrop, Bangladesh and other MVC’s will need to carefully evaluate their positions and assert their rights in the upcoming UN climate change conference. On the one hand, MVC’s must voice their need for financial and technical assistance from developed nations to take steps to adapt with immediate effects of climate change. On the other hand, they should refrain from siding with developed countries in pressuring emerging developing countries to take on unreasonable GHG reduction targets, while encouraging the latter countries to take on voluntary GHG emission reduction targets.

Lastly, Bangladesh and MVC’s must assert on the right of climate refugees to migrate and get resettled in safer areas of the world. Many low-lying areas of Bangladesh will get submerged as a result of sea level rise caused by climate change. This will render many people to lose their homes, lands, and sustenance.  The responsibility and cost of rehabilitating these climate refugees must be borne by the international community, since Bangladesh and MVC’s are not responsible for climate change.

To play the necessary and rightful role in the upcoming UN climate Change Conference in Doha, Bangladesh must carefully consider issues at hand, collect all relevant data and information, and above all, select a strong delegation comprising of experts who are passionate about the welfare of the country. BEN hopes that the delegation members will not misuse the opportunity to travel to Doha for sightseeing, shopping, and other personal purposes at the expense of effective participation in the conference proceedings.

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and BEN held a special conference on climate change in 2009 and adopted a detailed resolution offering recommendations about Bangladesh’s both domestic and international tasks. BEN hopes that Bangladesh government and members of Bangladesh delegation to Doha conference will make good use of this resolution and the volume containing papers and proceedings of the BAPA-BEN conference to prepare for the Doha Conference.

In the run up to Doha Conference, civil society and pro-environment organizations in Bangladesh are organizing discussion events and seminars. BAPA, in cooperation with other such organizations, convened one such important seminar on November 12, in which the country’s environment minister, Dr. Hassan Mahmud, was in attendance as the chief guest. (Click to read a news report on this seminar)

BEN hopes that discussions held in this seminar will play an important role to inform the policy makers and prepare them better to participate effectively in the Doha Conference.