COP21 and Its Consequences for Bangladesh
Md. Shafaat Ullah
Continuing from the last two decades, the 21st Conference of the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” widely known as COP, was held in Paris, from 30 November to 11 December 2015. Since 1995, this conference is held every year in a different country with participation of 196 parties to evaluate execution of the convention and negotiate on new issues.
To serve the interest of dominant delinquents, some issues have been maneuvered in the Paris deal. Non state actors i.e. NGOs, business group and Western developed countries delegates are claiming it as a “Historic Achievement” (Beinhocker., Allen, “The Net-Zero Imperative”, Project Syndicate, December 14, 2015 https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/net-zero-emissions ), even though there is no binding law to abide by the signing states. Moreover, there is a scope to withdraw themselves from the deal. To reduce the emission of carbon dioxide, states will fix the boundary according to self interest and its countdown will start from 22 April 2016 to 21 April 2017. Environmental scientists and scholars are assuming, if states will act in pursuance of the deal, the global temperature will increase to 2 to 3 degree Celsius (Muhammad, Anu,“Paris to Ruppur Rampal”, Daily Prothom Alo, December 23, 2015).
Under-developed and developing countries strongly demand that they do not emit enough carbon dioxide and claim to emit that portion for the sake of development or industrialization. Bangladesh is one of the leading countries in the developing world that will be greatly affected by the climate change as well as sea level rising. Unfortunately, the country is unable to protect itself due to lack of resources (Newell, 2005,”Environment”, Burnell, “Politics In the Developing World”, Oxford University Press, UK, Chapter 17). And on top of that it already faces a good number of natural disasters every year.
On the subject of climate change and environmental negotiation, Bangladesh government only pays attention on getting fund, provided by the developed countries. Besides, with huge amount of loan and removing national budget, government is building such development projects which will cost more than what the climate change will occur..
In a joint venture project,‘Bangladesh Power Development Board’ and ‘National Thermal Power Corporation of India’ have been working together to build a 1320 MW ‘Coal Fired Power Plant’ in Rampal, inside Sundarbans (Muhammad, Anu “Rampal power plant: A project of deception and mass destruction”, bdnews24.com, September 19, 2013, http://opinion.bdnews24.com/2013/09/19/rampal-power-plant). It is noteworthy that the Sundarbans is unique for its biodiversity and wildlife resources. Sundarbans protect millions of people by its natural safeguard and provide livelihood to them, something that cannot be done by foreign funds. It needs consciousness only.
In another project, by taking a loan of $113.85 million from Russia, our government has signed a deal with two Russian companies to build a 2400 MW ‘Nuclear Power Plant’ in Rooppur, pabna district, under Russia’s supervision and by using Russian technology. The location is somewhat 200 km away from north Dhaka. The loan will be repaid in 28 years with a 10-year grace period (World Nuclear Association, “Nuclear Power in Bangladesh”, October 29, 2015, http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/Bangladesh/).
Experts suggest, for such a big nuke power plant to be built, about 15 million people of the surroundings should be evacuated or displaced for safety; or else they will fall into the risky zone. Government’s inadvertence and nonchalance is proving the type of threat Bangladesh is under.
Several development projects are running through deforestation and the occupation of river and agricultural land and the state’s organizations are in leading position there. State has planned to make some Special Economic Zones but the process is not disclosed to public. Bangladesh is giving priority on ‘Growth Enhancing Governance’ (Khan,H.Mustak, “Political Settlements and the Governance of Growth-Enhancing Institutions”. SOAS Research Online, January 20, 2011, http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/9968/ ) for development where GDP is the only scale of measurement and capital accumulation is the main target. In a bid to develop, the country is destroying its environmental resources roughly and massive number people will suffer as a result.
Although Bangladesh has won the “Champion of the Earth” award for environmental leadership and has made a progress towards “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDG), it still remains a matter of concern as to how long this development will last. No development can be sustainable by avoiding the environment.
Writer is a student of B.S.S (7th Semester), International Relations, University of Dhaka.