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Off-setting effects of climate change: Muntasir Murshed

Published in New Nation on Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Climate change simply refers to the amendment of traditional inclinations in weather conditions, both locally and globally, that have taken place following human activities in particular. Climate change can result in the form of either fluctuations in average weather conditions or through time variation in weather, or both. For instance, winter in Bangladesh seems to have been delayed with time as it almost takes early January to experience winter in the country, which was not the case before. Moreover, the severity of winter seems to have gone down as well, judging from the fact that we no longer have to cover ourselves in heavy winter attires to combat the temperature drops during winter in Bangladesh. This has rather been a global scenario whereby climate change is also referred to as ‘Global Warming.’ It is scientifically proven that human interventions have been the root cause of global changes in climate through emission of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2). Thus, tackling carbon emissions has been enlisted as one of the prime agendas worldwide and it has also been recognized in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda of the United Nations.

However, mitigating greenhouse gaseous emission can only aid to reduce the aggravation of climate changes but, simultaneously, policies and steps should also be undertaken to cope with both short and long term atrocities of climate change as well. It is of utmost relevance for Bangladesh because the country, due to its geographic location, is extremely vulnerable to such severities of global climate changes. The current government is ready to leave no stones unturned in combating with the ongoing climate changes and is also looking forward to achieving the SDGs ensuring environmental and climate sustainability, mainly through carbon emission reductions. It is believed that infrastructure development is central to minimizing and coping with the climate change phenomenon. Thus, a holistic approach has to be adopted to develop the existing infrastructure required in mitigating and adapting to these changes.

One of the many ways of deferring further climate changes could be through a transition in use of energy resources in the country. In line with the global best practices, Bangladesh should ideally and gradually increase the share of renewable environment-friendly energy use in its total energy use consumption. For instance, following the acute natural gas shortage and high import bill burdens arising from oil imports, Bangladesh can look towards use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for electricity generation purposes which would not only enhance its electricity supply but would also reduce carbon emission to an extent. Basically, the country should aim in developing energy-efficient cities and in the process curb the carbon emission attributing to climate changes. In addition, the government can also incentivize its citizens to plant more trees and also motivate setting up of green office buildings.

Moreover, as a part of its SDG commitments, Bangladesh has to make its cities and metropolitans more adaptable to climate change and instantaneously be more resilient natural calamities linked to climate changes by 2020. However, achieving these sub goals is a strenuous task for the government which calls for possible private sector collaboration as well. As part of the strategy to face the climate change challenges, climate change measures need to be incorporated into the national policies aimed at natural disaster management. In addition, actions plans have to be designed to integrate low-carbon, climate-resilient, disaster risk reduction strategies as well.
An indirect approach to tackle climate change would via awareness building, knowledge enhancing and improving institutional capacity. One of the possible ways to do so could be through possible inclusion of manuals for climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning techniques into the national curriculum, at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Simultaneously, the government can also look forward to increasing its revenue allocations necessary for decreasing the causes and effects of climate change especially focusing on women, youth and marginalized communities across the country.

Furthermore, steps have to be taken to significantly reduce the number of casualties affected via climate change in the country by putting more attention to air and water qualities and also on municipal and other waste management. A possible means in doing so could be reducing the percentage of urban residents residing in slums. This I because compared to the other urban dwellers, the residents in the slums are more susceptible to climate change actions whereby the concept of sustainable cities are put to the sword.

The global concerns regarding the persistently aggravating nature of climate changes has recently raised eyebrows all over the globe. It is high time to take effective measures not only to control the factors attributing to climate changes but also design appropriate policies linked to climate change adaptation. In order for Bangladesh to match its remarkable performance in achieving the Millennium Development Goals ahead of many of its neighbors, it should also attempt to tackle climate change adversities in order to leapfrog into the list of countries that have managed to attain the SDGs in due time.

Muntasir Murshed, Programme Associate, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)

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