The adverse impact of catastrophic climate change is posing a serious threat to the planet with melting glaciers, causing global warming and sea level rise. The disruption of the eco-system is reaching an alarmingly high degree, and must be addressed by the world community. It is agreed by all concerned that carbon emissions must be kept within a tolerable level for the living beings.
It cannot be said for sure when this world will be free from the vagaries of climate change. As global warming continues, there is considerable doubt as to whether it will be possible to control climate change within the twenty-first century.
Just like how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on the world, global warming is also leading the world to devastation in the light of climate change. All scientists in the world are at the moment unanimously acknowledging that planet Earth will be wiped out if global warming is not controlled.
Global warming has been increasing steadily for the last 7 years. The final form of this warming was seen in June 2021. In Canada, one of the coldest countries in the world, the unbearable heat wave that started on June 26 disrupted public life.
The highest temperature recorded in the city of Lytton in the province of British Columbia was 49.6 degrees Celsius. Besides, the temperature in different parts of the country is fluctuating between 40 to 47 degrees Celsius.
Massive high temperatures have also recently been observed in several states in the United States. In June, the state of Oregon recorded a maximum temperature of 46.6 degrees Celsius, breaking the previous state record. Oregon recorded a maximum temperature of 41.6 degrees Celsius in 1965, the highest in the state till June this year.
A recent study by the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS), an affiliate of NASA, found that in June 2021, at least 23 countries, including Canada and the United States, had temperature increases of at least 10 degrees Celsius or higher.
The temperature was 51.6 degrees Celsius in some countries in the Middle East in June. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman were above 50 degrees Celsius at the same time. The climate of the Middle East, a desert region of Asia, is, of course, much warmer and drier. But in June-July, the temperature in most countries of the region usually does not rise above 40-43 degrees Celsius.
2020 was also the hottest year in the history of Europe. During the year, wildfires spread widely due to thin snow levels at the North Pole. Climate change was one of the main reasons for this.
The average temperature in Europe rose to a record level in 2020, 0.4 degrees Celsius higher than that in the five warmest years in the past. As a result, according to data collected since 1850,the year 2020 was the warmest year in Europe.
Bangladesh is no exception. The highest temperature was felt in June. In April this year, the maximum daytime temperature in every part of the country rose by a few degrees Celsius.
This increase in temperature was unusual in most areas. According to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, the maximum daytime temperature in April ranged from a low of 3.9 degrees Celsius to a high of 7.7 degrees Celsius.
According to a report by the International Journal of Science, Technology and Medicine, Dhaka has witnessed the highest temperature rise among major cities in Bangladesh in the last 20 years.
During this time, the temperature in Dhaka city rose 2.74 degrees Celsius. The second was Chattogram where the daytime temperature rose by 1.92 degrees Celsius, Khulna by 1.27 degrees Celsius, Sylhet by 1.10 degrees Celsius and Rajshahi by 74 degrees Celsius.
Not only in tropical and temperate countries, but also in the world's ice-covered continent Antarctica, the temperature is rising day by day. According to the US-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO), temperatures in Antarctica have risen by at least 3 degrees Celsius over the last 50 years, and in 2020 the temperature recorded on the continent's Seymour Island was 20.7 degrees Celsius. Antarctica has never seen such high temperatures before.
As a result, the effects of global warming are beginning to be felt. In 2020, there were no natural disasters, including severe cyclones, floods, eruptions, fires, and hurricanes that had not hit the world.
Today's warm world is the result of the free development activities that have been taking place for the last 200 years for the benefit of developed countries. To bring this world back to that pre-industrial age, global warming needs to be dealt with strictly so that it does not increase by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, at the Paris Climate Agreement signed in 2015, world leaders pledged to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
There have been discussions for keeping it within one and a half degrees Celsius if possible. The latest research report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an organization of climate scientists, also warns that global warming should not be allowed to rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius.
However, world leaders have not demonstrated efforts and have not lived up to their word. As a result, global warming will exceed 3 to 4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century if carbon emissions from developed and rapidly developing countries continue at the current rate.
In this situation, in order to keep the world at a tolerable and environmentally friendly temperature, all the developed and developing countries have to walk the path of green development.
In other words, development activities should be carried out by emitting low carbon. In the language of climate change this has been termed as ‘Low Carbon Development.’
The world is now considering and discussing green growth, green economy, and green development. However, in order to achieve all this, low carbon development is essential. Recently this low carbon development issue has attracted the attention of different countries and researchers.
Different countries have also started working on it, but so far it has not been possible to define it briefly. There are at least six issues involved: Low Carbon Development, Low Carbon Economy, Low Carbon Society, Low Carbon City, Low Carbon Community and Low Carbon Life.
In general, this means development by emitting less carbon, where there will be no use of fossil fuels, no activities that will destroy the environment and nature. In order to do this, development of low carbon emissions development strategies need to be determined.
That development that will be achieved if progress is done according to the strategy involving green growth. Many countries are now looking for low-carbon development roadmaps to achieve green growth; a roadmap that would reduce dependence on fossil fuel use and contribute to global climate mitigation efforts.
The Energy Sector Management Associates Program (ESMAP) implemented a five-year project in fast-growing countries in 2007 with World Bank funding to develop a guideline for low carbon development. At the end of the implementation of the project, a survey was conducted on the implementing countries.
The purpose of this study was to find out the results of adopting a low carbon development strategy. Under the project, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland and South Africa - the world's fastest growing countries, have adopted low-carbon growth strategies for their development.
Five years later, the development of these countries has seen a big change in carbon emissions. In other words, the experience of these seven countries shows that there is no specific strategy for low carbon emissions. Different strategies apply to different countries.
However, the results of this study show that there is a huge potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while keeping trade and commerce normal in order to achieve economic growth. This requires sector-wise action and the need to take initiative in demand and supply of electricity, land use, afforestation, urban development and planning, sustainable transport system etc.
For this, the countries have to take many ambitious steps. Every country needs to identify its green growth opportunities. Everyone needs to move away from the era of high carbon development to reduce climate risk. Many countries are already reaping the benefits of this step.
Bangladesh does not contribute majorly to global warming, that eventually is responsible for climate change. Bangladesh's per capita carbon emissions are only 0.3 percent, which is negligible compared to those of developed and fast developing countries.
However, Bangladesh is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. According to the latest German Watch index, Bangladesh ranks 7th among the top 10 risky countries. As a result, Bangladesh, as a high-risk country, needs to focus more on adaptation activities to adapt to climate change rather than mitigating carbon emissions.
Nevertheless, as a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement, Bangladesh needs to adapt to its potential and contribute globally to reducing carbon emissions.
All the countries of the world are now moving towards green economy. If Bangladesh does not join the procession of global green economy from the beginning, it will fall behind. Scientists in developed countries are now busy inventing technologies for the green economy. The Biden administration in the United States increased the allocation for the development of this technology
Other developed countries are also coming forward to innovate new technologies in the green economy. Using that technology can create new possibilities. As a result, if Bangladesh does not come forward to use such technology in the beginning, it will be deprived of the opportunity.
As per Network on Climate Change in Bangladesh (NCCB) project manager Muhammad Faruk Rahman, Bangladesh's existing national fuel policy plans are not conducive to low carbon. The National Energy Policy Plans need to undertake various enhancement activities with the help of low carbon.
Dependence on Fossil fuels needs to be minimised. Carbon emissions from some of our sectors have been increasing in recent times. Infrastructure, transportation and agriculture are among them. To reduce emissions, formulation of sector-based plans and ensuring implementation are imperative.
Fuel is not used economically in Bangladesh. Campaigns need to be stepped up for the success of the use of economical fuels. It is possible to reduce excessive carbon emissions by expanding the transfer of applied technology.
Bangladesh has already paved the way for green industrialization and green growth in the country through green banking. In this regard, the Central Bank of Bangladesh has also given a guideline for green banking for green industrialization. Bangladesh is now the largest lead green factory in the world.
144 leading green factories have been certified by USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council), of which 41 are platinum. BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, an association of garment factory owners in Bangladesh, has partnered with a global commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
Many other industries and infrastructures are also getting clearance for green infrastructure. In other words, the private sector in Bangladesh is moving towards green growth even with limited capacity.
The government of Bangladesh has also moved away from building coal-fired power plants like the developed countries of the world thinking of environmental protection. The government has already canceled 10 coal-based power projects in the country.
The combined generation capacity of the canceled centers was 9,346 MW. There are still 5 coal-fired power projects underway in Bangladesh. Environmentalists have also demanded the closure of these power plants.
The government is currently focusing on generating electricity from renewable energy instead of coal-fired power plants. Meanwhile, three percent of electricity from renewable energy is being added to the national grid. Bangladesh plans to increase its share of renewable energy to 40 percent by 2041.
Furthermore, 58 lakh solar home systems across the country are providing electricity services to about two crore rural people. Rooftop solar panels are also going to be a popular business model through net metering system.
However, the main problem of Bangladesh in increasing power generation from solar system is the scarcity of land. Due to this, big solar power projects are not being taken. Solar power requires less land to innovate. Bangladesh is currently the President of the Climate Vulnerable Forum. Hence, the government is trying to move away from the power generation processes that use fossil fuels.
Bangladesh is gradually moving towards the policy of zero use of fossil fuels. Therefore, the government is seriously considering the proposal to generate electricity that is not harmful to the environment instead of conventional thermal power plants. In a roadmap called Delta Plan 2100, Bangladesh has special plans like 'Carbon Budgeting', ‘Carbonless Production Path' and 'Low Carbon Industrialization'.
After all, development can never be sustainable by destroying the life-nature-environment. However, if there is proper planning and political determination, it is possible to carry out development activities keeping the environment as a priority. To build a green economy, one has to be sensitive to the environment and carry out development activities by caring for the environment.
Environmental issues must be taken into account in all development policies. Bangladesh needs to adopt a plan and move forward with its implementation, keeping in mind, the global goal of sustainable development.
Sharif Shahab Uddin is Editor-in-Chief, Bangladesh Post.