Though Bangladesh emits less than 0.35 percent of global greenhouse gas, which is mainly responsible for global warming resulting in rising sea levels, it is one of the most affected and extremely vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change.
Due to a combination of factors including global warming, Bangladesh ranked among the top ten most affected countries in the world. The factors include its nature of a low-lying and flat coastal plain that makes the country more susceptible to cyclones and flooding from major rivers.
The geographical location of Bangladesh is also another important factor. Because the country receives fairly direct radiation throughout the year and maintains relatively high temperature as it's located on the Tropic of Cancer. The density of population and lack of resources are also two more significant players in this case.
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, global warming and local high temperature have put one-third of its population at risk of displacement. Over the last decade, about 700,000 Bangladeshis were displaced on average each year by natural disasters. The World Bank said that the number of displaced people in Bangladesh could reach 13.3 million by 2050.
Bangladesh incurred losses linked to the impacts of climate change estimated annually to average 1.8 percent of GDP between 1990 and 2008. Rising sea levels and coastal erosion could lead to a loss of 17 percent of land surface and 30 percent of food production by 2050 according to experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of the United Nations.
However, Bangladesh has undertaken many anticipatory and timely measures for adaptation and mitigation of the impacts of climate change. Top of all, the country has made the protection and improvement of the environment and biodiversity one of the fundamental principles of state policy. In doing so, Bangladesh inserted Article 18A in its constitution by the Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Act, 2011. The government also renamed the Ministry of Environment and Forest as the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in 2018.
With the adoption of various initiatives, Bangladesh has been a role model in climate change adaptation for the rest of the world. But the South Asian country has still a long way ahead to go in the coming days in this regard. Bangladesh will have to take more measures to get rid of the negative impacts of global warming as it dreams of becoming a developed nation by 2041. Because poverty eradication is enormously correlated to development and fighting climate change is a must for shaking off poverty.
Against the backdrop, President of China Xi Jinping has delivered an important keynote speech online at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate at the invitation of his US counterpart President Joe Biden. The speech has widely been welcomed and admired by global leaders and concerned experts from across the world as a pragmatic and timely guideline of stepping up international cooperation on climate change.
I think the speech is a proper outline of deepening the bilateral cooperation between Bangladesh and China on climate change as well. Because, the Chinese president, in his speech, said, “We must be committed to multilateralism and need to uphold the UN-centered international system, comply with the objectives and principles laid out in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement, and strive to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
President Xi also emphasized the need for taking stronger actions, strengthening partnerships and cooperation, learning from each other, and making common progress in the new journey toward global carbon neutrality.
In this process, he said, every country must join hands, not point fingers at each other, maintain continuity, not reverse course easily, and honor commitments, not go back on promises. China looks forward to working with the international community to jointly advance global environmental governance.
The aforesaid statements of the Chinese president have expressed the readiness of China to forge ahead wider cooperation with Bangladesh on climate change—under both international and bilateral frameworks. I think it is high time for both the countries to come forward to taking necessary steps to further step up multifaceted cooperation in this sector.
Bangladesh can greatly benefit from China on climate change. The East Asian nation has long experience of simultaneously mitigating adverse impacts of climate change and achieving tremendous development. It has introduced the concept of the ‘Ecological Civilization.
The concept has brought about improvements in pollution reduction, low-carbon emission, rural vitalization, science, technology, innovation, and green development in China. It has defined new relationships between people and nature that permits living well within the eco-environmental bounds of the planet.
The ecological civilization was written into the Chinese constitution in 2018. It is a unique version of sustainable development with Chinese characteristics. It is a combination of the three core dimensions of the concept of sustainable development – the environmental, economic, and social dimensions.
I firmly believe that as an important member of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Bangladesh has many lessons in the first-hand experiences China has learned from its ecological civilization.
Finally, Bangladesh can also benefit from Chinese modern technologies, adequate resources, and investments to make its vibrant infrastructure sector environment-friendly, which will finally help the country to ensure sustainable development mitigating adverse impacts of climate change.
- Md Enamul Hassan is a news editor and broadcast journalist at China Media Group (CMG) in Beijing, China.