The International Climate Conference (COP-26) is over. Now it is the turn of expectation and reckoning. Expectations were higher than receipts. But it is everyone’s expectation that what the world has decided will be implemented properly and promises will be kept. At this COP-26 conference, the heads of state and government of the world agreed to accelerate the process of climate financing with a concession of $100 billion annually in line with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, 141 countries, including Bangladesh, pledged to play an effective role in preventing deforestation by 2030.
However, according to the Paris Agreement, this promise was supposed to be fulfilled by 2020, but now it has been extended to 2023. Hope the promises will be kept by that time. But it remains to be seen as to what stage will the global catastrophe go to. And that too if it will be settled in 2022 and 2023 in Egypt and UAE as the next climate conferences COP-27 and COP-28 will be held there.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, 196 countries agreed to limit global temperatures to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial era. Already that temperature has risen by 1.1 degrees. Due to this, various disasters including floods, tidal surges, cyclones and fires have increased worldwide. According to climate scientists, half of the world’s population will be at risk of climate change by 2030, which has now risen to 43 per cent. The current damage to climate change resources will double in 2030.
At the COP-26 summit, the United Nations feared that temperatures could reach 2.8 degrees Celsius, even if several countries talk of reducing carbon emissions. The IPCC has also issued a warning about this temperature rise. They say rising temperatures mean rising costs to protect people from harmful effects. By 2050, that cost could be as high as $1 trillion a year. And if the temperature rises by 2 degrees Celsius, it is estimated that billions of dollars will be spent every year in Africa alone.
At the conference, the United States and China jointly announced that they would work together to protect the environment. A number of agreements have been signed at the conference, including the declaration of preventing deforestation by 2030 and the declaration of carbon neutrality of different countries by 2050. The new draft agreement calls on world leaders to take urgent action to tackle climate change. The plan calls for countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster than ever before.
The new draft agreement calls on rich countries to increase funding to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and to help weaker countries cope with the climate crisis. Rich countries are urged to cooperate more with poor countries in tackling the climate crisis. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius at the climate conference has now moved to “life support”. According to the new draft agreement, carbon emissions must be reduced by 45 per cent by 2030 in order to achieve that goal of limiting rising temperatures. And by 2050 emissions will have to be brought to zero per cent.
The rich countries have not made any clear commitment to tackle climate change. Many claim that there is no roadmap for the $100 billion pledged to the affected countries to address climate change. Even if some promises are met, rich countries do not keep all their promises. The Paris Agreement of 2015 is proof of that. Many of the richest industrialised nations do not comply with the 1992 UN Climate Charter. The conference also failed to address how carbon emissions can be kept at 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Although Bangladesh is affected, it is playing a significant role in countering the effects of climate. In its continuation, at the COP-26 conference, Bangladesh has outlined a number of practical steps, including climate compensation, to reduce global warming. Among them are: Bangladesh cancels construction of 10 coal-fired power plants at $12 billion with foreign investment, calls on world leaders to pledge $100 billion annually to tackle climate damage. And to implement them, rich nations are urged to meet their previous commitments of $100 billion annual contribution towards climate adaptation and mitigation half-way (50:50). Displaced migrants are also asked to take responsibility.
Bangladesh’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan is a role model for the world in tackling the risks of climate change. The government is implementing the action plan with its own funds and has undertaken 69 projects at a cost of $443 million from the Climate Change Trust Fund. The World Bank and development partners could come forward to help increase the use of solar panels in agriculture.
The use of solar panels has increased in the country and abroad as a climate-friendly, cost-effective and environmentally friendly fuel instead of diesel-powered pumps for agricultural irrigation. Diesel-powered sprinklers emit large amounts of carbon. By 2041, 40 per cent of Bangladesh’s energy is expected to come from renewable sources. On the one hand using solar powered or solar irrigation pumps instead of diesel will reduce carbon emissions to protect the environment, on the other hand it will save huge amounts of foreign exchange and save a lot of money that farmers spend on diesel. The economic use of solar irrigation will be ensured as it will be usable for 20 years continuously.
Referring to Bangladesh’s proposal to set up a “South-South Knowledge and Innovation Center” in 2019, the Prime Minister said, “It will serve as a platform for creating technological solutions to the development challenges in the South” The government of Bangladesh is working on the development of climate change tolerant crop varieties on a priority basis to address the adverse effects of climate change on agriculture.
At present a national adaptation plan has been prepared in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is implementing the ‘Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan’ to move the country from a climate-endangered country to a climate-tolerant and prosperous climate. This is a positive aspect that is a role model for the outside world.
The writer is an Agricultural Economist, Former Consultant of FAO & UNDP, and Senior Scientist, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI)