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Bangladesh's Economy to pay high prices due to climate change

Rayhan Ahmed Tapader

Rayhan Ahmed Tapader

Sat, 29 Jun 24

In recent times, the most widely discussed and important topic globally is climate change. It can be said that this is the biggest challenge of the 21st century. As climate change increasingly has adverse effects on biodiversity, it has become a matter of concern for us. Extensive research is also being conducted on this issue. Climate naturally undergoes some changes due to natural causes. However, the extent to which temperatures are now rising is primarily due to human activities. Since humans started burning oil, gas, and coal to operate factories and vehicles or to heat homes in winter, the Earth's temperature has increased by 1.2 degrees Celsius compared to that time. The amount of carbon dioxide, one of the primary greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, has increased by 50 percent compared to the 19th century. In the last two decades, it has increased by 12 percent. Deforestation also contributes to the rise in greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, as trees absorb carbon. As a result, when trees are cut down or burned, the stored carbon is released into the atmosphere. To live healthily in any region, a healthy and clean environment is essential. The impact of the environment on our overall lives is immense.

With the increase in global population, environmental degradation has become a widely discussed issue in recent times. The impacts of climate change, air pollution, noise pollution, floods, disasters, deforestation, and river erosion are causing environmental crises in various regions across the world. In recent times, extensive economic activities have increased in the country to meet the various needs and demands of people. Primarily due to high population density and extensive economic activities, various types of pressure on natural resources are increasing. As a result, there is a growing concern about environmental disasters across the country. Activities such as deforestation, soil extraction, hill cutting, excessive groundwater extraction through deep tube wells, and over-irrigation are leading the country's environment towards disaster. How effectively the allocated funds in this year's budget will be utilized to mitigate this disaster remains to be seen.

However, due to its geographical location, topography, and certain natural and human-induced factors, Bangladesh is among the most climate-vulnerable and endangered countries in the world. In recent times, the country's weather has been rapidly changing from its normal patterns, and the temperature is rising due to excessive carbon emissions from industrialized countries. Comparing the temperatures from 1850 to 1900 with the present, it is evident that the Earth's average temperature has increased by 1.3 degrees Celsius. On April 23, 2024, the World Meteorological Organization stated in a report titled "State of the Climate in Asia" that Asian countries are warming faster than the global average. The report highlighted that in 2023 alone, Asia's temperature increased by nearly 2 degrees Celsius compared to the average temperature from 1961 to 1990. In this adverse situation, normal life is being disrupted as people struggle to adapt.

The increase in regular cyclones, floods, recent heatwaves, lightning, and droughts is intensifying environmental threats. To mitigate these threats and to protect biodiversity, safeguard nature, and manage disasters, adequate funding is essential. For overall environmental improvement, substantial financial allocation is needed through long-term planning that integrates multiple sectors. This is because various environmental elements, such as air, water, soil, and the biosphere, are interconnected. When one component of the environment is affected, its impact is felt on the other components as well. In the budget presentation for the fiscal year 2024-25, several budgetary allocations and proposed budgets have been detailed, many of which are directly related to environmental protection. Although this year's budget prioritizes "Smart Bangladesh" for social security and risk management, specific provisions have been given special priority for ensuring the security of vulnerable groups.

Apart from that, among the 14 budgetary allocations based plans, agriculture, food security, fisheries and wildlife, local government and rural development, social security and poverty alleviation, climate change and environmental conservation, water resource management, disaster management, and housing and urbanization accounts are directly linked to environmental protection in Bangladesh. In the budget presentation, it was emphasized that despite addressing food security, efforts to strengthen the economy are continuing amidst climate change impacts and global crises. Ensuring food security for all remains a primary responsibility of the government. In the Eighth Five-Year Plan, it has been targeted to enhance government capacity for food conservation to 3.7 million metric tons by 2025. In this context, the management of events such as cyclones, rainfall patterns, floods, heatwaves, etc., will heavily influence food security and sustainable development. A crucial element of the environment is pollution-free water. Adequate supply of safe drinking water and sustainable economic development largely depend on environmental quality. In addition to the agricultural development focused on riverine landscapes, the sustainable management of fisheries in the country has been emphasized through the enactment of several key regulations: the Marine Fisheries Act 2020, Marine Fisheries Capture Policy 2022, and Marine Fisheries Regulations 2023. Alongside agricultural advancement in riverine countries, ensuring proper and sustainable management of water resources is crucial for environmental conservation. The government of Bangladesh is actively implementing various projects aimed at efficient and sustainable management of the country's water resources. Projects include wildlife control, river embankment, dredging, irrigation systems, waterlogging mitigation, and land rehabilitation, among others. These initiatives are part of Bangladesh's commitment to creating a livable and sustainable world for future generations through skilled and meticulous development.

In 2009, the current government of Bangladesh adopted a climate change policy framework to address climate change impacts effectively. This initiative has been crucial for the country and is managed through the Climate Change Trust Fund, financed by domestic resources. From the fiscal year 2009-10 to 2023-24, a total of 969 projects have been allocated 3,969 crore taka for implementation, aiming to mitigate the effects of climate change on the nation. In this country, the frequency of climate change-induced disasters such as floods, cyclones, droughts, and heatwaves has been increasing. Therefore, allocating additional funds in the budget to combat climate change impacts could potentially aid in mitigating losses and property damage caused by these disasters.
Bangladesh has made significant strides in reducing fatalities and damages from disasters through effective disaster management practices, although floods, cyclones, and other disasters annually challenge the country's development journey.

Recently, about 37 lakh 58 thousand people of the coastal area were affected by the effect of cyclone 'Remal'. Apart from the death of 18 people, about 35 thousand houses were completely destroyed in this cyclone. It is estimated that in 20 districts there is an equivalent amount of loss of 6 thousand 880 crore rupees. Special allocation is needed to protect biodiversity in our country. Due to pollution, encroachment, disasters, deforestation, and hunting, biodiversity in Bangladesh is now facing significant threats. Conservation efforts need special attention across the country, including in the Sundarbans. For instance, due to the impact of cyclone 'Remal', approximately 126 animals, including many deer, died and faced habitat loss due to flooding in suitable areas. Currently, about 35% of the population in Bangladesh resides in urban areas. In the budget speech, various initiatives have been highlighted to improve urban infrastructure, enhance living standards for citizens, increase efficiency, and ensure easy access to essential services. These efforts are indicative of a proactive approach towards urban development.

However, planned urbanization and urban policy implementation for all urban areas in Bangladesh are now one of the critical demands of the time. Concurrently, it is highly essential to coordinate the budget allocations among various ministries involved in climate change-related activities and ensure their effective implementation. This coordination is necessary to assess locally the specific budgetary needs for different purposes. In the future, we will be able to understand how far we have progressed towards achieving sustainable development goals. We need to see more deeply how we can involve young people more actively in mitigating climate change. The next generation is destined to be the main targets of climate change. Finally, it must be emphasized that to achieve sustainable development goals by 2030, it is imperative to address the impacts of climate change and strategies for mitigation. There are no alternatives to comprehensive planning, funding, implementation, and monitoring for effective adaptation.

According to a review by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany, due to climate change, global economy will need to pay an additional $38 lakh crore by 2050. They claim that primarily due to rising temperatures, global economic income will decrease by 19% over the next 25 years. A report has been prepared based on the climate over the past 40 years in 1,600 regions worldwide. Published in the scientific journal Nature, researcher Maximilian Kotzé, a member of the research team, stated that due to past emissions, global economy could see a 19% loss by 2049, equivalent to a decrease of 17% in global GDP.

The report further details that over the next decade and a half, countries in South Asia and Africa will face the most significant economic damages. Their income could decrease by around 22%. Another member of the reviewing team, Leonie Wenz, highlighted that due to climate change and various factors, advanced countries like the United States, Germany, and France will also not escape from the impacts. Due to carbon emissions, the economic damage to the global economy has already been significant. However, due to climate change, the future damage is projected to be nearly six times greater.

Scientists believe that keeping the global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels before the Industrial Revolution could prevent major catastrophic consequences. Failing to do so would pose significant risks to nature, the environment, and human life. Many scientists fear that there is no way to prevent this alarming transformation, and by the end of the current century, global temperatures could rise by three degrees Celsius. The impact of such a scenario will vary significantly across different regions of the world. For instance, in Britain, precipitation levels are expected to increase drastically, leading to more frequent and intense flooding events. Rising sea levels could submerge many small islands or island nations in the Pacific Ocean. In Africa, there could be an increase in droughts, leading to food crises. Australia might experience additional heatwaves and more frequent droughts due to climate change impacts. Countries are being urged to ensure that they achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the mid-21st century, specifically by 2050. This means any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by activities such as planting additional trees to maintain equilibrium. If countries can achieve that, it is hoped that they can mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change by quickly reducing the rate of temperature increase.

Author: Researcher and Columnist

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