Though Bangladesh is one of the worst victims of climate change with almost no contribution to the cause, experts have bemoaned that the wealthier nations--who have historically contributed the most to the depletion of the ozone layer--are doing very little to help the country overcome this problem.
They said Bangladesh should boost its climate diplomacy to make tackling climate change an important issue of bilateral discussions with developed countries and thus encourage them to fulfill their pledges made in the Paris Agreement.
“Bangladesh is one of the worst victims of extreme weather caused by climate change for a long time. Climate change is a global issue that needs a global solution through collective efforts,” Dr Ainun Nishat, a noted climate expert, told UNB.
He said they have long been highlighting the issue of climate finance for reducing the climate change impacts, but only pledges have been made so far instead of allocating sufficient funds globally.
“Bangladesh and other vulnerable countries should play an active role in different forums and international conferences on climate change in encouraging the developed countries to deliver on their commitments to support the badly affected countries to face the devastating impacts like flash floods, droughts, heat waves, storms, cyclones, and rising sea levels,” the expert said.
“Our country has been experiencing frequent natural disasters like floods, cyclones, increasing incidents of lightning strikes and landslides triggered by global warming, causing huge losses to human lives and natural resources,” Dr Nishat observed.
Bangladesh was the seventh most-affected country in the world by “extreme weather events” over the 20 years, according to a report by Global Climate Risk Index 2019.
Renowned environmental expert Dr Atiq Rahman, who was recognised by the UN as one of the Champions of the Earth in 2008, Bangladesh is not only facing the loss of lives and resources due to the adverse impacts of the climate change, but also facing a threat to food security due to an abnormal shift in its traditional six seasons.
He said farmers in Bangladesh are going through serious difficulties with the cultivation of various crops due to changes in temperature, wind-flow and rainfall patterns. “For an example, farmers face problems in the process of ‘retting’ the jute plants for lack of rainwater. At the same time, the farmers cannot plant their paddy timely during the monsoon period for lack of adequate rainfall.”
Besides Dr Rahman, executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, said winter in Bangladesh is getting less biting, but foggier, hampering the crop production.
Dr Ainun Nishat also the impacts of climate change will continue to affect the country‘s agriculture sector in many ways. “The agricultural calendar that has long been followed by the farmers of the country is changing erratically due to rise in temperature and variations in wind-flow and rainfall patterns which is eventually harming the food chain.
Besides, he said crop production is also being hampered due to flash floods and droughts caused by growing temperature.
Citing different local and international studies, the expert said around 30 million people are “predicted to be at risk” of sea-level rise in Bangladesh by 2050 while the annual rise in sea level in the country ranges between 6mm and 20mm.
He said the rise in sea level is contributing to increasing salinity and climate-induced migration in the coastal areas. “People in some coastal districts are being forced to migrate to different districts due to an increase in salinity.
According to a World Bank study, climate change will cause significant changes in river salinity in the southwest coastal region during the dry season (October to May) by 2050, and will likely lead to shortages of drinking and irrigation water and cause changes in aquatic ecosystems.
Under the circumstances, Both Dr Nishat and Dr Rahman said Bangladesh should focus on climate diplomacy to mount pressure on the industrialised countries to compensate for the losses and damages the country is facing due to climate change and ensure sufficient financing for adaptation and resilience building.