Climate change in Bangladesh
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Climate change in Bangladesh is a pressing issue. According to National Geographic, Bangladesh is one the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change. Bangladesh being located on the Tropic of Cancer receives fairly direct radiation throughout the year and maintains relatively high temperature.
Bangladesh lies at the bottom of the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna (GBM) river system. Bangladesh is watered by a total of 57 trans-boundary rivers flowing to it: 54 from neighboring India and three from Myanmar. The country, which has no control of water flows and volume, drains to the Bay of Bengal. Coupled with the high level of widespread poverty and increasing population density, limited adaptive capacity, and poorly funded, ineffective local governance have made the region one of the most adversely affected on the planet. There are an estimated one thousand people in each square kilometer, with the national population increasing by two million people each year. Almost half the population is in poverty (defined as purchasing power parity of US$1.25 per person a day). The population lacks the resources to respond to natural disasters as the government cannot help them.:7
Sea level rise
Low-lying coastal regions, such as Bangladesh, are vulnerable to sea level rise and the increased occurrence of intense, extreme weather conditions such as the cyclones of 2007–2009, as well as the melting of polar ice. To address the sea level rise threat in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 has been launched.
Effects on agriculture
In most countries like Bangladesh, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced to 50 percent by 2020. For a country with increasing population and hunger, this will have an adverse effect on food security. Although the effects of climate change are highly variable, by 2030, South Asia could lose 10 percent of rice and maize yields, while neighboring states like Pakistan could experience a 50 percent reduction in crop yield.
As a result of all this, Bangladesh would need to prepare for long-term adaptation, which could be as drastic as changing sowing dates due to seasonal variations, introducing different varieties and species, to practicing novel water supply and irrigation systems.:230
Migration and displacement
Climate change has caused many citizens of Bangladesh to migrate and by 2013 already 6.5 million people had been displaced. Poor and other vulnerable population groups have been affected disproportionally. Dhaka as well as local urban centers are mostly the destination of migration caused by climate change. This leads to an increased pressure on urban infrastructure and services, especially around health and education and creates a hightened risk of conflicts. An increased number of floods, due to reduced river gradients, higher rainfall in the Ganges-Meghna-Brahmaputra river basins, and the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas, is considered the major reason for migration in the context of climate change in Bangladesh over all. These floods not only lead to the erosion of arable land, but also have a negative impact on other income opportunities and often disrupt the livelihood patterns of whole families. In the northern regions of Bangladesh drought plays a major role in displacement of persons, in the South rising sea levels and cyclones are reasons for migration.
With a larger population facing losses in arable lands, climate change poses an acute risk to the already malnourished population of Bangladesh. Although the country has managed to increase its production of rice since the nation's birth — from 10 million metric tons (MT) to over 30 MT — around 30 percent of the population is still malnourished. Now more than five million hectares of land are irrigated, almost fourfold that in 1990. Even though modern rice varieties have been introduced in three-fourths of the total rice irrigation area, the sudden shift in population increase is putting strains on the production. Climate change threatens the agricultural economy, which, although it counts for just 20 percent of GDP, contributes to over half the labor force. In 2007, after a series of floods and cyclone Sidr, food security was severely threatened. Given the country's infrastructure and disaster response mechanisms, crop yields worsened. The loss of rice production was estimated at around two million metric tons (MT), which could potentially feed 10 million people. This was the single most important catalyst of the 2008 price increases, which led to around 15 million people going without much food. This was further worsened by cyclone Aila. In March 2017, extreme pre-monsoon rains and flash floods damaged 220,000 hectares of rice crops. Rice imports increased to three million tonnes from less than 100,000 tonnes the year before. A December 2018 study published by the American Meteorological Society found that climate change doubled the likelihood of the extreme pre-monsoon rainfall.
National and international policies
Given the frequent climate change-based catastrophes, Bangladesh needs to enhance food security by drafting and implementing new policies such as the 2006 National Sausage Policy. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) supported this policy through the "National Food Policy Capacity Strengthening Program" (NFPCSP). There is also an initiative for the start of a "Food Security Country Investment Plan" enabling the country to secure around US$52 million under the "Global Agriculture and Food Security Program" (GAFSP), making it Asia's first recipient. More work and better implementation from the government is necessary for activities to reach fruitful outcomes. Already, 11 ministries and governmental agencies are involved in this integrated endeavor. In the aftermath of the "East Pakistan Coastal Embankment plan" (CEP) in the mid-20th century, Bangladesh has recently started work on the "Master Plan for the South". The southern coastal area is vulnerable to the ill-effects of global climate. Crops, livestock, and fisheries of the southern delta are threatened. There are plans for a US$3 billion multi-purpose bridge named "Pad ma" to transform the agricultural sector in the region. The government estimates a GDP increase of around two percent as a result of the project.
In an effort to achieve middle income country status by 2021, the government is focusing on increasing agriculture production, productivity, water management techniques, surface water infrastructure, irrigation, fisheries, and promoting poultry and dairy development. Bio fuels fit into this scenario by providing energy for agriculture. In 2006, the Ministry of Agriculture provided a 30 percent subsidy to diesel to power irrigation for farming, further proposing a 7,750 million BDT disbursement to help almost a million farmers with fuel.:354
Bangladesh loses land to rising sea levels, but gains land from sediment deposits. The effects of sea level rise and land accretion in Bangladesh are highly regional and variegated. Natural land accretion, paired with targeted policies to secure such land for farming use has the potential to partially mitigate the effects of land lost.
As a Least developed country (LDC), Bangladesh is exempt from any responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which are the primary cause of global warming. But lately this has been the rallying factor for policy makers to give off higher amounts of emissions in nearly all sectors with disregard for the environment. Large developed industrial nations are emitting increasing quantities of GHGs. The country cannot go far in their struggle with reducing emissions and fighting global warming with the considerable scantily supported funding and help it receives from the international community. There exist plans such as the "National Action Plan on Adaptation" (NAPA) of 2005, and the "Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan" (BCCSAP) of 2009.
BCCSAP states that an integrated approach is necessary and the only way to gain sustainability is where economic and social development is pursued to the exclusion of disaster management, as one major calamity will destroy any socio-economic gains. Around 40–45 percent of GHG emissions are required to be reduced by 2020 and 90–95 percent by 2050. This is using the 1990 GHG concentration levels as a benchmark. With higher population and rapid industrialization, Bangladesh should be on its way to developing a low-carbon path given it initially receives significant financial and technical support from the international community and national goals of economic growth and social development is not hampered. But a more holistic short-term plan is also necessary. Bangladesh has established the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) and the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) allocating US$200 million and cumulating around further US$114 million respectively. Although 3000 cyclone shelters were constructed with over 40,000 trained volunteers and 10,000 km of embankments erected, Bangladesh should not only place emphasis on capacity building and disaster management but also institutional and infrastructure strengthening, development of research and low carbon technologies in order to create an inclusive and truly comprehensive mitigation scheme. Even though it is agreed that the willingness and cooperation of the current UNFCCC parties (194 member states as of 2011) is necessary to help the nation, funds like the Special Climate and LDC, Adaptation Fund should be easily made available.:133
Foreign aid and funding
Various countries have pledged to provide funding for adaptation and mitigation in developing nations, such as Bangladesh. The accord committed up to US$30 billion of immediate short term funding over the 2010-2012 period from developed to developing countries to support their action in climate change mitigation. This funding is available for developing nations to build their capacity to reduce emissions and responds to impacts of climate change. Furthermore, this funding will be balanced between mitigation and infrastructure adaptation in various sectors including forestry, science, technology and capacity building. Moreover, the Copenhagen Accord (COP 15) also pledges US$100 million of public and private finance by 2020, mostly to developing nations.
Another misconception is that this accord will divert funding from poverty reduction. The private sector alone contributes more than 85 percent of current investments for a low carbon economy. In order to maximize any future contributions from this sector, the public sector needs to overcome the political and bureaucratic barriers the private sector has to face towards a low carbon future.:72
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