Takes Its Trauma To Bali
By Farid Ahmed
04 December, 2007
DHAKA, Dec 4 (IPS)
- Bangladesh sees in the United Nations climate change conference, currently
underway on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, an opportunity to
remind the world of its special vulnerability.
Bangladesh is still trying
to cope with the aftereffects of Cyclone Sidr which tore through this
deltaic country on Nov.15, killing more than 4,000 people and rendering
several millions more homeless and starving.
Before leaving on the weekedn
for the 11-day conference -- which opened Monday under the U.N. Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) -- environment and forests minister
Chowdhury Sajjadul Karim said he and his 24-member team of experts will
explain the claim that Bangladesh has already suffered greatly from
Bangladesh, Karim pointed
out, has been seeing an increase in the frequency and severity of the
natural disasters that strike this country of 150 million people with
This, the minister contended,
made it the ideal location, for the setting up of an international research
centre for the study of climate change and its impact on nature and
There is backing from academia
for Karim’s demand.
"If an international
climate change research centre is set up in the country, it will be
easy to assess the damage from natural disasters and seek global fund
for climate change adaptation," Prof. Ainun Nishat, country director
for the World Conservation Union (IUCN), told IPS.
The delegation would describe
the people's sufferings and troubles wrought by natural disasters like
cyclones, floods and droughts due to the changed behaviour of nature
by emission of greenhouse gases (GhGs) in other parts of the world.
A series of seminars, held
in Dhaka in the days ahead of the Bali meet, resounded with concern
over the effects of climate change on this country, notorious for its
proneness to geo-climatic events.
The ‘New Age’
daily in an editorial of a special issue on climate change published
on Saturday said: "As we turn the corner to the Bali summit, this
New Age issue on climate change is a charge sheet of crimes for the
world leaders to consider."
According to the editorial
it was only fair to expect that the United States and Europe would bear
the major share of the blame for climate change and compensate those
affected by it.
Exhorting Karim’s team,
the equally influential ‘Daily Star’ said in an editorial
on Sunday: "Bangladesh must make its points in a forceful manner.
It goes without saying that Bangladesh -- where disasters are seen to
be caused by changes in climatic behaviour -- has been at the receiving
end without in any way having contributed to such changes."
Prof. Nishat of the IUCN
explained to IPS that floods, droughts and cyclones were not new for
Bangladesh, but the severity of natural disasters had multiplied because
of the changed behaviour of nature.
Bangladesh would, he said,
demand that the adaptation fund promised by the liable countries be
adequate and distributed according to the real vulnerability of recipient
countries. "It cannot be a justice if a more vulnerable country
receives a fund equal to that of a less vulnerable," he said.
He said the least developed
countries (LDCs) -- of which Bangladesh is a member -- were at a greater
risk from climate change and must compel the industrially developed
countries to reduce GhG emissions as proposed under the Kyoto Protocol
Under a new pact being formulated,
industrialised countries will be asked to accept massive reductions
in their GhG emissions by the end of 2012, when the current phase of
the Kyoto Protocol expires.
The U.N. Development Programme
in its latest human development report (HDR) has warned that climate
change would hit the world's poorest countries by breaking down agricultural
systems, worsening water scarcity, increasing risks of diseases and
triggering mass displacement due to recurring floods and storms.
The report said more than
70 million Bangladeshis, 22 million Vietnamese and six million Egyptians
stand to be affected by global warming-related flooding. "The near-term
vulnerabilities are not concentrated in lower Manhattan and London,
but in flood-prone areas of Bangladesh and drought-prone parts of sub-Saharan
Africa," said Kevin Watkins, lead author of the HDR.
Bangladesh has taken a double
blow this year, first from the devastating floods in July and then from
the worst cyclone since 1991 in mid-November.
The Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted ahead of the Bali meet that accelerated
melting of the Himalayan ice caps and incremental rise in sea levels
would likely increase the severity of flooding in the short-term during
the rainy season and greatly magnify the impact of tidal storm surges
during the cyclone season.
It is feared that a sea-level
rise of just 40 cm in the Bay of Bengal would submerge 11 percent of
the country's land area in the coastal zone, displacing 7 to 10 million
people -- who would then be forced into the interiors of the already
densely populated country.
Experts said the frequency,
extent, depth and duration of floods could increase because of more
monsoon rains triggered by climate change. That would cause a significant
decrease in crops and food security, making it difficult for the country
to feed its vast population, they said.
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