No protection without precise action
THE news headlines remind us of climate change, with hailstorms in the state, the absence of snow from fires in Australia to Moscow, or severe floods in China and Germany.
Scientific evidence for climate change is much stronger today than ever before. Global warming is rising due to climate change. And rising temperatures are causing long-term changes in sea levels as polar ice caps melt.
Due to this, the sea and river water levels are exceeding the danger level. The lowlands are sinking. As a result, crores of people are being forced to leave their homes and become displaced.
According to a World Bank survey, 216 million people will be forced to flee their homes in the next three decades as a result of climate change. The World Bank has warned that failure to take urgent action to reduce global carbon emissions and resource gaps could lead to a situation in the near future.
Bangladesh is a victim of climate change without any fault of its own. It is a country with a huge population. Sea-washed in the south.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that by 2050, if the sea level rises by 1 meter due to climate change, at least 18 percent of Bangladesh’s land is likely to be lost to the sea. As a result, a large number of people will become landless and climate refugees.
As a result, on the one hand, as the population density increases, the refugee problem can take on an international dimension beyond the national borders.
According to a survey report by the World Bank, half of the climate migrants in South Asia will be Bangladeshis. Bangladesh is already facing the effects of climate change due to rising sea level, rising salinity, river erosion, floods and drought.
If urgent initiatives and effective measures are not taken, floods and crop production will be ruined and by 2050, about 20 million people in Bangladesh will be at risk of migration.
However, with these risks, Bangladesh has made exemplary progress in disaster preparedness and mitigation in the last decade. However, the fear is that not only Bangladesh, but the whole of South Asia is going to become the most active region in terms of migration caused by climate change. It is feared that the number of climate refugees here will triple in the next 30 years.
This is because important cities and large urban centers in South Asian countries have developed in coastal areas at risk of climate change damage.
But in the midst of so much worrying news, the United States has officially returned to the Paris Climate Agreement. The country is one of the largest emitters of carbon.
On the day of the official return to the agreement, John Kerry, the US president’s special envoy for climate change, took part in a number of virtual events.
He was accompanied by the ambassadors of the United Kingdom and Italy and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres.
At the ceremony, former Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would try to make up for the time wasted by the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.
For this reason, the country also organized a virtual conference called ‘Climate Leaders’ Summit’ with 40 important leaders of the world including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Cop 26, an international climate conference that began in Glasgow, Scotland, has become particularly important since the United States returned to the Paris Agreement. Bangladesh is also a leading voice internationally in this summit.
This is because Bangladesh is chairing the CVF, a high-level international forum on climate change comprising 48 countries. COP 26 is basically a world stage for the signatories of the Paris Agreement to update their plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The new update will be much more ambitious than ever to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.
In addition to this, there are some unfinished works of last year’s climate conference, which have to be completed in this year’s conference.
The current state of global temperatures is the result of the industrialization of the Western world until the middle of the twentieth century.
That is why the developing world has demanded that the West provide more economic and technical assistance to prevent climate change and reduce its carbon emissions. But what China promises is also very important.
Because, at the moment, they are the number one carbon emitting country, surpassing the United States.
World leaders will have to decide whether a large number of people in countries like Bangladesh will become landless and climate refugees due to climate change, or whether future generations will live in a better and healthier normal world. The effects of what we will do in the next few years will last for hundreds of years.
We have witnessed the catastrophic effects of a warmer world due to a rise in temperature of only 1.2 degrees Celsius.
But what if the temperature rises to 2 or 3 degrees Celsius? Environmentalist and climate scholar Bill McCabe says on climate, ‘Slow winning is equal to losing.’ So, the mistake of making a slow decision cannot be made here.
In order to leave a sustainable future for the next generation, world leaders need to take strong action on all issues, including the need for rapid decarbonisation at the ongoing climate conference.
—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Dhaka, Bangladesh.