Global Climate Change Debate: Where we are?

About 17 percent of the Bangladesh’s land and 13 percent of agricultural activities would be affected if there is one metre sea-level rise. So, Bangladesh must have a national consensus regarding its stance for negotiation in Copenhagen. It should be discussed and debated in parliament.

Bangladesh as a most vulnerable country (MVC) of climate change  wants a fair and safe deal in Copenhagen, particularly for billions of poor and vulnerable people whose governments cannot afford to pay to fix the problem. The rich countries should pay attention to the lives in billions of people rather gaining financial benefit. 

In December of this year, the UN conference of parties (COP) is going to conduct its 15th conference to set a long term goals to tackle down climate change. Environmental activists are spending busy time to prepare the draft outline of COP-15. But would we win the diplomacy of rich countries? We should learn from the ongoing debate to take control on negotiations of climate talks.

The Natural Fix? The Role of Ecosystems in Climate Mitigationa study of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stated that expanding the capacity of natural areas for capturing and storing carbon is one of the keys to curbing climate change, and would be a relatively low-cost solution that would also improve the quality of life of millions of farmers. More attention must be paid to natural carbon absorption, along with cutting greenhouse gases caused by humans. The report called for the adoption of a “comprehensive policy framework” on management of carbon – the main greenhouse gas – which would include the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and the management of grasslands and agricultural areas.

But the global environmental watchdog Greenpeace says the natural capacity of ecosystems to capture carbon is not a priority in the negotiations among governments ahead of the December UN Climate Convention Meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark. María José Cárdenas, head of the Greenpeace Mexico climate and energy campaign said, “If no progress has been made in setting timeframes for emissions cuts by developed countries, even less progress has been made in the case of carbon management”.  The aim of the Denmark meeting is to sign a new international climate change agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, in effect since 2005, the 37 industrialised countries committed themselves to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by five percent on average, from 1990 levels, by target dates ranging from 2008 to 2012. Some of the countries, like Canada, have already admitted that they will not reach the target. The United States, which is responsible for one-quarter of global greenhouse gases, is not a party to the Kyoto Protocol, on the decision of former president George W. Bush (2001-2009). His successor President Barack Obama has pledged to sign the new agreement that is to emerge from the Denmark conference, and said his country would assume clear commitments on air pollution. But his administration has not referred to the need for new agreements to enhance natural carbon sequestration.

Greenpeace activist Cárdenas also said, “There is talk about a renewed interest in negotiating emissions reduction commitments, but in practice the crisis is being used to maintain the consumerist system that has generated the climate change problems we are suffering today,”

In May 2009,  Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United States, as well as the European Union (EU) gathered together at a meeting named Major Economies Forum (MEF) where the ministers of these big economies were heard that 80 percent of the globe’s greenhouse gases and `world’s destiny’ may lie in the outcome of the mooted climate change pact. The French Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, opening the gathering of the so-called Major Economies Forum (MEF), pointed to the aim of forging a planet-wide treaty in Copenhagen in December under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He briefed in his addressing, “The world’s destiny will probably be at stake in Copenhagen. Copenhagen is not a retrograde vision, it’s not the start of negative growth, but a new start for strong, sustainable, sober carbon development”.

The state minister for Environment and Forest Mostafizur Rahman said at conference organised by organised by Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood (CSRL) in July 2009 the developed countries, which are mostly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, should come forward to ensure the survival of vulnerable countries like Bangladesh by providing due compensations. He also demand, “We do hope that the Annex-1 countries would unconditionally contribute to our national fund as compensation and support the process of managing it [fund] through our national mechanisms determined by us,”.

In the same conference, Bangladesh with other MVCs demanded the developed countries to reduce their emission by 45 percent in aggregate against 1990 levels by 2020 and make available fund of $150 billion a year to help protect the victims. They also demanded that annex 1 Parties (developed nations) must reduce their emission by at least 45 percent in aggregate against 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The MVCs also urged  all Parties to the UNFCCC to ensure that an agreement is reached at COP15 to ensure survival of billions of people of the globe.  

‘I came here with deep concerns of our people, who no sooner had tasted democracy than confronted with critical, dire impacts of climate change,addressing the World Climate Conference-3 on September 2009  at Geneva International Conference Centre, the prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, sought technological and financial supports from the international community, particularly resourceful developed countries, to combat the challenges of climate change as Bangladesh is considered one of the worst sufferers for the climatic disorders for no fault of its own.

She said, `A one-metre rise of sea level would inundate a third of Bangladesh, and this would result in mass migration northwards, imposing increasing pressure on land and resources and loss livelihood of about 40 million people. There is no doubt that human-induced climate change is, to a large extent, responsible for these phenomena and, ironically, the people of Bangladesh are least to be blamed for them.’


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She also pointed out, the challenge to Bangladesh in facing natural disasters from global warming and climate change is monumental,’ she told the global meet on the most worrying problem that threatens the planet as a whole.


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