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OPINION: Paris to Dhaka: Bangladesh progressing on climate action  

Munjurul Hannan Khan, CDKN’s country advisor for Bangladesh, Areej Riaz CDKN’s country programme manager for Bangladesh and Syed Muhammad Abubakar, CDKN’s KN Officer for Asia, shed light on Bangladesh’s preparation and implementation of INDC which will help to make its economic sectors climate resilient, towards a low-carbon economy. 

The Paris Climate Agreement announced in November 2015 marked the initiation of a new international agreement between the UN member countries for mitigation goals beyond 2020, i.e. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to limit global warming to 2°C, adapting and mitigating the adverse impacts of climatic change in the form of extreme weather events and slow on-set events.

Whilst acknowledging the need for development to achieve a middle income status by 2021, Bangladesh put forth ambitious targets for climate mitigation and contributions for climate adaptation to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These contributions, also known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), along with INDCs from 184 other countries shaped the Paris Climate Agreement.

Climate mitigation ambition in Bangladesh

Being one of the most vulnerable countries to the changing climate, Bangladesh showed strong leadership through deep engagement with the UNFCCC process on the new climate deal. Bangladesh proposed 5% reduction in GHGs from Business-as-Usual (BAU) levels by 2030 in three sectors; industry, power and transport. These three sectors account for 69% of total national emissions and are expected to increase to 264% by 2030 from 2011 level, from 64 MtCO2e in 2011 to 234 MtCO2e in 2030.

It’s important to note that the changing climate is expected to cause economic losses in Bangladesh amounting to 2% of GDP annually by 2050 and 9.4% by 2100. Even though the country is not a high emitter of GHG emissions, Bangladesh contributes less than 0.35% to global GHG emissions

Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) Version 2.0. (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, 2014)”. World Resources Institute, Bangladesh made a strong case to the UNFCCC for contributing to reduction of further 15% of its GHG emissions in the three aforementioned economic sectors, subject to availability of international financial, technological and capacity development support.

Addressing the two sides of the coin of climate action

Impacts of climate change are already affecting livelihoods of millions, which will exacerbate in the future. Based on the climate forecasting done by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), extreme temperatures, erratic rainfall, floods, drought, tropical cyclones, rising sea levels, tidal surges, salinity intrusion and ocean acidification will cause serious negative impacts on the lives and livelihoods of millions of people including the vulnerable population in Bangladesh. These impacts are gradually offsetting the remarkable socio-economic development gained over the past 30 years, as well as jeopardizing future economic development.

Reflecting the need to adapt to climatic impacts, Bangladesh has maintained the larger focus on climate adaptation and building resilience of it’s economy and population in the INDC submitted to UNFCCC. Aiming for a low carbon and resilient economic development, Bangladesh proposed mitigation actions which can contribute to the global efforts to limit temperature rise to 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Continuing domestic momentum on the Paris agreement

The momentum in Bangladesh has swiftly progressed from INDC submission to implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.  Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), with support from Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) is taking an ambitious lead in initiating preparation and implementation of INDC by developing action plans for implementation of mitigation targets in the INDC, a roadmap for preparation and by mobilizing relevant stakeholders from across the government, civil society and private sector together.

This exercise is designed to translate INDC into guiding documents to guide key stakeholders in the country for implementation of mitigation actions in Industry, Power and Transport sectors. This sectoral planning will also investigate the financial, technological and capacity needs of government, developing this into a national narrative for support on capacity development which will be submitted by MoEF to UNFCCC’s Paris Committee on Capacity Building.

Parallel to this, MoEF has also initiated a project with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to develop a National Adaptation Plan of Action which will initiate planning on adaptation related commitments made in the INDC.

The question remains, how will these efforts ensure INDC is effectively implemented?

Government of Bangladesh is successfully portraying a collective, united front in efforts to make their economic sectors climate resilient and climate smart. Under MoEFs’ leadership, INDC advisory and technical committees have been established that comprise of representatives from most line ministries. These committees met regularly while developing INDC, and are now revived to identify priority actions compatible to climate that should be implemented by Industry, Power and Transport sectors.

Moreover, each economic sector is developing a working group comprising of relevant stakeholders. These groups will be consulted extensively, capturing sectoral knowledge when developing the action plans. These actions plans serving as the first pit stop for government racing to implement climate commitments, may be the first conscious attempt by the government to understand roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder for climate action in each economic sector. This will not only streamline implementation of INDC, but also sustain climate action beyond 2025 as the actions plans will comprise of actions that align to not only the INDC, but also to Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action plan, and the government’s seventh five year development plan.

Once developed, both the actions plans and the roadmap will have to be integrated with sectoral development plans by sectoral ministries. Embedded in economic sectors’ structures, INDC implementation will become part and parcel of economic development in Industry, Power and Transport sectors. The roadmap will map each step that government needs to take from 2017 till 2020 to prepare for implementation of INDC, and steps till 2025 to effectively achieve climate commitments. The former could include capacity development initiatives, developing climate governance structures, strengthening measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) systems, and ensuring institutional arrangements for implementation of actions plans.

The Paris agreement has made the global community hopeful of serious commitment to this global issue, particularly by developed countries. Already signed by 180 countries, the Paris agreement is a clear indication that progressive countries like Bangladesh despite their limited resources, are willing to contribute to the global mission. It is up to developed countries that have resources and are partly responsible for contributing to the issue to stand side by side with progressive vulnerable countries, to support them in their efforts.

Bangladesh is well ahead of other Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to take action on implementation of INDC as pre-2020 mitigation measures. The submission of the INDCs should be seen as a first step toward effective action against climate change. Bangladesh INDCs will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis in order to adjust its economic growth to make it compatible to a low carbon trajectory. Like other developing countries, Bangladesh is focusing on INDC implementation and the government will craft and deliver a roadmap to ensure the contributions proposed in the INDC to the global community are met.

Photo Courtesy: Panos Images

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