Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bangladesh to lead vulnerable states in Durban climate conference

By Nizam Ahmed, The Financial Express

Bangladesh, the most vulnerable country to the global warming, is expected to play an important role in the next week's ministerial session of the climate change conference in the South African coastal city Durban, officials said in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Mitigation of the global warming is most essential for Bangladesh -- which through hard efforts trebled its food production in the past decades -- to keep its momentum about producing enough to feed its growing population, a recent report of the World Food Programme (WFP) said.

Officials of the ministry of agriculture (MoA) expected production of rice to reach some 35 million tonnes in 2011, some 1.0 million tonnes more than that of the previous year.

The four-day-long ministerial session will begin on December 6 and will conclude with Durban Declaration on December 9. Bangladesh Environment and Forest Hasan Mahmud will represent Bangladesh at the ministerial meeting.

The Durban conference began virtually on Monday as relevant officials and delegations from about 190 countries met to do the groundwork, ahead of the ministerial meeting which is aimed at curbing emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants to help abate global warming.

"Bangladesh along with other members of Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) will press for creation of a $100 billion Green Climate Fund (GCF) fund to mitigate the loss, to be caused by climate change," a senior official of the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) told the FE.

The CVF, a club of 16 countries, likely to be hit by global warming in its latest ministerial meeting in Dhaka in the middle of this month, demanded $100 billion as funding support from the world's top polluters like China, the USA, Brazil, India etc., to mitigate or combat the problems of global warming.

The CVF, in which Bangladesh plays a prominent role, will also press for inclusion of a 13-point Dhaka Declaration, adopted at the recently-held ministerial meeting of CVF in Dhaka, the officials of MoEF said.

Presently, Bangladesh urgently needs $10 billion to mitigate the losses, already caused by climate change. Out of the committed $3.0 billion by the developed countries, Bangladesh so gar received only $125 million, they said.

Experts say the global warming, if left unabated, is likely to affect most vulnerable countries including Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has made progress in recent decades in reducing hunger, with its number of undernourished people dropping to 27 per cent as of January 2011, and its annual rice production tripling over a period of last three decades.

Experts reiterated that Bangladesh was in a serious risk among the developing countries for the consequences of climate change that is likely to affect its agriculture sector, and increase hunger, malnutrition and food security by 2050.

Most of the increase of hunger and malnutrition is expected in the sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South Asia and Central America, the latest report by the World Food Programme (WFP) said.

"By 2050, climate change is expected to increase the number of hungry people by 10 per cent to 20 per cent, and the number of malnourished children is expected to increase by 24 million -- 21 per cent more than without the effect of climate change," the WFP report said.

It said natural disasters are more frequent and intense, land and water are becoming more scarce and difficult to access and it is getting harder to achieve increases in agricultural productivity.

Separately, the British non-governmental organization (NGO), ActionAid, said at least 10 countries were highly vulnerable to a climate-related food crisis and Bangladesh was among the five most vulnerable countries and other ones are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Africa and Haiti.

Composed largely of low-lying land and islands with a high density of population, limited arable land, and frequent natural disasters, Bangladesh has been described as the most vulnerable country by most experts.

Forecasts by experts, disaster management and food officials predict that climate change could reduce agricultural production and increase food prices, raising the risk of hunger and malnutrition in Bangladesh and nine other countries.

The vulnerable countries will also press for allocation of 50 per cent of the proposed GCF for adaptation purpose, reducing the current emission level by 85 per cent by 2050 and limiting the global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius by the industrialised nations, as adopted in the November Dhaka declaration.


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