• Wednesday, Dec 01, 2021
  • Last Update : 05:44 pm

Coal power expansion: Study apprehends environmental disaster

  • Published at 02:01 am November 7th, 2019
Transparency International Bangladesh Coal
Research groups launches report styled “Chocked by Coal: the Carbon Catastrophe in Bangladesh”, at the Dhaka Reporters’ Unity on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka tribune

Bangladesh to emit 115 million tons additional CO2 annually

Bangladesh will release an additional 115 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually in the atmosphere once it completes constructing and starts operating 29 planned and under-construction coal-fired power plants by 2032, suggests a study report.

It also apprehends that Bangladesh is going to face a great environmental disaster due to the government's move to set up these coal-fired power plants across the country.

India, China, Japan and the United Kingdom, among other influential countries, are pushing Bangladesh to execute the expansion, said the report styled “Chocked by Coal: the Carbon Catastrophe in Bangladesh”, launched at the Dhaka Reporters’ Unity on Wednesday.

Of the planned coal-fired plants, China will be providing funds for 18,000 MW while the UK for 3700 MW, Japan for 3600 MW and India for 1320 MW.

Against the 525 megawatt (MW) electricity currently being generated from the only coal-based plant in Dinajpur, the amount of total coal-fuelled power in Bangladesh will jump by over 63 times to 33,250 MW, the research findings observe.

Research groups--Market Forces and 350.org—carried out the study in association with Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa), Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) and Waterkeepers Bangladesh.

Discussing the findings of the report, experts said the mammoth expansion plan of coal-fired power generation in Bangladesh is suicidal, and it contradicts the government’s pledge to the people, of a habitable country.

They also termed the plan completely inconsistent with the Paris Agreement and a major obstacle to attain the sustainable development goals (SDG) fully.

According to them, some vested conglomerates are also provoking the government to go for the massive expansion, taking advantage of Bangladesh’s plan to expand its power generation capacity to a great extent. 

TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said Bangladesh needs more electricity, but not at the cost of lives and the environment.  

“When the developed countries, considering the environmental impact of coal, are shutting down coal-based power plants, we are being asked to go for coal power expansion,” he said, hinting at some economically powerful countries. 

He also said the government has undertaken many power plant projects defying “acceptable” environmental assessment reports. 

“We’re fighting climate change and, at the same time, emphasising on coal power expansion. This is completely a two-faced attitude,” he said, urging the government to stop constructing of the ongoing coal-fired power plant projects until comprehensive environmental assessment.

Iftekharuzzaman said in 1200 MW Matarbari coal-fired power plant, the financing agency Jica (Japan International Cooperation Agency) itself conducted the environmental assessment – which should not be the case.  

Bapa General Secretary Abdul Matin said as part of their stance against the 1320MW Rampal power station in Bagerhat, the green group submitted the findings of 13 studies to the government informing it the potential ecological damage from the plant, but yet to get any response. 

“It’s been 28 months, since we submitted our findings. But the government has not responded as yet,” he said.

Matin went on saying that the ashes that the coal burnt at the plant will not only affect the Sundarbans, but will eventually spread to Kolkata, India in 20 to 30 years after it goes into operation.  

Sharmin Morshed, executive director of non-government organization Broti, said Bangladesh’s plan for a 63-fold coal power expansion will deprive the country of implementing 90% of the SDGs.

“The government formulated water policy and action plan for safe drinking water, but is promoting pollution as the sites of most proposed coal-based power plants are along river banks,” she said. 

The event was addressed among others by economist Mohammad Shahjahan Siddiqui and Waterkeepers Bangladesh’s Sharif Jamil. 

A World Bank (WB) estimate says that Bangladesh's per capital CO2 emission spiralled from 0.18 metric tons in 1997 to 0.46 metric tons in 2016 growing at an average annual rate of 5.17 percent.

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