• Thursday, Nov 14, 2019
  • Last Update : 09:58 pm

IMF: Rising sea levels put one-third Bangladeshis at risk of displacement

  • Published at 03:02 pm September 20th, 2019
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This file photo taken on April 11, 2019, shows the seal of the International Monetary Fund at IMF Headquarters in Washington, DC AFP

Losses linked to such events were estimated to average 1.8% annually during 1998-2017

International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said Bangladesh is considered especially vulnerable to climate change with one-third of its population at risk of displacement because of rising sea levels. 

According to some indicators, the country ranked among the top ten countries in the world most affected by extreme weather events during 1998-2017 (Global Climate Risk Index). 

Losses linked to such events were estimated annually to average 1.8% of GDP between 1990 and 2008. 

Rising sea levels and coastal erosion could lead to a loss of 17% of land surface and 30% of food production by 2050, according to experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of the United Nations. 

Recognizing the urgency of the issue, Bangladesh became one of the most active countries in terms of planning and action on climate change, according to IMF. 

While Bangladesh accounts for less than 0.35% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the country took several measures in recent years to promote climate change investments, it said. 

Chief among these is adopting a fiscal framework designed to channel more resources towards adaptation investments, according to the latest IMF assessment shared on Thursday. 

At the same time new environmental guidelines promote green financing, foster green banking, and establish dedicated funds. 

Bangladesh is also active in seeking grant financing from the international community, notably through the Green Climate Fund, it said. 

It said Bangladesh continues to make progress in reducing poverty, improving education opportunities, particularly for girls, and reaching other development-related goals. 

With a relatively young population, the country is well positioned for the next few decades to build on its recent success, IMF said. 

However, in aspiring to reach upper middle-income status, Bangladesh faces several challenges, as discussed in the IMF's latest economic assessment. 

Near the top of the list is coping with the risks associated with climate change. 

Looking forward, IMF said, there is room to improve capacity to address climate change, particularly compared with emerging countries in Asia. 

A priority for the government will be to gradually reform energy subsidies and free up fiscal and other resources to address climate change, through revenue mobilization-a significant challenge given the country's low tax revenue-to-GDP ratio, which stands at less than 10%. 

More can also be done to promote climate-friendly investments, IMF said. 

Several options are feasible: 

1. Reducing and gradually eliminating costly energy subsidies, while mitigating the impact on the poorest through targeted transfers.

2. Considering phased introduction of a carbon tax on selected fuel products, notably those consumed by more affluent households, such as petrol and diesel at the pump, which could help raise revenue, reduce pollution, and encourage the use of cleaner, emissions-saving technologies.

3. Preparing financially against the impact of natural disasters through a dedicated contingency line in the budget and using insurance mechanisms such as catastrophe bonds that provide more extensive coverage. 

4. Fostering climate-friendly investments, including taxing pollution, incentivizing green products, and enhancing the business environment to attract foreign investors who promote the use of clean technologies.