Momentum in Bangladesh has swiftly moved from planning to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions to taking concrete steps to reduce emissions.
Last year the world came together to agree to an international climate treaty, called the Paris Agreement. Prior to the agreement, UN member states were encouraged to put forth national plans detailing how they would decrease their country’s carbon footprints. These plans, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), allowed countries to set their own emission reduction goals, which would then be reviewed and updated every few years.
Bangladesh in its INDC proposed a 5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from “business as usual” levels by 2030 in three major sectors: Industry, power, and transport.
Combined, these sectors currently account for 69% of the country’s total national emissions. These emissions are only expected to increase about threefold by 2030, when compared to 2011 emissions.
Although Bangladesh’s emissions per capita are incredibly low, in light of the country’s goal to attain middle-income status by 2021, the government put forward ambitious emission targets to ensure a pathway for sustainable development.
Taking lead in implementing Bangladesh’s INDC is the Ministry of Environment and Forests with support from the Climate and Development Knowledge Network. Under the ministry’s leadership, special advisory, and technical committees were established with representatives from most other ministries.
These committees not only met regularly to craft the country’s UN climate action plan, but will now take the lead in developing guiding documents to help relevant stakeholders reduce their emissions in the industry, power, and transport sectors.
Each of these sectors also has a working group which will work with the government committees to lay out an in-depth outline of how to reduce emissions; as well as determine the roles and responsibilities different stakeholders will have to play to successfully implement the INDC. Once the map is finalised, reducing emissions will become part and parcel of economic development in the industry, power, and transport sectors.
Like most of the other countries -- 142 to be exact -- Bangladesh additionally included adaptation activities in its UN climate plan. While reducing the effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is important, for a country like Bangladesh, adapting to the detrimental impacts of climate change is just as critical.
As such, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has also initiated a project with the UN Development Program to develop a national adaptation plan, which will attempt to meet the adaptation commitments made in the country’s INDC.
Despite the country’s limited resources, Bangladesh is showing its resourcefulness in addressing climate change head on. The country is well ahead of other least developed nations in implementing its UN climate action plan. While there is still a long way to go, Bangladesh should be proud it is moving in the right direction.
Dr Munjurul Hannan Khan and Areej Riaz both work at the Climate and Development Knowledge Network.