A call for urgent climate action

The IPCC report and its interpretation for Bangladesh

The IPCC Working Group II report published on February 27, 2022 has again reaffirmed the grave and striking realities of the planetary climate crisis. It has explicitly attributed human interventions for multiple climate hazards, compounding risks, associated loss and damage, and shrinking biodiversity. The report further highlights the interdependence of climate, ecosystem, and human society more strongly than ever and called for urgent climate action to address climatic risks and secure the future.

Although the climate crisis impacts nearly everyone, women, children, and youth in the climate vulnerable countries are the worst sufferers. The risk of continued frequent, intense, and destructive climate hazards put women, children, and youth at high levels of risks in all aspects of life such as livelihoods, health and well-being, education, and future opportunities.

While the IPCC reports are the scientific embodiment of the planetary climate crisis, it is important to interpret the scientific implications for the policy-makers of the Global South, particularly Bangladesh. Despite being one of the most climate vulnerable countries, Bangladesh has made exemplary progress in adaptation planning and emerged as a strong player in the global climate discourse. However, we have not solved all the problems, and improvement is needed to make adaptation actions pro-poor and inclusive. 

Globally, adaptation planning and implementation have advanced with time. Bangladesh has mainstreamed climate adaptation and ecosystem-based solutions in short-term development plans such as the 8th Five-Year Plan, medium-term plans such as the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan, and long-term plans such as Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100. 

The country has also established the climate change trust fund with national finances. However, conscious efforts should be made to create an enabling environment for community participation and efficient transparency and accountability mechanisms to ensure implementation of transformative climate actions.

The IPCC report has also indicated the limits to adaptation and cascading loss and damage. The least developed countries are unable to address losses of lives, livelihoods, and damages of infrastructure, largely due to the unavailability of financial resources. While LDCs should continue putting pressure on developed countries to address loss and damage, Bangladesh should also put efforts for a national mechanism to address climate induced loss and damage, as suggested by leading climate scientist Dr Saleemul Huq.

Evidence of observed impacts and vulnerabilities demonstrate the worldwide urgent need for low carbon green development. It requires system transition, particularly in agriculture, energy, industry, and infrastructure. Resilient development of urban systems will be critical considering the influx of internally displaced climate migrants. The recently formulated Disaster Impact Assessment (DIA) tool and framework of Bangladesh can be the guiding document for a holistic process. The private sector, through innovations, can be instrumental in pursuing green development.

Finally, for a just transition in the post Covid-19 world, we must prioritize the needs of women, girls, elderlies, persons with disabilities, and socially excluded groups. We must prepare the marginalized communities with updated climate information, build their capacities, and scale up locally-led adaptation solutions. Availability of climate funds with simpler access will be crucial for scaling up local solutions. 

Given that we are in March, the month of International Women’s Day, we want to draw the attention of our policy-makers to review the IPCC recommendations and demonstrate strong commitments through the upcoming national budget. It will not suffice to allocate funds unless policies, institutions, and systems internalize the climate emergency and act collectively.  

Farah Kabir is Country Director, ActionAid Bangladesh.