Billions of people of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are suffering from the climate change, and the suffering would increase in the days to come as the developed, industrialist countries are responsible for the emission of carbon dioxide, said the speakers.
The participants said Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of global warming. And 17.5 per cent areas of the Southern region of the country would go under water, if one metre of the sea level rises due to climate change, they pointed out.
The National Consultation Seminar on "Climate Change Negotiation" was organised by the Forum of Environmental Journalists of Bangladesh (FEJB) in collaboration with the World Water Forum of Journalists (WWFJ) and Commonwealth Environmental Journalists Association (CEJA).
The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supported the seminar. FEJB Chairman Quamrul Islam Chowdhury presided over the meeting held at Jatiya Press Club.
Although responsible for the climate change, the developed countries do not respond positively to the crisis, nor do they come forward to address it, the speakers pointed out. The attitude of the European Union, however, is pretty positive towards the LDCs causes, they said.
They said the LDCs should raise voice in unison against the countries contributing extensively to global warming and create pressure on them for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and its full implementation.
Speaking at the seminar, Secretary to the Ministry of Environment and Forest Mahfuzul Islam said Bangladesh would raise voice at the upcoming sixth International Climate Change Negotiation meeting to be held in Bonn on July 16 to 28 for implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and for assistance to Bangladesh.
Mahfuzul Islam said Bangladesh together with other developing countries would put pressure on other countries to sign the protocol.
Addressing the inaugural session, World Bank Country Director Frederick T. Temple said millions of Bangladesh people living below the poverty line suffer lack of basic healthcare and malnutrition on one hand, and one of the most vulnerable nations in the world to climate change, on the other.
He said Bangladesh stands to benefit from being an even more active participant in all international debates on climate change because Bangladesh's contribution to the global emissions of greenhouse gases is less than 0.1 per cent.
Temple said the impact of climate change does not stop only at environmental damage, it also affects other areas of development, which are crucial for the country's future economic growth, human health, basic infrastructure and lifestyle and wellbeing of every person.
The WB country director said the climate change is slow, yet irreversible, and Bangladesh should take effective measures before major changes begin. He observed that the higher seawater level would scale up the frequency and duration of flooding. The global warming in the dry season threatens to increase the severity of drought, harming agricultural land, essential ecosystem and biodiversity in Bangladesh.
He underscored the need for an integrated countrywide programme of adaptation to climate change. This work should not be isolated from that of meeting the country's development goals.
UNDP's Resident Representative Dr Yannick Glemaree said Bangladesh should play a proactive role in the international efforts to mitigate the risks of climate change and focus on down-to-earth options immediately.
He underscored the need for the immediate phasing out of two-stroke engines and opting for CNG-run ones. He said the energy price reform is necessary to encourage the use of efficient and renewable technologies.
Dr Firoze Ahmed of the BUET said the developed countries must give up their lavish lifestyle in order to help the developing countries not least because they are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. He informed that the per capita emission of greenhouse gases in Bangladesh is 0.5 per cent ton, which is the least in Asia and it will continue until 2020.
Graham Clough of the British High Commission and DG of Department of Environment Khandaker Rashidul Haque also addressed the inaugural session. The technical session was joined by the experts from the World Bank, UNDP, BUET, MoEF, BIDS, SEMP and Dhaka University.
Source: The Daily Star. July 6, 2001