Climate change is one of the most important challenges that humanity collectively faces the 21st century. Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change due to global warming. The government of Bangladesh has a major role to play in global climate diplomacy.
Climate change is a change in average weather patterns over a long period of time. Climate change in the world can be caused by various activities. When the temperature rises, many different changes can occur on Earth. It can result in more floods, droughts, intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves.
As these changes frequently will occur in future decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and environment. In recent years, scientists have realized the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. A key goal of both the ‘Leaders Summit’ on climate and ‘COP26’ is to accelerate efforts that keep that 1.5-degree goal within reach.
Climate diplomacy means prioritizing climate action with partners worldwide. It calls for preparing appropriate risk assessment and risk management at a global strategic level. The European Commission defines four strands of climate diplomacy at the political level:
- Committing to multilateralism in climate policy, particularly to the implementation of the Paris Agreement
- Addressing implications of climate change on peace and security
- Accelerating domestic action and raising global ambition
- Enhancing international climate cooperation through advocacy and outreach
First Step of Climate Diplomacy
In light of the limited progress of international climate policy development and the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012, there was a need for supplementary efforts to develop action plans regarding crisis and conflict preventive climate policy. The German-led debate on climate change in the UN Security Council in July 2011 was a first step in this regard. It endeavored to develop new ideas and stimuli which could strategically and practically address the ever more visible challenges of climate change, regarding both mitigation and adaptation.
Climate Diplomacy and Bangladesh
Bangladesh has made great strides in involving all ministries and branches of government in tackling climate change at home. The fact that the Eighth Five Year Plan, the Perspective Plan of 2041 and the Delta Plan 2100 have all included tackling climate change as major strategies is an example of this.
At the same time, the Ministry of Finance has, for the last few years, included a climate change budget allocation for different ministries. In this year’s climate change budget, over 20 ministries have been given a significant allocation of funds. However, when it comes to climate diplomacy at the international level we are still, to a large extent, relying on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), which leads the annual negotiations at the Conference of Parties (COPs) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) every year.
Since the achievement of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015 at COP21, the need for climate diplomacy has become a daily necessity for all sectors of government. This need becomes more urgent as Bangladesh, under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is now the leader of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) countries. The first thing that is needed, and indeed has been achieved, is for the PM herself to take this issue of climate diplomacy seriously and instruct her politicians and bureaucracy that everyone will have a role to play.
We need to understand and take into account that the COP, which only takes place once a year, is no longer the only place where climate diplomacy occurs. Indeed, every diplomat in Bangladesh ’embassies across the world now needs to make climate change a core issue of bilateral discussion with host governments. In developed countries, our advocacy will be to encourage them to fulfill their pledges made in the Paris Agreement, and in developing countries, our focus would be on exploring SouthSouth collaboration on tackling climate change, where Bangladesh can share its knowledge on locally led adaptation (LLA) to climate change.
This is of particular importance, as Bangladesh hopes to develop out of being a Least Developed Country (LDC) within a few years and this will stop our access to grant-based international funding So we need to enhance our ability to access global climate finance going forward. In terms of non-government stakeholders, the key one is the private sector, which can play a role in accessing global climate finance and building businesses to tackle climate change.
The other major stakeholders are academia, where the successful platform of more than 50 universities and research institutions have already come under the umbrella of the Gobeshona Initiative, which has become a model for LDCs through the LDC Universities Consortium on Climate Change (LUCCC).
The NGOs in Bangladesh are already famous globally for their knowledge of development as well as tackling climate change. At the same time, the Bangladesh chapter of the Climate Action Network (CAN), which is one of the biggest global civil society networks on climate change, is very effective. The PM declared that Bangladesh would prepare the first such plan, named the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan (MCPP), which is due to be released for public consultation very soon.
This pioneering plan has the potential to become a vehicle for Bangladesh’s climate diplomacy for the next decade. As the world’s biggest existential crisis, climate change is a global problem in which Bangladesh by – virtue of being one of the most vulnerable countries, is also at the forefront of learning how to tackle its problems. It is expected that Bangladesh will play an effective diplomatic role finding sustainable solutions for the people living with climate change-induced disasters.
John Kerry’s Bangladesh visit
John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, handed over an invitation letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to participate in the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate. The summit, held on 22! 23 April 2021 and attended by 40 world leaders, hosted by the US President Joe Biden. The initiative indicates that Joe Biden’s government is dealing with the climate change issues with utmost importance.
Leaders Summit on Climate and Bangladesh
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina put forward four suggestions to global leaders to fight climate change challenges with a strong collective response. Sheikh Hasina’s suggestions include announcing an immediate and ambitious action plan to reduce carbon emissions worldwide to keep the global temperature at 1.5 degrees Celsius and ensuring the annual target of $100 billion which should be balanced 50:50 between adaptation and mitigation with special attention to the vulnerable countries.
The other two suggestions are major economies, international financial institutions, and private sectors should come forward with plans for concessional climate financing and focusing on green economy and carbon-neutral technologies with a provision of technology transfer among nations.
Leaders Summit on Climate
President Biden convened 40 world leaders in a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate April 22-23 in tackling the climate crisis and meeting the demands of science. Many leaders underscored the urgency of other major economies strengthening their ambition as well on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021 in Glasgow.
Announcements of this Session include, among others:
- Japan will cut emissions 46-50% below 2013 levels by 2030, with strong efforts toward achieving a 50% reduction.
- India reiterated its target of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and announced the launch of the ‘U.S.-India 2030 Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership’ to mobilize finance and spread clean energy innovation and deployment this decade.
- The European Union is putting into law, a target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and a net zero target by 2050.
- China indicated that it will join the Kigali Amendment, strengthen the control of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, strictly control coal-fired power generation projects, and phase down coal consumption.
- Russia noted the importance of carbon capture and storage from all sources, as well as atmospheric carbon removals.