According to a recent report, the country is likely to be hit by a “carbon bomb” once the projected 30-coal based power plants go into operation by 2031. The report titled “Choked by Coal: The Carbon Catastrophe in Bangladesh” was jointly released by Australia-based Market Force and US-based 350.org and shared by co-publishers, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) and Waterkeepers Bangladesh. It tells us that these projects could also land the country in a “trade deficit”, because they will cost Bangladesh an estimated USD 2 billion or Tk 170 billion annually for the import of coal.
While the data is not off the mark, Bangladesh, as an energy-starved country, finds itself in a catch-22 situation. Development activities must go on and policymakers are eyeing annual GDP growth rates beyond the seven-percent mark. This will require massive electricity generation, which inevitably will come from coal, as it remains the cheapest fossil fuel widely available both domestically and internationally. Yet, at what cost? The carbon bomb being talked about can be summed up easily from the adverse environmental effects of a single 525-megawatt coal-fired plant in Dinajpur.
Although the USA, a major user of coal to produce energy, has pulled out of the Paris Agreement, we have other global economies like India and China that have and are continuing to pour in hundreds of billions of dollars annually to fuel research on renewable, clean energy. Because, the harmful effects of a coal-driven economy and the associated ill-effects on public health due to air pollution, contamination of the soil and water resources are all documented facts. There is still time for our policymakers to rethink the energy mix of the country that would spare the future generations from a degraded environment. Putting our efforts to devise alternative renewable sources of energy that would ensure a healthy growth without degrading the environment is an urgent imperative for us.