Climate Finance Goal: Rich nations must fulfil commitment
"Accessibility of climate fund has been a challenging task for Bangladesh since a considerable amount is in the form of loans and non-concessional instruments."
Developed countries must fulfil their commitment to meeting the hundred-billion-dollar climate finance goal, said speakers at a webinar organised ahead of the COP26 summit to be held in Scotland in a fortnight.
In Bangladesh, the annual average temperatures increased by 0.64 percent in 2018, which was 10 times higher than the annual average temperature increase in 1961, they said.
If the trend of increase in annual average temperature continues, by 2030 the annual average temperature in Bangladesh will nearly be double.
"Since 1971, the average change in the annual average temperature has been 0.30 degrees Celsius [in Bangladesh]. From the year 2000, that increased to 0.57 degrees Celsius," said Dr Fahmida Khatun, executive director, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
CPD and International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) jointly organised the webinar.
Not only has the global goal for a hundred billion dollars in climate finance not been reached, most of the money to combat climate change has come in the form of loans, pointed out Professor Mizan R Khan, deputy director of ICCCAD. Only 20 percent has been in the form of grants.
"Accessibility of climate fund has been a challenging task for Bangladesh since a considerable amount is in the form of loans and non-concessional instruments," said Prof Mizan. "I call this the new climate debt trap."
Judith Herbertson, development director, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Bangladesh, British High Commission, said, "We are going to need financial institutions like development banks to step up on financing. Currently, private investment is absolutely absent from adaptation [measures]. Public money is not going to be adequate."
Dr Saleemul Huq, director of ICCCAD, said every country goes to this conference asking "what are we going to get out of it?" but that should not be the focus.
"The question we should be: 'what is going to be our contribution?' What are the global leaders going to do to make sure they do not leave behind a dead planet?"
Speakers also criticised the fact that most of the money has been coming for mitigation measures -- steps to mitigate the effects of climate change -- as opposed to adaptation measures.
"We have been asking countries to split the money equally [between adaptation and mitigation measures]. One reason why there is more money for mitigation measures is because they can be given as loans. Mitigation measures -- for example renewable energy -- have income streams. Loans can be repaid," said Dr Huq.
Helping a country adapt to floods will not generate any returns, he added.
Dr Rubana Huq, director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), pointed out that unless the big corporations change their behaviour, it is literally impossible for the supply chains to change. "We have a distinctive gap between sourcing and sustainability. For example, when they buy organic cotton but then fly out the goods -- there is a hypocrisy."
CPD Chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan said Bangladesh has serious existential problems which it has to address autonomously at the national level, regardless of what happens at COP.
Ambassador Charles Whiteley of the Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh, Md Ziaul Haque, director (Dhaka) at the Department of Environment, and Enamul Huque, managing director, head of corporate, Commercial and Institutional Banking at Standard Chartered Bangladesh, also spoke at the event moderated by rights activist Khushi Kabir.