Over three-dozen civil society organisations, think tanks and climate movement platforms from across the world have urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to cancel her government's approval for all fossil fuel-based power plants, including 29 coal-fired ones.
They have recommended that the government, instead, pay the highest attention to generating 100 per cent power from renewable energy and take necessary actions to meet the target by 2050.
Forty civil society organisations from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, North America and the Pacific on Monday sent a petition to the prime minister, according to a press release. Friends of the Earth, 350.org, Bank Information Center and Oxfam Bangladesh were four among the signatories of the petition.
In the letter, the petitioners suggested the prime minister to revoke all subsidies and tax exemptions offered for coal and other fossil fuels.
They also argued for "providing adequate subsidies for home-based renewable energy systems to encourage households to initiate solar systems in urban areas in addition to those in rural households" and taking necessary actions to "install two-way electricity meters for energy consumers so that individual citizens can contribute to national power generation from captive renewable power systems".
The petition reads that fast-developing Bangladesh has planned to build around 29 coal power plants, along with hundreds of its furnace oil-, diesel-, and gas-based power plants, to meet its growing energy demand.
"But, scientists suggest these fossil fuel-based power plants could make the climate impact worse for Bangladesh as the coal power plants alone would emit 5.3 billion tonnes of carbon-di-oxide in their lifetime of 40 years," the letter also reads.
The petition mentions Bangladesh is among the most climate-vulnerable countries where hundreds of people die each year from natural disasters such as cyclones, drought, flood etc. This is also the first country that adopted a resolution in the parliament last year declaring climate change a "Planetary Emergency".
Referring to recent reports, the letter also reads Bangladesh currently has an over-capacity of electricity generation. As of April 2019, more than one-third of the total installed capacity remained idle.
According to the press release, the country's unused power reached 40 per cent in 2019. The state had to compensate at least $4.45 billion in the last 6 years and $1 billion in fiscal year 2018-19 as Capacity Charge for stranded assets of the Independent Power Producers.
The organisations raised deep concern on the duty exemption of coal power plants. "Value Added Tax of imported coal up to 2025 is being reduced by 10 per cent to cut the cost of electricity generated from coal power plants," they said.
According to Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement, Bangladesh is pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy use at 10 per cent by 2021. As of November 2019, Bangladesh met only four per cent of the target.
The petitioners mentioned Sheikh Hasina, recently elected the chairperson of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, is often vocal against the lack of commitment by developed nations towards climate action.
But her decision "to expand coal and other fossil fuel-based power plants are contradictory to her remark on the climate action and also against the nation's spirit of climate commitments".
The world bodies urged the premier to take necessary actions in limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement.
The petition was endorsed, among others, by:
1. Australian Marine Conservation Society; 2. Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt; 3. 4. Center for Environment and Participatory Research; 5. Centre for Environmental Justice; 6. Centre for Human Rights and Development; 7. Corporate Europe Observatory; 8. Digo Bikas Institute; 9. ECOTON; 10. Environics Trust; 11. Food First Information and Action Network; 12. Forest Peoples Programme; 13. Foundation for Environmental Management and Campaign against Poverty; 14. Freedom from Debt Coalition; 15. Frontera Water Protection Alliance; 16. Gender Action; 17. Global Rights, Nigeria; 18. Global Rights, USA; 19. Green Advocates International; 20. Housing and Land Rights Network, Habitat International Coalition; 21. Indian Social Action Forum; 22. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA; 23. International Rivers; 24. Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society; 25. KRuHA, Indonesia; 26. Life Haven (Center for Independent Living); 27. Philippine Movement for Climate Justice; 28. Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement; 29. Project Affected Peoples Association, India; 30. Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition; 31. Indonesian Fisherfolk Union; 32. Sri Lanka Nature Group; 33. UmeedeNoo; 34. We Women Lanka; 35. Woman Health Philippines; and 36. Za Zemiata/Friends of the Earth.