Bangladesh is still the seventh most climate change vulnerable country, according to the Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2021 published on Monday by Germanwatch – a Berlin based non-profit environmental think tank.
The country was ranked in the same position in CRI 2020 as well.
The study looked at four indicators – number of total deaths, number of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, sum of losses in US dollars in purchasing power parity (PPP), and losses per unit of gross domestic products.
The CRI 2021 – based on an analysis of data of 20 years from 2000 to 2019 – says Bangladesh lost 11,450 people, suffered economic losses worth $3.72 billion and witnessed 185 extreme weather events during 2000-2019 due to climate change.
Apart from Bangladesh, the countries that have been placed on the list of 10 most affected are Puerto Rico (1), Myanmar (2), Haiti (3), the Philippines (4), Mozambique (5), The Bahamas (6), Pakistan (8), Thailand (9), and Nepal (10).
Germanwatch calculates both short- and long-term vulnerability. The short-term vulnerability index is made based on only one year's data and the long-term index is prepared on the basis of 20 years' data analysis.
Out of 10 most vulnerable countries listed on the long-term index, eight including Bangladesh are low or lower-middle income countries. Livelihoods of citizens of these countries depend on fewer assets.
In terms of economic losses, Bangladesh is ranked at the fifth position, which indicates the economy is consistently at risk from climate catastrophes, impacting human health, economy, agriculture and ecosystem.
Bangladesh is placed at the 13th position on the list of countries that faced most losses in 2019. For 2018, the country ranked the 88th position.
M Zakir Hossain Khan, senior programme manager (climate finance and governance) at the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), placed emphasis on community led resilience, household level resilience and youth engagement to get out of the vulnerable position.
"Both public and private investments made thus far are too low to reduce climate change related risks. We need investment worth $2.5 billion in adaptation but the investment is less than $0.5 billion.
"Besides, government investment in climate related projects cannot bring expected results due to corruption" he said.
"The intensity of extreme weather events has increased. To come out of the list of 10 most vulnerable countries, we have to increase community led resilience. Every household has to be protected from short and long-term effects. To make sure community led resilience and resilience at the household level, youth engagement has no alternative," he added.
"Unfortunately, we are far behind from these kinds of resilience approaches," he continued.
Germanwatch receives its data for annually calculating the Global Climate Risk Index from the NatCatSERVICE Database of the reinsurance company Munich Re, as well as the socio-economic data of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The think tank has been publishing this index annually since 2006.
The Index focused on extreme weather events such as storms, floods and heat waves but does not take into account important slow onset processes such as rising sea level, glacier melting, ocean warming and acidification.
This index indicates a level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme events, which countries should understand as a warning to be prepared for more frequent and severe events in future.
The other South Asian countries on the list of most affected include India (20), Srilanka (23), Bhutan (105), and the Maldives (174).
Why is Bangladesh down by 75 steps in 2019 compared to 2018?
In terms of yearly losses, the CRI 2021 has placed Bangladesh on the 13th spot on the list of countries most vulnerable in 2019, from 88th in 2018.
Zakir Hossain said, "Late effects of storms and other disasters like salinity and waterlogging in coastal areas along with early monsoon and late flooding in 2019 affected Bangladesh most. All these are the reasons behind this fall."
However, Mirza Shawkat Ali, director (Climate Change and International Convention) of the Directorate of Environment, said, "Germanwatch has possibly made some mistake on some parameters. Otherwise, there is no reason to go down to the 13th spot from 88th in a year."
Storm is a major factor
In the Climate Risk Index 2021, tropical cyclones caused six countries to be listed among the bottom 10 in the short-term index.
Bangladesh, in particular, was affected by cyclones Bulbul and Fani in 2019.
Cyclone Bulbul affected around 722,674 people in Satkhira, Khulna, Bhola, Bagerhat, Patuakhali, Barguna and Pirojpur districts. More than 108,000 houses and 117,000 hectares of cropland were damaged along with significant damages to several embankments. The cyclone also claimed nine lives, according to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.
The Need Assessment Working Group (NAWG) reports that the fisheries sector counted a loss of $5.5 million as some 11,223 hectares of ponds and ghers (fish farm) were affected. Meanwhile, the initial livestock damage was $285,000, it says.
On the other hand, around 4,589 trees in the Sundarbans were damaged by the cyclone, according to the Bangladesh Forest Department.
Besides, in May 2019, strong winds and tidal surges breached 32 kilometers of river embankments, creating localised inundations. Some 14 people lost their lives and 45 others sustained injuries due to lightning, falling trees and house collapses.
Initial estimates from the National Disaster Response Coordination Centre of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief indicate that approximately 53,000 acres of agricultural land and 13,000 houses were damaged across the country.
Noncompliance in NDC, BCCASP
In the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), an implementation roadmap, Bangladesh did not specify how much greenhouse gases (GHG) it will reduce in which sectors, although 31 December 2020 was the last date to submit the updated NDC.
In the NDC, Bangladesh committed to reduce GHG emissions in the power, industry and transport sectors by 5% (12 million ton) GHG emissions grossly by 2030 using only domestic resources, or by 15% (24million tonnes) if sufficient and appropriate support is received from developed countries.
The NDCs embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) that was published in 2009 for 10 years expired in 2019. But the government did not update the plan for next 10 years.
The BCCSAP demonstrates the country's commitment and understanding of climate change. It is a key document that reflects national priorities in terms of adaptation and mitigation.
Mirza Shawkat Ali said, "We did not finalise the sector-wise amount of carbon for reduction. Now we are including agriculture and waste with power, industry and transport. We are hopeful about submitting the NDC in six months.
"Work is on to update the BCCSAP. We are a little bit late due to Covid-19. We hope we will finalize this in 2021," he said.
"Local level consultation is going on to prepare a National Action Plan. This will be the finest NAP," he added.