With the end of 2020, the commitment of countries for cutting emissions gained further momentum which the Paris Climate Agreement called the 'ratchet mechanism'. Countries need to submit NDCs (Nationally Determined Contribution) five years after outlining how much they had intended to reduce emissions. Each submission would be more ambitious than the last namely ratcheting up. So far 43 countries including the 27 member states of the EU met the deadline.
These nations had previously agreed to take measures and limit global warming to 1.5°C in Paris in 2015. Now after five years of the agreement, the countries have to renew and upgrade their NDCs as a part of the ratchet mechanism embedded in the agreement.The UNFCC will publish a report by 28 February, 2021, based on the NDCs in its registry as of 31 December, 2020. Additionally, the report will be updated with new information in COP26. We can all expect a ratcheting up of the efforts through the UN system.
Like other LDCs, Bangladesh submitted its NDC voluntarily by announcing its pledge to the UNFCC in three specific sectors, industry, transport and power (mainly electricity generation) before the Paris Agreement in 2015. Not only that, but Bangladesh is also closely following the case and has fulfilled its pledge for the revised NDC after five years of the first NDC in December 2020 which is an interim update of the NDC for which a study is going on. Bangladesh wanted to meet the deadline and thus requested all other countries to do the same.
The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, as the president of the Climate Vulnerable Forum(CVF) on behalf of the 48 countries most threatened by global climate change, underscored the importance of meeting this year's NDC deadline agreed in Paris five years ago. This is commonly termed as the midnight survival initiative for the climate which requires global emissions to be cut by 7.6 percent each year between now and 2030 to keep the 1.5 °C maximum global temperature rise within reach. So far we have seen seven countries submitting their new NDC, including the Marshall Islands, Surinam, Norway, Moldova, Japan, Singapore and Chile as per their commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Climate change vulnerability in Bangladesh is most visible now with more than 30 million people at the risk of displacement. Additionally, food, water and energy security need to be ensured to secure human survival. The NDCs established a transparent mechanism to help countries understand each other's situation and determine who should do what. Bangladesh is spending about $2 billion every year on addressing climate change issues, which is insufficient. We need to address our needs through adaptability. While a NDC is linked with mitigation, adaptation is an interlinked issue.
Bangladesh is committed to taking a progressive approach to developing its economy with a low carbon footprint where adaptability is key.
The responsibilities of the concerned ministries in this regard needs to be connected so that some qualitative changes can be brought. Resource mobilisation problems are very important in that respect. All the concerned ministries need to carry out gap analysis so that potential sectors which need support and policies required can be identified.
In its NDC, Bangladesh committed to reducing GHG emissions in the power, industry and transport sectors. The focus of the Paris Climate Agreement has now broadened with two new sectors which are Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use (AFOLU) and waste management. Bangladesh is in the process of preparing a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) which has got close ties to meeting the targets of NDCs.
It should be noted that Bangladesh voluntarily opted to do its part in the Paris Climate Agreement concerning global mitigation (Art 4.19) and adaptation Art 7.1). Climate change issues encompass socio-economic, poverty reduction, development, employment and SDG issues altogether. To formulate a national position, we need to look into the stakeholders engaged in sciences, economics, policy and politics. While climate change is a global issue, it needs to be addressed regionally and most importantly, nationally. There are policies, strategies and action plans such as the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP), the 8th Five-year plan, National Adaptation Plan(NAP) which are in the process and should play an integrated role to address climate change issues.
So far Bangladesh has been awarded five projects amounting to $351 million from the Green Climate Fund which is not enough. Additionally, BB Refinance Scheme for Environment Friendly Products/Initiative so far has allocated Tk4,773 million. Moreover, the Refinance Scheme for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions for Investment in Green Products/Initiatives also spent Tk16.26 million. Furthermore, the Green Transformation Fund (GTF) disbursement amounted to $85.79 million by September 2020. In the July-September, 2020 quarter, disbursement from this fund was $22.48 million only in the textile sector. Sectoral diversification following the Covid-19 pandemic is also important as we have noticed the export sector vulnerability resulting from the over-dependence on a single sector.
There are a number of linkage policies that could encourage the private sector to explore benefits out of it. The Industrial Policy 2021 is in the process that should address the steps to aligning its provisions of climate change strategies. The Ministry of Industries is in the meantime working on preparing a concept note on the NDC.
Solar power plants, solar cooking stoves, biogas, solar irrigation projects, wind power stations are some of the ideas proposed. Important sectors such as transport, logistics, agriculture, iron steel need to explore new strategies to be climate-resilient. Afforestation, green construction, lead certified RMG industries are a step in the right direction although we still have a long way to go. Experts and consortiums are doing an excellent job to raise awareness of the issues. However, creativity and technology along with financial support are the most obvious areas of improvement that need an integrated effort.
As a climate-vulnerable country, Bangladesh should keep the ratchet mechanism of the Paris Climate Agreement in mind while addressing climate change issues. Therefore, it needs to be more ambitious in ratcheting up so that climate vulnerability does not become a serious roadblock for future economic development.
Ferdaus Ara Begum is the CEO of BUILD, a public-private dialogue platform that works for private sector development