On 8 September British High Commissioner Robert W Gibson, French Chargé Babou Kamichetty and German Chargé Dr Ferdinand von Weyhe visited three climate adaptation projects in Dhamrai to highlight their joint climate diplomacy. They saw for themselves the impact climate change is already having here in Bangladesh and how some of its effects can be mitigated, and emphasised the importance of an international agreement to tackle climate change.
The projects visited were a solar home system for those without access to the national electricity grid, solar irrigation systems that provide an environmentally friendly solution to food security in Bangladesh’s agro-based economy, and a domestic biogas and manure national programme providing gas for cooking.
Mr Gibson said, “The projects we saw today, funded by the UK, Germany and others, are helping some of the most vulnerable people in Bangladesh to adapt to the impacts of climate change. That is one of the most serious threats Bangladesh, and indeed all countries, face. We must all be part of the solution and act on it now. Such a global issue needs a global response, with all countries working towards a legally binding international agreement under the UN framework. To this end the UK will continue to work with our German, French and other international partners, including the government of Bangladesh, as well as with civil society.”
Dr von Weyhe added, “Restricting global climate change is indeed a task for us all and the EU should lead the way. Our visit to Dhamrai today is a strong symbol of both our mutual co-operation on climate change and our desire to support Bangladesh and the Bangladeshi people to adapt to climate change in urban areas. Germany has been a driving force in international climate negotiations and pledges to continue that effort in order to support climate vulnerable countries like Bangladesh.”
Summing up Mr Kamichetty commented, “Climate change is of particularly crucial importance for Bangladesh. The French Development Agency was given a specific mandate to fund projects promoting green and inclusive growth, and France is working closely with the UK, Germany and other partners to address adaptation and mitigation in a co-ordinated manner. Climate change is a top priority for the French government at home and abroad, and France also has a specific responsibility as COP President. We stand ready to listen to all our partners, and are especially keen to work with our developing country partners such as Bangladesh. The coming months will be crucial to achieving a balanced global agreement in Paris in 2015; we hope that all countries will be represented at the highest possible level at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit this September, and encourage all countries to communicate their contribution to the new global agreement as soon as possible.”
Bangladesh is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. Floods, tropical cyclones, storm surges and droughts are likely to become more frequent and severe. These changes will threaten the achievements Bangladesh has made in reducing poverty and make it more difficult to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In partnership with the Bangladesh government and civil society, France, Germany and the UK are working together to address the impacts. In addition to alternative energy sources, we are helping communities to cope with the effects of climate change, for example developing climate resilient infrastructure like cyclone shelters and protecting cultivable land against monsoon flooding.
Solar Home System: this programme installs solar home systems in areas of Bangladesh not covered by the national electricity grid, providing households with electrical light after sunset as well as energy to charge mobile phones and watch television. The extra hours of light allow those who can work from home, such as by sewing, to earn extra money and provide added security. Each day the systems save about 1.2 million litres of kerosene (commonly used in lamps). German development co-operation, through KfW, is supporting 850,000 units and UK aid is funding 3 million 30 watt solar home systems. The programme is one of the fastest growing and most successful off-grid renewable energy programs in the world.
Solar Irrigation: solar irrigation systems are an innovative as well as environmentally friendly solution for the agro-based economy of Bangladesh, irrigating areas beyond the national electricity grid yet without using fossil fuel. Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) will fund 1,550 solar irrigation pumps by 2017, with support from UK aid through the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF), from German development co-operation and from other development organisations. So far 57 pumps have been installed, saving annually about 130,000 litres of diesel and reducing CO2 emissions by 30 tons.
National Domestic Biogas and Manure: this programme, run by IDCOL since 2006, is supported by Germany’s KfW, as well as SNV Netherlands Development Organization and now also the World Bank. It has installed over 31,000 biogas units so far. The biogas is used for cooking and has made a significant impact in both preventing local deforestation and reducing indoor pollution. The slurry, a by-product of biogas, is a good quality organic fertilizer.
British initiatives: the UK is committed to helping Bangladesh adapt to climate change and protect the lives and livelihoods of 15 million vulnerable Bangladeshis, increasing their resilience and improving their ability to respond and recover from natural disasters through improved early warning systems.
German initiatives: Germany funds several climate change projects in Bangladesh, with over €50 million already pledged. Adaptation to climate change in urban areas is a priority area. Germany’s main focus is to support Bangladesh in achieving climate change preparedness and assist the people of Bangladesh to cope with threats from global warming.
French initiatives: the French Development Agency (AFD) aims for 70% of its projects in Asia to have climate co-benefits. The Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport Project will save about 40,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year, and AFD is working on providing a more reliable and sustainable water supply while preventing further depletion of the groundwater table. It is also pursuing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. In co-ordination with EU partners, France will support in the autumn the dissemination of an environmental profile of Bangladesh prepared earlier this year, aiming towards joint donor engagement on environment and climate change in Bangladesh.
International agreement: the United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held at Le Bourget in Paris, France from 30 November to 11 December 2015. It will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 11) to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The conference objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.