Global climate, in which the world population lives, has been facing a great change in its pattern since mid-20th century, the reason of which is the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced mainly by the use of fossil fuels. It is the major threat to the world economy, to the Asian economy as well, wiping 1.6 per cent annually from world GDP which will rise even to 3.2 per cent by 2030. This poses a great threat to the world’s energy and food security.
The emissions of greenhouse gases are predominantly from high-income countries — top ten countries emit 68.62 per cent annually whereas low-income countries contributing the least to climate change are the most vulnerable to its adverse effects. China, the number one carbon emitter, produces about 10 billion tonnes every year while the United States of America, the second, emits around 5.2 billion tonnes. The International Energy Agency has continually urged industrialised countries to reduce fossil fuel subsidies. In the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Warsaw, Poland in 2013, several countries attending the Conference were criticised for poor performance on recommended environmental pollution targets. In the Paris Conference of Parties in 2015, it was also warned that the current loss of around 2 per cent Asian GDP will rise to around 9 per cent by 2100. It indicates South Asia will need to spend at least $73 billion every year to adapt to the negative impacts of climate change in the continent. Experts say a one-degree-Celsius rise in temperature is associated with 10 per cent productivity loss in farming.
For Bangladesh, it means losing about 4 million tonnes of food grain, amounting to about $2.5 billion with a further meaning of a total loss of about 3-4 per cent of the country’s GDP. This is essentially because of the constant sea-level rise which will quicken erosion and soil salinity. Consequently, a vast coastal area of more than 47,000 square kilometres, providing homes and sustenance to a rapid-growing population of around 36 million, will face an increasing number of natural calamities in the coming years. The huge area of the Sundarbans will go under the Bay of Bengal leaving Bangladesh in a totally wretched condition. Bangladesh currently has not more than 16 per cent forestland of its total area while it needs at least 25 per cent for a country to survive with a placid environment. Therefore, climate change will surely pose unbearable threats to the country.
Switching to low-carbon energy sources, such as wind power, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, or nuclear power might be one of the major strategies for lowering emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to avoid GDP losses. Greening urban areas can also make a difference. Introduction of more ‘green transport’ in the city to cut the impact of transport emissions might be another strategy. Above all, a concentrated effort is urgent tot fight the adverse climatic behaviours.