COP27 and evolving environmental geopolitics

Published : 25 Nov 2022 08:02 PM

Global environmental politics is in constant flux. Despite the repeated reassurance of the developed countries, the grandiose promises of the developed country are not translating to concrete action. As a result, the bid to attain a semblance of environmental justice is still far-fetched. 

In this context, the United Nations climate talks are being conducted in Egypt amid an array of interlocking global crises, such as the fallout of Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, escalating inflation, food, and energy crunch, and the specter of imminent global economic meltdown. 

Bangladesh remains one of the most susceptible countries to the adverse effects of climate change. The ramifications of climate change on the country are disproportionate to the responsibility of the country in precipitating climate change. Although Bangladesh accounts for 0.56 percent of global emissions, however, climate change inflicts a toll on the country. 

Bangladesh has made laudable strides in mitigating climate change steered by the prudent leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The government helmed by Sheikh Hasina is concentrating efforts to forestall the disastrous consequences induced by climate change. 

In recognition of her stewardship in the realm of climate change, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has garnered international plaudits. 

The prudence of Sheikh Hasina is evident as the country remains the first developing country to formulate a coordinated action plan in 2009 that has been termed as Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. furthermore, she had also mobilized approximately $300 million from domestic resources in the period of 20009-2012. Furthermore, the allotment of the country's annual budget for climate change adaptation accounts for seven percent of the country's annual budget. 

Bangladesh's incremental improvement in the arena of climate change adaptation remains exemplary for other countries in South Asia. The "Bangladesh model" can be emulated by other countries in formulating climate change policies. Climate resilience is mainstreamed in the national development programs of Bangladesh and sophisticated financial architecture underpins Bangladesh's national policy. 

Experts indicate that climate change will

 spur the largest mass migration in

 human history. An estimated rise of

 sea level by five-to-six feet is set to 

displace a whopping 50 million people

Bangladesh's climate vulnerability emanates from a confluence of a host of factors. The geographical locations of the country and its topographical attributes render Bangladesh distinctly susceptible to adverse climatic events. The coastal communities are grappling with the detrimental effects of climate change. The infiltration of salt in the water adversely impacts the health and livelihoods of the coastal populations. 

While the government has been successful in significantly reducing the loss of lives due to floods and cyclones, redressing the affected people with livelihoods poses an intricate policy dilemma. In this context, the projection of climate change paints a dismaying future, as World Bank projects that 20 million internal climate migrants will be generated by 2050, which accounts for 12% of the population. Experts indicate that climate change will spur the largest mass migration in human history. An estimated rise of sea level by five-to-six feet is set to displace a whopping 50 million people. 

Studies demonstrate that the GDP of Bangladesh is poised to significantly dwindle due to the threat arising from warming induced by a human. Besides, the average income will decline by 90 percent in 2100. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that the poverty rate in Bangladesh is set to escalate by 2030 owing to climate change. 

In this context, as there remain inadequate global efforts to counter climate security threats, thus uncertainty looms large. While Bangladesh had withstood the formidable threats, in the context of escalating international crises, this has become increasingly strenuous for the country to endure pressures as the adverse effects of climate change mount. 

Nonetheless, Bangladesh has mobilized and spearheaded other developing countries by leading the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and V20. Hence, Bangladesh champions the interests of climate-vulnerable countries. 

To redress the disproportionate impact of climate change on developing countries, climate finance is considered an effective mechanism. In this context, as the adverse effects of climate change has become perceptible and the climate risk is mounting, delivering $100 billion per annum to developing countries to foster adaptation and mitigation remains one of the cardinal agenda for developing countries like Bangladesh. 

Besides, despite the fervent speeches and grandiose statements by the global leader, the commitment of the developed countries to mitigating climate change rings hollow. While countries had pledged to slash their emissions by 45 percent in 2030 in comparison with 2010, however, the actions had been abysmal in the last year. In this context, low and lower-middle-income nations urgently need financial support to cushion the countries from climate vulnerabilities. 

While COP-26 marked a decisive breakthrough in terms of climate diplomacy, however, there remain considerable grievances among the developing nations regarding the lack of pledge of developing countries in facilitating adaptation and mitigation. Although developing countries are deemed as the most vulnerable to climatic change, however the lack of financing and logistics worsen the plight of these countries. In this context, the developing countries had been clamoring for a fund to assist in terms of adaptation and mitigation. In this context, the historic 'loss and damage' fund adopted at the COP27 climate summit remains a breakthrough in terms of climate negotiation, as consensus has been achieved to set up a compensation fund to facilitate the relatively poor nations in adapting to the impact of climate change.

However, the much of contentious issues had been deferred to the next year when a "transitional committee" is poised to offer recommendations regarding the adoption of the more comprehensive fund at the COP28 climate summit. The recommendations will explore the determination of the sources of funding and the diversification of sources of funding. Besides, this will also address the controversial question as to which country might bear the burden of the "loss and damage" fund.

The consensus that emerged from the COP27 constitutes a momentous event for Bangladesh. Since the country remains susceptible to adverse climatic effects, hence the climate funding is set to assist Bangladesh in the adoption and mitigation of climate change. Besides, Bangladesh had been at the forefront of the countries that had mobilized for the climate fund. Hence, the climate leadership of Bangladesh functioned as a catalyst in driving global consensus on the urgency of the global climate fund. However, much remains to be seen regarding the scope and contours of the funding scheme.

Moreover, the grand climate goals need to be supplemented by concrete actions by the developed countries to redress the historical injustices wrought against the developing countries through unplanned and rampant development. Thus, at this watershed moment when the climate shocks are palpable, the developed countries shouldn't renege on their pledges and should take effective measures to aid the developing countries in adaptation and mitigation.

Mehjabeen Maliha Hossan is an international affairs researcher and pursuing her doctoral studies at National University of Singapore (NUS). Her doctoral thesis concerns the international dimensions of Rohingya crisis.