Manju prioritises adaptation over mitigation

Bullying and the blame game will scuttle climate negotiations, Environment and Forest Minister Anwar Hossain Manju told the Dhaka Tribune’s Meer Saiful Islam in an exclusive interview. On the eve of COP21, he said climate change was a problem for all countries

How do you see the prospect of the upcoming climate negotiation in Paris?

Manju: Many heads of states will not go to the conference while many developed countries will try not to give money as required for mitigation and adaptation measures. Meanwhile, the leftists will try to foil the negotiations. China, India and Brazil have expressed their intention to take mitigation measures but not at the cost of their development. Countries like ours will try to express their vulnerabilities and seek money to intensify adaptation measures. The developed countries will try to make a point that if they have money, they will give us. On the other hand, we would be arguing: If I pollute the environment, you will be affected. The meeting of the heads of states with which the conference starts will hardly yield anything, but it will not fail either. The directives expected to emerge from the meeting would lead the negotiation in the second week towards a positive outcome.

Are you hopeful about a legally binding agreement?

Manju: The issue of legally binding agreement emerged as the Kyoto Protocol failed to serve in reducing carbon emission for a lack of ratification of the protocol by the developed countries like the USA, Canada and Japan. There are apprehensions that it would not be done, but I am hopeful about it as the biggest polluter, China, has come forward while the European Union is providing full support in favour of the agreement. On the other hand, countries like the USA, Canada and Japan are also facing serious climate change consequences as well as pressure from within to go for a solution.

What would be Bangladesh’s strategy to bring out results from the conference?

Manju: Our main strategy would be to place our points on the table and tell everybody humbly, modestly and politely that we are in distress. The target is to get money as much as possible. Our point will be that the environment is polluted due to your industrialisation, but we are the worst affected. We will not have the tactics to outsmart others. I want to tell them the stories of our people who suffer from the impact of climate change. So, the position is clear – give us the money. Keep patience and see what we can bring – the issue is to get the result. We will press for the legally binding agreement too.

Who are in the Bangladesh negotiation team?

Manju: I can’t say it clearly at this moment, but anybody included in the team must say something. Representatives from different ministries will also be in the team. As far as the climate negotiation is concerned, the image of Bangladesh has improved to some extent.

However, the representatives from civil society organisations, who have reputations in dealing with the climate change negotiation, are not in the team this year. But they will cooperate with the negotiation team to provide information and necessary advice.

How will Bangladesh try to get the Green Climate Fund?

Manju: Our main concern will be to press for increasing the fund for adaptation measures. The major contributors of the fund now want to give only 16% for adaptation and 84% for mitigation, which means the mitigation fund would be used in the developed countries. On the other hand, the vulnerable countries will get very little.

We have the institutional capacity and finalised projects ready to get the fund. What we need now is the fund. Yet, we will not approach like activists; we will rather try to convince them telling them about our distressed condition.

What do you think about the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) target that Bangladesh has submitted to the UNFCCC along with other countries?

Manju: Our target is to reduce the Green House Gas emission by 5% by 2030 and we will go further to reduce it by 15% if we are provided with adequate money and appropriate technology. But we made clear that it would not be done at the cost of our development. Countries offered the INDCs only to show good intentions.

Do you think that our plan of coal-based power generation will put us on the back foot in the negotiation?

Manju: Those who will criticise our plan are also using coal. We are lagging behind in terms of development. And we cannot reduce coal use at the cost of our development. Yet, we are establishing high-tech coal power plants that will help keep carbon emission at the lowest level.



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