2015 is when the new Climate Deal is anticipated to be signed by over 190 countries.
The deal is envisioned to hold the major economies accountable for the repercussions of their green house gas emissions directly caused by increased industrialisation and urbanisation over the last few decades. These gases build up in the atmosphere and warm the climate, leading to multiple changes in the atmosphere, land, and the oceans; ultimately resulting in frequent flooding, sea level rise, droughts, and other disasters.
Mitigation goals beyond 2015
While it is clear that future global emission targets will be largely determined by major economies such as the US, China, and India, the approach taken by progressive countries builds political momentum and puts pressure on these economies to take action.
Bangladesh is one of the smallest emitters, yet one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world. Despite limitations, it has consistently developed community-led solutions to adjust to the impacts of climate change, and has also offered political leadership to the Least Developed Country (LDC) group, at the ongoing climate change negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Under the Convention, countries across the globe have committed to a new international climate agreement by December 2015 at the Paris climate summit. As part of that commitment, countries agreed to publically announce what actions they intend to take well in time for them to be included in the Climate Deal.
These public announcements are now known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). They will largely dictate the level of commitment to the Deal and the ambition of countries to put the world on a low carbon, climate resilient future.
Decision-making transferred to Capitals
This means the responsibility now lies with the countries to develop ambitious and comprehensive INDCs; especially those who need to reduce their emissions by a significant amount.
The UNFCCC however, is coaxing countries to ensure that adequate plans of emission reductions are put in place to limit the average global surface temperature increase to 2°C over the pre-industrial average. Science indicates any amount above that can have devastating impacts. Once all INDCs are submitted latest by October 1, 2015, the UNFCCC will allow civil society, academics, and other countries to analyse impacts of these plans on global emissions in time for the climate deal in Paris.
Reflecting national level circumstances and capacities, the INDCs will be prepared in the spirit of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities, allowing for the fact that different countries are at different stages of development, technological maturity, and financial stability and therefore their contributions will vary accordingly.
Domestic process initiated by Bangladesh
Despite its status as an LDC, the prime minister at the UN Climate Summit (New York, September 2014) announced that Bangladesh is committed to developing an ambitious yet realistic INDC which will capture its national efforts on mitigation, while at the same time ensuring it does not hamper its growth trajectory either.
The Ministry of Environment and Forest, supported by Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) is taking the lead in initiating a domestic process of bringing stakeholders from across the government, private sector, and civil society together. The exercise is designed to understand how best to capture its current efforts to reduce emissions and efforts towards adapting to climate change that include mitigation co-benefits and build these into a national narrative as its contribution.
Bangladesh plans to submit its INDC by August 2015. Currently considering six sectors, energy, forestry, agriculture, waste, transport, and industry, the idea is to track the Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (Black Carbon, Methane, and others) that have a short lifespan within the atmosphere but has critical impacts on temperature increase which leads to climate change. Within the six sectors in Bangladesh, the energy sector has the most potential to reduce these emissions.
For its INDC, most of the calculations will be based on this sector. Using 2012 as the base year, the team will prepare a couple of scenarios (if Bangladesh were to reduce emissions by different amounts and its implications on development and economic growth in country), one of which will be selected through national consensus for submission to the UNFCCC.
Not only will Bangladesh set an example for other LDCs, but should force the real polluters to take note of their lack of serious commitment to solving a global problem primarily created by them where countries like Bangladesh are willing to be part of the solution despite its limited resources.
Kashmala Kakakhel is the Country Programme Manager – Bangladesh for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN).