In recent times, the world has become even more aware of climate change and the need to tackle this problem. With the withdrawal of the US from the Paris climate agreement, other countries are now trying even more to do what they can to minimise the effects of climate change.
One such way is to reduce the use of fossil fuel and embracing the clean energy revolution. Countries all over the world are now investing more and more in clean energy projects. Even China, which is famous for CO2 emissions, made headlines all over the world when its entire Qinghai province ran on 100% clean energy for a week.
Fighting the green fight
As a country which is highly affected by the impacts of climate change, Bangladesh knows a lot about the importance of combating climate change. Bangladesh often plays the key role in global climate change diplomacy.
We have earned wide praise for our effective climate change adaptation strategies. Our honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was declared the Champion of the Earth by UNEP for her contributions to environmental policy.
Bangladesh was one of the first countries to submit its pledge in the Paris COP21. Our government incorporates environmental considerations in all development plans including the national Five Year Plans.
But there is opportunity to do more.
More to do
While climate change experts in Bangladesh often focus on adaptation (measures aimed at fighting the impact of climate change), climate change mitigation (initiatives aimed to reduce acceleration of climate change) is often given very little emphasis.
According to the World Bank’s website, Bangladesh’s carbon emission (68,951kton) is among the lowest in the world. This presents us with a great opportunity. Currently, Bhutan is the only country in the world which is a carbon sink (they absorb more CO2 than they produce).
If we can carefully invest in our clean energy, and continue intensive forestation programs, we can transform our country into a carbon neutral country, or even a carbon sink.
Becoming an example of clean energy pioneer can be an important leverage for Bangladesh in the global diplomatic arena. In the world, where carbon emissions is a tradable material, having less emission will help Bangladesh sell our carbon credits to other countries -- contributing positively to our economy.
The renewable energy sector can be a good source of new jobs. A large number of people still live outside electricity coverage, mostly living in the remote parts of our country.
Investing in clean energy projects like solar and bio-gas will create jobs in those remote areas as well.
Luckily, Bangladesh is not new to the area of clean energy.
Although fossil fuel offers an easy and cheap solution, it should be kept in mind that environmental cost can be extremely high sometimes
All pros, no cons
It may be a surprise for many of us, but Bangladesh is one of the leading countries in the clean energy revolution.
The recently published “Renewables 2017 Global Status Report” found that Bangladesh has the highest number of Solar Home Systems (SHS) in the world.
It also found that jobs in the clean energy sector have also increased as has the use of bio-gas and clean cooking stoves. The government’s recent “Energy Efficiency Conservation Master Plan” also includes financial subsides, preferential taxation, and loans to promote renewable energy.
Many foreign donour agencies like USAID also support clean energy projects in Bangladesh.
As Bangladesh continues to develop, its energy needs will continue to grow.
Although fossil fuel offers an easy and cheap solution, it should be kept in mind that environmental cost can be extremely high sometimes.
As a country, which is so highly affected by climate change, taking the clean energy route is sensible for Bangladesh. The government has already made international promises in this regard.
In 2016 at COP22 Marrakech, Bangladesh joined in coalition with 47 other countries -- aspiring to go 100% renewable, with international support.
The government now has to put the policies in place to support that promise.
It has already been reported that the government may impose a carbon tax on the environment polluting sectors in the next fiscal year.
With all this, we can hope that Bangladesh will move towards the clean energy route.
Lam-ya Mostaque is a climate change researcher and a post-graduate from University of Dhaka.