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     Volume 2 Issue 144 | November 15 , 2009|


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Bangladesh Climate Camp 2009

Nuhash Humayun

BANGLADESH is gearing up to face a new challenge that is climate change. The Bangladesh Climate Camp 2009 is a testimony to true climate concern. Chief Executive of Participatory Research and Action Network (PRAN) Mr. Nurul Alam Masud gave the keynote address on the opening day, 22 October. He emphasized on active youth participation in Bangladesh and pointed climate change to be a natural phenomenon that was accelerated due to anthropogenic activities. He expressed deep concern for the agricultural laborers and the coastline dwellers.

The background of the Camp was made very clear. Local media was involved to echo the message far and wide. Applications poured in from all corners of the country. Climate crusaders outside the country also showed in a lot of interest. So the final list of participants consisted of representatives from 51 districts of Bangladesh and around six participants from neighboring countries as well as Europe- the total number being one hundred and twenty.

The evening of the first day of action was graced by eminent Member of Parliament and the Chairman of The All Peoples' Party on Climate Change and Environment Mr. Saber Hossen Chowdhury. The participants came up with the problems of their respective areas and wanted a solution to their woes. There was a volley of questions directed to him and he made a note of all the possible issues that arose and promised to start working on those. He felt that Climate change is a threat to all developing sectors. Our food security, national security and socio economic condition will see a significant drop down in the coming years.

Climate change and change in survival strategies questions the rights that human beings are to enjoy. With the advent of industrialization, the western countries have been shooting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They are primarily to be blamed for the unprecedented amount of CO2 in the air. So they are the main stakeholders of CO2 emissions. Developing countries like Bangladesh demand that they reduce their CO2 emissions so that atmosphere is stabilized. Newly liberated countries like Bangladesh should be given adequate time to march in the path of progress. They have the Right to Develop. If this right is infringed, there will be a massive amount of pressure that will be exerted on the Annex one countries.

On the second day there was a grand opening for the Camp. The guests being the same as the night before got a special chance to reinforce their points. Saber Hossen Chowdhury cited the example of Maldives- where the population is very thin amounting to nearly three lakhs of people. The Maldives Government is moving forward by buying lands in advance in different countries to that the climate refugees can be relocated and resettled. Maldives being a very low-lying country is especially threatened of submersion. This move cannot be replicated in Bangladesh.

The reason being the vast land area and population explosion. He also shared good news with the countrymen that are in order to combat climate change; a budget of 700 cores of taka has been earmarked. He requested all the people of the country to be under one banner and combat climate change. It is a global problem requiring a global solution.

The local Member of Parliament has pinned all his hopes on the media. He termed that as the First Estate. He requested them to use their pens as weapons to write something that will create a stir among the international negotiators. The Vice Chancellor of Noakhali Science and Technology University seemed to be clear in a radical demand. He wanted to be well compensated from the western countries.

After the inauguration, the participants broke into different groups. Some of these being cultural, debating, mobilization, media, photography and monitoring groups. The purpose off these factions is to involve self-tasking.

In order to have a sound knowledge of the hard science behind Climate Change, eminent scientist and IPCC co author Dr.Ahsan was called in. His presentation was extremely well informative. After giving the audience a basic understanding of climate change, he took Bangladesh as a case study. Littoral Bangladesh around the Sunderbans is marked as one of the most vulnerable areas. Rising sea level and salt water ingress destroying crops are its main problems. Erratic weather events and forced displacement is an alarming problem out there.

As evening descended, the campers demonstrated a candle march to the nearest Art and Culture Academy grounds. The participants sat in a unique mosaic. They wrote EU and with a mark of interrogation at the end. This was symbolic. It showed how the people of Bangladesh looked upto the European Union and have all their eyes set to the COP 15 Meeting in Copenhagen. Their fate waiting to be decided once and for all.

In the evening an economist namely Neelormi put forth issues of gender and climate change. She shared a few spine-chilling experiences where women are absolutely off guard when climate change struck them. They lose their habitat and loved ones. The psychological trauma and poor sanitary system in the shelters adds to their woes. There are no special arrangements for special needs like impregnated women or the physically challenged.

Scientists first observed the abnormal changes in the climatic condition in the 1980's. Heavy rainfall or no rainfall, cyclone and storm surges all appeared to have been occurring abnormally. The hottest year of 20th Century occurred in 1990's. Rise in 1°c mean temperature, which normally takes more than 1000 years, now seems to be occurring in one hundred years. Scientists found that hundreds of years of emission of Carbon dioxide, a product of burning fossil fuel, Coal, is the main cause. Besides Carbon emission, Methane emitted from rain-fed agriculture also triggers this abnormal temperature rise.US being the highest emitter refused to gratify the Kyoto Protocol. This stark reality was projected by Ziaul Haque Mukta.

Monetary compensation is not enough; technology transfer is also an integral part. He summoned the youth to give the clarion call for justice.

In the afternoon session Tapas Ranjan Chakraborty spoke at length on mitigating Climate change at a personal level. He said the three 'R's to be the mantra that is reduce, re use and recycle. He said energy conservation to be the topmost priority. He appealed to the participants to use the mass transport system in order to reduce their carbon footprint. The campers broke into several groups and threw light on different aspects of Climate Change mitigation.Later these issues were discussed and the session came to an end.

This session was succeeded by a session on the indigenous people and their role in nature conservation. The speaker of this session was eminent Biologist Pavel Partha. An Indegenous person has a knowledge treasure trove. Having stayed in the lap of nature since generations, they know the devices to conserve it. Till date they lead a zero carbon lifestyle. Pavel holds the MNCs in contempt. He shared how food habits can create carbon havoc. Italian delicacy Pizza for instance, which is on the global culinary map is extremely carbon intensive. So a little compromise can actually make a great head way.

The evening was big leap. A film titled “The Island” was screened. It was a Science fiction. Post dinner all of the participants gathered on the terrace to make merry. The air was light. Climate Change and its imminent mayhem were not to be seen. Fun and frolic was omnipresent.

On the last day a collective signature pledge was handed over to the District Magistrate so as to urge upon the Government to take appropriate action to reduce carbon emission where ever possible to combat climate change and ensure security of life and livelihood.

(The writer is the organizer, Bangladesh Climate Camp 2009)


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