B'ladesh seeks bn to fight climate change | world | Hindustan Times
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B'ladesh seeks bn to fight climate change

world Updated: Sep 07, 2008 08:55 IST

Bangladesh wants rich nations to pay the billions of dollars it says it needs to help fight the effects of climate change because they are the biggest environmental culprits.

The impoverished South Asian nation, one of the world's lowest emitters of greenhouse gases, will highlight its plight to the British government and other international donors in London on September 10.

Bangladesh environment secretary AHM Rezaul Kabir told AFP that a study by the World Bank, leading donors and the Bangladeshi government had found the country urgently needed huge amounts of money to ensure its survival.

"We need at least four billion dollars at least by 2020 to build dams, cyclone shelters, plant trees along the coast and build infrastructure and capacities to adapt to increasing number of natural disasters," Kabir said.

Environmental experts say Bangladesh is experiencing more rainfall, flooding and droughts, as well as cyclones as a direct result of climate change.

Last year widespread flooding and a devastating cyclone caused crop and infrastructure damage worth 2.8 billion dollars -- around four percent of Bangladesh's gross domestic product - according to a World Bank study.

"We hope Western countries will grant the money as compensation for being the biggest carbon emitters," Kabir said. "They are responsible for our woes and the increasing number of the disasters that befall on us."

"In London, we will show where we are vulnerable and present our strategy to fight the greater number of floods, cyclones, a rise in sea levels crop losses," he said.

Bangladesh's army-backed authorities this year launched a 44-million-dollar fund dedicated solely to fighting the problems that the country faces as a result of climate change.

The Nobel Prize winning United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts rising sea levels will devour 17 percent of Bangladesh's total land mass by 2050, leaving at least 20 million people homeless.

James Hansen, director of the US-based NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, paints an even grimmer picture, forecasting the entire nation will be under water by the end of the century.

One of Bangladesh's leading environment scientists, Atiq Rahman -- a co-author of the IPCC report -- believes money is not enough and rich countries should feel obliged to offer assistance.

"We are facing devastating disasters, which are occurring through no fault of our own. The world should not stay indifferent while Bangladesh goes under the sea," he said.

Rahman said the Bangladeshi government had launched an aggressive battle to fight climate challenges, but it should have started many years earlier.

He said it was not too late but the country needed a lot of support -- including funding and technical expertise -- from the global community.

"We especially need help from those rich nations whose carbon emissions have created the problems -- and they should also be prepared to open their doors to the millions of Bangladeshis who will become climate refugees."