photo: Matthew McDermott
Friday outside the United Nations in New York, members of the Bangladesh Environment Network and approximately 50 supporters rallied and delivered a message addressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, making the case that climate change puts the very future of Bangladesh into question, something made all the more poignant because historically and currently the low-lying South Asian nation has done virtually nothing to contribute to the causes of climate change:Specifically, rally participants and supporters of BEN made the following demands (among others):
Adopt 350ppm as the stabilization goal Rather than higher stabilization goals for atmospheric CO2 such as 450ppm, BEN urged negotiators at the upcoming COP15 talks to adopt 350ppm as an official target in order to ensure that global temperature rise stays below 2°C.
Furthermore, developed nations needs to take the lead, make stronger emission cuts than have been so far put forward.
Greater climate change assistance Developed countries need to provide Bangladesh with greater financial and technical assistance in mitigating and adapting to climate change, as well as enabling low-carbon growth.
One of the key talking points of the rally was that Bangladesh wants solar power not coal power as it attempts to bring electricity to the 70% of its population which currently lives without regular access to electric power.
Provide Immigration Rights for Climate Refugees Developed nations should provide immigration rights to climate refugees, both from Bangladesh and other "climate change frontier" countries, whose lives will be threatened by climate change.
Assistance for Rejuvenation of the River System One of the key points made in terms of climate change mitigation is greater financial assistance to help preserve and rejuvenate Bangladesh's river system, stabilize flow across seasons, and protect the coasts from tidal bores and rising sea levels.
Where is the Support for Bangladesh?
Switching from reporter to commenter: The thing that really struck me about the rally was not the message or demands themselves. Both have been said on numerous occasions over the past year, seemingly continually falling on deaf ears. The big thing was that the message has to be repeated over and over.
Here's a nation who really is as blameless as anyone in terms of climate change impact -- Bangladesh accounts for only 0.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions; its per capita emissions are less than half a ton per year; the average electricity consumption in the country 154 kWh per year (most people in the US consume over five times as much in a month!) -- yet it will be one of the first and most affected. And their cries seem to go entirely unheard.
Even at a rally at the UN it seemed the plea for help was more often than not drowned out by passing cars and trucks.
More info: Bangladesh Environment Network
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