Bangladesh’s Emergence as Leading Power in Climate Diplomacy -Sauid Ahmed Khan


Diplomacy is the art of negotiation. It’s the foundation of an effective regime and international agreement. Diplomacy linked to other concerns like stability of a region or long-term aim of international stability. We have heard different types of diplomacy in different perspective for negotiation or conflict resolution between sovereign states like Gunboat diplomacy, Dollar Diplomacy, Economic Diplomacy, Public Diplomacy, Multi-track Diplomacy. In the last decade of twentieth century new dimension of diplomacy emerged as global emergence named after “Climate Diplomacy.” Climate diplomacy has become a daily necessary of all sectors of government.

Why Climate Change Matters:
Climate change is the major challenge and a defining issue of the 21st century. Greenhouse gas emission has increased global temperature, treating lives and livelihood around the world. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that, global temperature will increase between 1.8°C and 4°C by the last decade of this century. United Nations Security Council said, “Uncontrolled Climate Change poses a threat to international peace and security.” We negotiate about climate change, but we can’t negotiate with climate change.
Bangladesh is the 7th most vulnerable country for climate change. Bangladesh’s vulnerability to climate change is due to geographical location, hydro-metrological and various socio-economic factors. 2000-2019 Bangladesh lost 11,450 people, witnessed 185 extreme weather events and losses worth $3.72 billion dollar due to climate change (Climate Change Index Data 2021). Increasing rainfall, rising sea levels, tropical cyclones, salinity, drought, river erosion are the results of climate change that seriously affecting agriculture, water, food security, health and development. Bangladesh’s sea level rise has the potential risk nearly 30 million costal area living people. Sea levels in Bangladesh are predicted to rise by up to 0.30 meters by 2050 and by up to 0.74 meters by 2050. For sea level rise resulting in the displacement of 0.9 million by 2050 and 2.1 million people by 2100 (Environmental Research letters, 2018). Already, Bangladesh witnessed a loss of USD 3.72 billion dollars from 2009 to 2019 due to climate disasters and volatile weather conditions.

Where We Started:
Climate diplomacy emerged as a global diplomacy after the formation of The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) treaty on the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on June, 1992. Bangladesh signed the convention 0n June 9, 1992 and ratified on 15 April, 1994. Bangladesh is a signatory member of Kyoto Protocol 1997; which established legally binding to carbon emissions targets for industrialized countries and created initiative mechanisms to asset vulnerable countries. As a signatory member Bangladesh did not show notable success in climate change negotiation before 2008.

Perusing the Goals through Negotiation:
After hand over power, PM Sheikh Hasina adopted Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, 2009 by upgrading Building upon the National Adoption Programme of Action, 2005. Bangladesh is the first country in the world to setup its own Climate Trust Fund by $300 million by domestic resources from 2009-2012.Bangladesh government uses its experience with managing climate change impacts to shape and promote the international debate on “Loss and Damage” in support of its own interest (Third Generation Environmentalism, 2016). Bangladesh joined Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) in 2009 and become the president of this organization twice in 2014 and 2020. As a leader of CVF, Bangladesh played a vital role in negotiating with developing countries as to reduce of carbon emission in order to keep their pledges with raising voice about Bangladesh’s perspective in the climate change negotiation. Bangladesh demands for paying compensation to the climate vulnerable country as they are responsible for global warming in COP18 in Doha. COP21 summit in Paris is the remarkable event for Bangladesh’s climate change diplomacy. Bangladesh has mentioned as “Adaption capital of the world” in several seminars. Addressing climate change mitigation, set up Climate Change Trust Fund and promoting of Loss and Damage theory Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina awarded UN Champions of the Earth award 2015.
In CoP25 summit PM Sheikh Hasina said, “Our children will not forgive to us if we fail to ensure their future.” Climate Action (SDG-13) is one of the goal of SDGs. Bangladesh government has formulated a long-term goal named after “Delta Plan 2100” with three higher level goals and six specific goals. Bangladesh aimed to produce 40 giga-wat renewable energy within 2041. Recently Bangladesh scraps 10 coal-fired power plants. Bangladesh spends $5 million, about 2.5% of GDP on climate change adaption and resilience building. As the most vulnerable country, Bangladesh could negotiate for reducing greenhouse gas emission, enhancing or protecting the natural solutions and promoting Green Economy. On 9 April, 2021 US Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s sudden visit to Bangladesh; inviting PM Sheikh Hasina to participating in the “Leader’s Summit”, COP26 president Alok Sharma’s visit to Bangladesh is proved the significance of Bangladesh’s leadership. Bangladesh also proposes to establish a Fund for rehabilitation and reintegration for climate migrants in V20 summit, 2021 to protect the interest of climate vulnerable countries.
Success and Failure in COP26
After COP26 summit, BBC described PM Sheikh Hasina as “voice of vulnerable”. Though PM Sheikh Hasina praised as one of the most influential dealmakers in COP26 but some major issues still remain off track to avert a climate crisis. Analysts also concurred that the summit was a failure since it failed to meet the goals it set previously itself. UNEP expressed, “NDC plans for limiting global temperature rise by 2 degrees have already failed to reach the benchmark to avoid a climate catastrophe”. Delivering USD 100 billion climate fund to help vulnerable countries for adapting climate threats was not meet the goal in COP26 summit. Saleemul Huq expressed, “Climate summit logistics favored rich.’’ As CVF president Bangladesh played an important role to uphold Paris Agreement and committing countries to shifting Green Economy by reducing fossil fuel. But following the call of Sheikh Hasina, developing countries jointly propose of the “Glasgow Facility for Financing for Loss and Damage” and Glasgow Climate Emergency Agreement” were ignored by the United States led developed countries.

Too Far to Go:
To influence global leaders through Climate diplomacy Bangladesh, need some highly skilled diplomats and negotiators. As whole governmental approaches, Coordination of ministries like Ministry of Foreign affairs, Ministry of Environment Forrest and climate change, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Law is needed. Bangladesh’s climate diplomacy needs to take a whole-of-societal approach (Saleemul Huq, 2021). The future of Bangladesh’s climate diplomacy will depend on their bi-literal and multi-literal diplomatic approach, implementation of national policies, setting goals and coalition between Governmental, Non-Governmental and International Organizations. COP27 summit is another hope for Bangladesh’s climate diplomacy. We look ahead to COP27 summit in Egypt in November, 2022. Now let’s see, how far will go Bangladesh’s leadership in climate diplomacy.

The Author is a Student, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University Of Dhaka.