Skip to main content

फ़ेस् फ़ीयर् विथौत् फ़ीयर्

"Fear the threat until it comes. When it comes, turn and face it without fear." Sanskrit.

In no uncertain terms, officials and scientists representing Bangladesh at the Cancun talks made it clear yesterday that their country, which unabashedly occupies Ground Zero in the climate wars, is fearless and righteously proud in its determination to save itself by ensuring it receives an equitable share of fast track financing to assist developing countries in adapting to climate change.

"Loans are not an option for my country," said Bangladesh Minister of State for the Environment Dr. Hasan Mahmud. "We did nothing to create this problem and we should not be charged in solving it."

Unless something is done now, chances are in less than 40 years you will look at the map and Bangladesh will no longer be there. What will remain of this country will not be recognizable.

The true face of climate change. A woman from Bangladesh awaits the beginning of Wednesday's panel. Photo by Deborah Phelan

Reality: Climate Change will Change the Face of the World

Bangladesh. The first country to submit its National Adaptation Plan (NAPA) in 2005. Designer of the exemplary 2008 Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP). Successful funding and the completion of numerous major adaption projects set a high standard for other developing countries to evaluate their plans for resilience, capacity building and disaster management. On the front line of mass climate related migrations.

Members of Wednesday's panel prepare presentations. Photo by Deborah Phelan

Unless action is taken quickly, by the end of the century, more than a quarter of the country will be inundated by water, resulting in the permanent displacement of some 15 million Bangladesh people. That is the equivalent of the combined current populations of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Raising the penultimate question that nobody wants to talk about, nobody even wants to think about: Exactly what is the estimated cost for Bangladesh to adequately adapt to climate change? How about $10 billion over a five year period!

So where oh where is that money going to come from?

Come on in. Take a look. Digest. Discuss. I double dare you. A word of warning: This journey is not for the faint of heart.

Accompanying us are some prescient words from the masterpiece of English poet T.S. Eliot: The Four Quartets.

How long could you survive without access to clean air underwater? Greenpeace shuttled members out to sea to participate in an extraordinary chilling yet beautiful symbolic action.

Let's dive in. But remember. Real people cannot live under water.

I. FACTS: Reality on the Ground

Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Burnt Norton, I

Military experts in the United States and Europe support the estimate that by mid century, climate change will make vast parts of Africa and Asia uninhabitable. Analysts say it could trigger a migration the size of which the world has never before seen.

250 million people—a population almost that of the entire United States—could be on the move by 2050. They will go because temperatures are rising and desertification has set in where rainfall is needed most. They will go because more potent monsoons are making flood-prone areas worse. They will go because of other water events caused by melting glaciers, rising seas and the slow and deadly seepage of saline water into their wells and fields.

The worst migration cases will be nations like the Maldives and small islands in the Pacific. Their inhabitants will go because their homelands will likely sink beneath the rising sea.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a minimum of 207 million people in Latin America, Asia and Africa will not have enough water inside a decade. In Asia, an extra 130 million people will be at risk of hunger by the middle of the century. By 2100, crop revenues in Africa will drop 90 percent. And scientists see Bangladesh as ground zero. Bangladesh: At the mercy of climate change

Reproductions of the some of the most recognizable monuments from around the world were planted in sea. The result is a striking image of some of our most beloved statues, temples and iconic buildings half submerged in water. A symbolic action to remind governments that the rising tide of climate impacts, be they economic, environmental or humanitarian will affect each and every one of us  – rich and poor if leaders don't make the choice in Cancun to take immediate action to combat climate change. Here is the latest update on the current state of play at COP 16 link

Facts: Bangladesh

• Located 5 meters above sea level
• Flat deltaic flod plain with high ppoulation density (over 1000 per sq. km)
• Coastal zone vulnerability exists along the entire coastal belt
• Mainly rural
• Cropping pattern is directly influenced by climatic trends and weather patern.
• 50% of the population are employed in the agricultural sector


II. Climate Change: Impacts and Actions

What is the late November doing
With the disturbance of the spring
And creatures of the summer heat,
And snowdrops writhing under feet
And hollyhocks that aim too high
Red into grey and tumble down
Late roses filled with early snow?
Thunder rolled by the rolling stars
Simulates triumphal cars
Deployed in constellated wars
Scorpion fights against the Sun
Until the Sun and Moon go down
Comets weep and Leonids fly
Hunt the heavens and the plains
Whirled in a vortex that shall bring
The world to that destructive fire
Which burns before the ice-cap reigns.
East Coker, II

A woman from Bangladesh talks climate change with USAID representative. Photo by Deborah Phelan

FACTS: Bangladesh and Adaptations

Short and medium term adaption project are high priorities in Bangladesh, a prime example of a severely climate vulnerable country which is ideally suited for projects which link climate adaptation to sustainable development. In fact, since the Bali Accord, Bangladesh has been building resilience to global warming and climate change concerns into its development planning.

FACTS: Bangladesh's Vulnerabilities

• Substantial increases in urban floods
• A seawater increase of 1 meter will inundated 19% of the country’s land, displacing 30 million people
• every year at lest 25% of land is flooded because of increased glacier melting and intense and erratic rainfall
• Desertification is increasing in the north due to salinization
• Rice and wheat production could reduce from current loss of 8% to 32% by 2050
• Significant increases in human health problems, including malnutrition, food insecurity, and the spread of infectious diseases

Bangladesh panelists not quite in focus  Maybe that's a good thing. You can't see the expression in their eyes. Photo by Deborah Phelan

The LDCs are in agreement that adaptation needs are urgent and immediate. The $100 billion in fast track funding should reflect at least a 50/50 split between mitigation and adaptation. Adaption needs to be evaluated in the long term process as well.

The Bangladesh government emphasizes:

• water management and a basin-wise drainage and development programme
• careful forest resource management; protection of flora and fauna species
• control of polluting chemicals in agricultural development
• restraint on air pollution by transport and power sectors
• adoption of environmental protection in urbanization plan
• regional and global cooperation for protection of the environment and mitigation of climate changes.

Additionally, an official government committee is considering an amendment to include the environment more relevantly in the Constitution and has already created a climate change trust fund.

FACTS: Bangladesh adaption projects to date

• 400 km of flood protection embankments
• irrigation facilities cover about 2/3 of country
• early warning systems for floods and cyclones
• A separate minister on disaster management and food
• A comprehensive plan for disaster risk reduction
• 3200 cyclone shelters
• 42,000 cyclone preparedness volunteers
• massive plan for dredging
• Investment of close to $200 million in adaptation projects

"...Climate resilience will require very deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by the "Annex-1 parties",polluting chemicals in agricultural development, restraint on air pollution by transport and power sectors, adoption of environmental protection in urbanization plan and above all in regional and global cooperation for protection of the environment and mitigation of climate changes."BCCSAP, 2009.

III. Bangladesh and COP16

I think that the river
Is a strong brown god - sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
The only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities - ever, however, implacable.
Keeping his seasons, and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.
Dry Salvages, I

FACTS: Climate Action Needs

• Global community pledge to reach GHG below 2 degree target to 1.5
• A legally binding climate change deal
• Immediate action on fast start finance
• Preferential treatment for fast track funding
• Support towards capacity building, water security, health security, and renewable energy


Justin Huggler reports from the Sundarbans nature reserve

The Sundarbans nature reserve in Bangladesh's south-west is one of the last untouched places on Earth - and home to the largest population of tigers left in the wild. But the trees in the Sundarbans have suddenly started dying. And not just that: they have started dying in a way nobody has seen before, from the top down.

Nobody is sure what the cause is, but the country's leading scientists think the trees are dying because, in recent years, the water has turned from fresh to salty. The Sundarbans is a massive mangrove swamp, and the sea has begun encroaching. What we are seeing may be one of the first casualties of rising sea levels caused by global warming. "Nobody can say for sure whether it is climate change because there haven't been proper in-depth studies," says Professor Ainun Nishat, one of the country's leading environmentalists, and one of those involved in the UN's recent climate change report. "But this is the sort of effect rising sea levels will have on Bangladesh. We are fighting climate change on the front line. But the battle has to be integrated across all countries."

Climate Change and the Millennium Development Goals

IV. Green Climate Fund? Off the table

There are flood and drought
Over the eyes and in the mouth,
Dead water and dead sand
Contending for the upper hand.
The parched eviscerate soil
Gapes at the vanity of toil,
Laughs without mirth.
        This is the death of earth.
Little Gidding, II

Bangladesh is not interested in loans or market based solutions to adaptation or mitigation. But hopes expired Wednesday as negotiators pushed back the concept of a climate fund for another year, a major disappointment as the fund was one of the only promises made last year in Copenhagen, and was viewed as a sustainable source of financial support to developing countries as they adapt to climate change and reduce their own carbon pollution.

Equally as troubling are the discussions on how to increase the weak emissions reductions pledges originally made last year by industrialized countries. Scientists have repeatedly warned that the pledges are completely inadequate to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees C or less. The difference between how much we need to reduce emissions by and the pledges currently on the table is known as the "gigatonne gap". You may have heard of it before.  Sounds like an inconceivable number? Well that's just how far away we are from where we need to be but those countries with the weakest targets of all, USA, Canada and Russia, are not even willing to acknowledge this gap.

You might think that the EU is much better when it comes to addressing the gigatonne gap. They are happy to acknowledge its existence but when it comes to acting on it, the EU refuses to even shift its target up to 30% by 2020 (at 1990 levels) to address the problem. Australia is in a similar position, also acknowledging the gap but refusing to increase its target. So we have countries that refuse to acknowledge the problem and others that admit we have a big problem but none of them are willing to take action to make sure we close the gap! read more of Jess Miller at Greenpeace


Bangladesh's women are a key component of the country's delegation. Women represent over 50% of the world's population, and gender has emerged as a key component of future negotiations. Photo by Deborah Phelan

"We cannot leave climate solutions to the financial sector," said Dr Mahmud, "not when the financial crisis was created by the private sector."

Campaigners are furious that the World Bank is being promoted as the hub for climate finance. They insist that because the institution continues to bankroll dirty fossil fuel projects, to the tune of $6.6 billion last year alone, the funds to fight climate change are in the wrong hands. They also cite the Bank’s recent history of imposing climate finance as loans, creating new debt for already impoverished countries, increasing the role of the private sector and imposing economic policy conditions that increase inequality." Bing Gong, who embedded during the conference with IFGs Victor Menotti.

"If you are looking for innovation in finance, I personally have an extremely innovative idea for finance.  Lets start by looking at the $1.5 trillion military expenditures of the world's leading military countries. Last year, military costs rose by 7%. That represents $70 billion. A fine start for adaptation!"

Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Chair of the All Party Group on Climate Change and Environment of the Bangladesh Parliament, said talks with scientists Tuesday confirmed that even with the rapid implementation of current best practices, we are currently facing an increase in global temperatures of close to 4 degrees. That number, without drastic and immediate action, could rise to 6 degrees.

"I shudder to think of the consequences," he said.

And with that, the meeting was adjourned.

Like I said, this wasn't easy. Thanks for hanging in there.

Isn't she something? Isn't she lovely? Isn't she beautiful? Isn't she amazing? Photo by Deborah Phelan

Link to UNFCCC 'speak' glossary

DailyCanun Team Coverage

Daily Kos DailyCancunteam
WiserCop16: WiserEarth coverage
James Grayson on Another climate summit missing the most important agenda item - why isn't this working?
Tenney Naumer, Climate Change, The Next Generation
Video Coverage by DailyCanun member,  EON Channel and daily reports and images Bing Gong
Stay tuned for reports from Osprey Orielle-Lake and Polly Higgins

Originally posted to boatsie on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 06:47 PM PST.

Also republished by Deborah Phelan.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  catch any typos, grammer can u let me know? (6+ / 0-)

    its really hard to be your own editor! (specially with a fever and ear infection:)

    What did you do when you knew? boatsie

    by boatsie on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:01:12 PM PST

  •  Beautiful and terrible (4+ / 0-)

    Your diary and the truth it contains.

    thanks for all your work (and I hope you feel better)

    "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

    by matching mole on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:07:13 PM PST

    •  1.5 more days ... hopefully. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      huge actions planned for tomorrow but im collecting comments from my sources for my finale real time diary. After that its the truth behind financing! And why the carbon fund failed. As if we dont know!

      What did you do when you knew? boatsie

      by boatsie on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 09:26:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Honestly speaking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        After so much progress was made the first week I'm now pretty doubful the main agenda issues (verses a climate deal which was out of the question) will be easily resolved.

        Things seemed to have beeen going well until Japan dropped the Kyoto bomb at the weekend, which seems to have derailed progress in much the same way as the Daisih Proposal did at Copenhagen.

        Of course, the pressure in now on and I really hope for the best outcome at this point, but the subject of your diary illustrates just how difficult these negotiations are and how self-interest on the part of wealthy countries creates political barries to agreements. Even on this issue, the EU, which I have say has tried to advance things this year, has fallen short with the assistance on loans - which which cannot work for destitute nations.

        Thanks for your good work and effort.


        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 11:30:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  mood definitely somber here. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          What did you do when you knew? boatsie

          by boatsie on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 11:31:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  who would you nomiate as hero? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            the country that tried the hardest? Im with india

            What did you do when you knew? boatsie

            by boatsie on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 11:32:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Very difficult question !!! (0+ / 0-)

              India would be up there because they found themselves in a facillitator's role and have done a good job as an honest broker.

              I give the EU some marks for trying harder and coming down from their pededstal, for indicating a willingness to make deeper commitments of carbon cuts, they were the only party to come to the table with a substantial reduction (nt that it got far).

              China deserves some credit for moderating their position on verification '(and working with India to hash that out at/after Tianjin) which was a major stumbling block and fo standing firm on Kyoto, which is really an importiant position to take until and unless something better replaces it, particularly since Japan did the US biding on this.

              I'm even going to give some credit to the US and possibly my least favorite person involved, Todd Stern, for also begining to moderate their position and for taking a less combative approach (really, he can be worse) and conceeding a little bit of ground. I realize the US has no basis for negotiation at this point and it was good to see some recognition of that fact - very importiant party, but not the only one in the room this time.

              But maybe the most credit should go to the collection of little guys who got up their guts to speak-up and stake their positions so they coult be heard.

              It is all well and good for India or China to go to bat for them, but they cannot, ultimately represnt them because they have different interests.

              I would also credit the BGOs for taking a mre productive and less combative role, I think COP15 was an object lesson for everyone, inside and outside the walls.

              Who is going to get bashed is Japan, and I want to say they don't deserve it. They are also trying to crash a gate, but I'm afraid they are doing so without a safety net on the other side so it's a bit questionable from the tactical viewpoint.

              However, before people jump on them they sould realize Japan always meet their commitments and pays their bills, and is the ONLY developed country that has met their funding commitments from COP15 so far - ONLY ONE.

              What about my Daughter's future?

              by koNko on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 02:27:41 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Stiff Upper Lip (0+ / 0-)

            Hang in there. Regadless of the outcome some progress has been made and (ever the persistnt optimist) I think a framework will eventually be reached by South Africa.

            Whatever that is, will not be enough to get to 350ppm, I'm very sure of that, but what I would hope for is:

            :: Funding and technical assistance underdeveloped nations
            :: Agreements for technological and scientifc cooperation
            :: Some form of accountabilty, preferably by a reasonably objetive proptocol by a UN backed body
            :: Commited targets for CO2 reduction by develped nations and caps by developing nations

            The UN cannot do everything, it never has and never will because at best, it is as good as the nations that use it produtively and the good work (which is a lot) that is funded, and no better. The world is better for it but it alone cannot change the world, nations and people have to be motivated and do things with their own hands and that's how things get done.

            I expect in the next 5 years or so as the impacts of AGW become more obvious and as those who take it seriously make successful examples, others will follow, but every day, time is lost.

            It may seem strange to say this, but I do feel COP16 was a big step foreward from COP15 in one importiant respet.

            At COP15 a Gate was crashed. At COP16, it stayed rashed, was crasged some more, and in a good way, there has been a loss of innocence about the process that is ultimately good if people stand-up for their interests and fight it out because in the past, leadership from rich developed nations dominated the process and they cannot really represent everyone no matter how idealistic they approach it or think they are.

            We need to drop the facades and face the truth and that gets messy.

            Well, get some sleep and go at it again.

            TKAE CARE!

            What about my Daughter's future?

            by koNko on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 02:03:27 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  My heart aches for those in Bangladesh (5+ / 0-)

    Who watch helplessly as their country dies, by no fault of their own.

    We (rich, polluting countries) are committing the greatest moral injustice in the history of mankind.

  •  Incredible and moving (5+ / 0-)

    Wow, boatsie... thank you for bringing a cohesive look to the problem and the process, and the necessary actions to save countries like Bangladesh. This is an excellent resource, I'll link to it in my next post.

  •  Beautiful diary, boatsie. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boatsie, WarrenS, matching mole, citisven

    Love the poetry and the way you organized your thoughts.  The president of the Maldives isn't kidding around.  He knows the outcome.

    Thank you.

    "Never, desist till we ... extinguish this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, will scarce believe that it suffered a disgrace and dishonor to this country.

    by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:40:10 PM PST

  •  Thank you for this. (4+ / 0-)

    Too tired to do more than nod silently and sorrowfully.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:40:29 PM PST

  •  Moving (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boatsie, princesspat

    Talk of Ground Zero. This is it. What a powerful diary, and it's drowning. As LP said yesterday, "while you were arguing about taxes..."

  •  thanks everyone . it is so painful (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citisven, princesspat

    i am just now downloading my images to see how they are. i may have mentioned somewhere yesterday how full the room was with people from LDCs, more than i ever saw before. and the faces on those on the panel? I don't have the words to express what they reflect ... deep knowledge, wisdom, incredulity, resolve, horror, passion, pride, terror ... impossible but yes, all at once.

    and the people in attendance. The BEST part of the Q&A that there were only 3 questions accepted... and the 3 of us unknowingly were sitting in 2nd row one person apart.

    AND we all asked about the WB and transparency and carbon derivatives to the representatie of the UK and USAID. Pointed questions which literally made the UK guy squirm in his chair -- he also remembered me from last week session on climate with Oxfam.

    It was truly amazing! The three of us post event fist bumped and people were cheering!

    What did you do when you knew? boatsie

    by boatsie on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 08:20:31 PM PST

  •  Thank you boatsie..... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Your reporting is tireless....and so interesting. I have trouble absorbing the reality of it all.....

    Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

    by princesspat on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 10:07:47 PM PST

  •  oxfam climate tribunal on Bangladesh 1of2 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What did you do when you knew? boatsie

    by boatsie on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 10:15:40 PM PST

  •  I'd say they have a case (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    I made this chart before COP15 to illustrate the difference between a deterministically selected (by me) group of countries representing the geopolital status quo of emissions. I didn't include Bangladesh, but their emissions are between those of Palestine and Cote d" Ivoire on the chart, so draw your own conclusions, folks.


    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 11:02:07 PM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site