Commonly, it’s thought that developing countries bear a large portion of the blame for climate change. This study shows that the biggest climate offenders are in fact the richest countries in the world, while low and middle income countries suffer from the effects.
Starting midway in the last decade (2000-2009), several developed nations started raising the bogey of ’emerging economies’ bearing part of the responsibility [for climate change]. This was clearly and knowingly ignoring the fact that none of the emerging economies – including the wealthiest and the largest emitter, China – have historical emissions anywhere even comparable to the rich nations. This was also a violation of the agreed Kyoto principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, based on respective capabilities, and the fact that the biggest of these emerging economies are still inhabited by a disproportionately large percentage of very poor people, who are at the front-line of climate impacts.
The geophysical situation of Bangladesh has made the country critically sensitive to climate change. With a population density of 988 people per square kilometer, making it the 12th most densely populated country in the world, it faces unique challenges and threats. Eighty percent of its area consists of floodplains created by more than 300 rivers and channels, including three major rivers: the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Meghna. Bangladesh forms only a small part of a large regional hydrologic system—less than 10 percent of the river basin falls within the national territory. Its southern part is nestled in the Bay of Bengal with a 710 km long coastal belt that is home to nearly 35 million people. Bangladesh’s geographical position and very high population density makes it extremely vulnerable to natural disasters including floods, droughts, and cyclones. Global climate change has increased these vulnerabilities manifold.
Being one of the most critically sensitive countries to climate change, it has been a prominent recipient of climate finance, albeit with a cost. With the failure of climate talks at Cancun, the role of the World Bank as manager of funds for climate change adaptation and resilience funds has emerged. Coincidently, this happened at a time when the Bank was adapting itself to the changed geopolitics of financing and grappling to reinstate its dominance among developing economies. Considering Bangladesh’s recently ended political crisis, weak economic condition, challenges of a huge population, lack of resources and now the onslaught of climate change, very little option is left but to accept these climate funds of which most are managed by the Bank.A Briefing Note: World Bank, Climate Finance, and Bangladesh, by Soumya Dutta, Anuradha Munshi, Pragya Khanna, Joe Athialy and Bank Information Center, December 2011