BANGLADESH is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change impact. It is assumed that regular and severe natural hazards that batter the country — tropical cyclones, river erosion, flood, landslide and drought — are all set to increase in intensity and frequency as a result of climate change. Unplanned and excessive dependency on fossil fuel will further exacerbate the situation. It is in this context that some grass-roots farmers on Thursday, as New Age reported on Saturday, stressed the need for an immediate policy shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy-based agriculture. A collective initiative for participatory research, Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge, organised the programme at Tanore in Rajshahi. The government officials, environmental and renewable energy experts present also echoed the farmers’ opinion and said that it is high time for Bangladesh to transform the existing electricity-based irrigation system to solar power-based to lessen the mounting pressure on electricity in the vast Barind tract. As their opinion is informed by grass-root experience, the government should seriously consider their proposition in planning agricultural as well as energies policies for the Barind area.
The government in its initiatives have encouraged and created financing opportunities for biogas and solar power projects such as the Bangladesh Bank’s green banking programme. It has also prepared a renewable energy policy and has undertaken various action plans with the target of generating 5 per cent and 10 per cent of total power production by 2015 and 2020 respectively. Besides, the government has initiated setting up of a sustainable and renewable energy development authority and has also finalised the Sustainable Energy Development Act 2011. Most recently, the cabinet, as reported in New Age on August 22, has decided to ratify a framework agreement to become a member of the International Solar Alliance that aims at efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The international alliance is a multilateral agreement that will enable the signatory countries to do research, low-cost financing and popularisation of solar as clean energy sources, particularly in solar resource-rich member countries. Therefore, the proposal from the Barind area is in line with the government’s policy direction. What is crucial now for the government is to ensure that the plan is actualised with utmost sincerity and financial resources allocated for solar power project does not see the same fate as funds allocated for climate change projects.
The impacts of climate change are an undeniable reality for Bangladesh. The government should do all what needs to be done to better prepare the nation and minimise the effect of it by making well informed, environmentally sensitive development plan, particularly for the agriculture and the energy sector. It is in this context that the government should welcome the proposal for a shift towards renewable energy-based irrigation system for the Barind area and aid farmers to make the shift happen.
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