Six countries turn Bangladesh into carbon bomb: study

Emran Hossain | Published: 00:16, Nov 07,2019 | Updated: 15:40, Nov 07,2019


Bangladesh was on the course of turning into a carbon bomb by 2041 with 29 mega coal power projects, sponsored by China, the UK, India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan, under implementation, said a research released globally Wednesday.

Jointly conducted by Australia-based research organisation Market Forces and USA-based 350, the research said the coal-fired power plants planned in Bangladesh would emit 115 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2031.

The power plants would release 4,600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in their lifetime of 40 years, 20 per cent greater emissions than Japan, which produces much of its power from coal, said the research released online from Australia.   

In Bangladesh the research was co-published by Transparency International Bangladesh, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolan and Waterkeepers Bangladesh at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity on Wednesday.

‘China, India, Japan and UK are pursuing an aggressive investment policy in Bangladesh to promote the consumption of coal,’ said TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman after an executive summary of the research was presented. ‘Bangladesh is bowing to pressure exerted by these countries,’ he said.

China invests in 15 coal power projects to produce 18,000 MW power, and UK and Japan are involved in three projects each to produce 4700 MW and 3600 MW of power, said the research.

Bangladesh aims to increase its coal power capacity to 33,200 MW, 63 times its  current capacity of 525 MW, which is only 3 per cent of current 19,000 MW installed power capacity, said the research.

Bangladesh would need to spend $2 billion annually for importing coal to fuel 25 out of the 29 power plants, the research said, potentially inflating trade deficits unless exports increased rapidly.

The researchers did not have access to detailed information on all of the proposed plants for many of them were at initial stages and undergoing many changes.

They said the construction of 18 of the proposed plants would cost $ 40 billion.

Analysis of information on sponsorships of 17 of the power plants showed that Chinese companies and state entities represent more than 30 per cent of it, said the research.

The second largest sponsor was the UK accounting for 14.8 per cent of sponsorship while Singapore accounted for 3.4 per cent, India 3.2 per cent, Japan 2.9 per cent and Malaysia 2.9 per cent, said the research.

Bangladesh would sponsor the rest 42.3 per cent with own fund, the research said.

‘A nexus of foreign governments, private companies and banking institutions are funding these coal power projects,’ said BAPA general secretary Abdul Matin.

The researchers, after evaluating 15 of the proposed 29 coal power projects, said majority of the engineering, procurement and construction contracts are won by Chinese state-owned companies and their subsidiaries.

‘Power China is the largest EPC contractor, with involvement in four pipeline coal projects in Bangladesh,’ said the research.

Other companies selected for providing technology or technical support wre from Japan, the USA, Germany and South Korea, said the research.

Major finance for companies in China and Japan involved in the proposed power plants were coming from Exim Bank of China and Japan International Cooperation Agency, said the research.

The Asian Development Bank, Korea and Beijing based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank investing millions in establishing transmission and distribution lines for the proposed coal power plants.

The research said China and Japan were building massive power hubs at Payra and Matarbari taking advantage of the law allowing Bangladesh to award work orders without bidding.

All the proposed coal power projects were planned by rivers or close to the coast with three ‘power hubs’ located on the south coast at Payra, Matarbari and Maheshkhali, said the research.

The research urged Bangladesh to reconsider its power generation plan for increased carbon emission would worsen climate disaster to which Bangladesh was one of the most vulnerable countries.

It said that cyclone intensity would increase by 130 per cent by 2050 if global temperature rose by 2.4 C this century with reference to Bangladesh occupying the top most position on the UNDP list of countries vulnerable to tropical cyclones.

Citing a Greenpeace study, Matin said fly ash emitted from the Rampal power plant would cover the skies of Dhaka and extend as far as to Kolkata in 30 years of rolling into operation.

‘It seems that the situation has been created to bury Bangladesh under coal,’ said Matin.

Brotee chief executive officer Sharmeen Murshid, BAPA joint secretary Sharif Jamil and BAPA member Shahjahan Siddiqui also attended the press conference.

Replying to a question whether or not quality coal was less harmful to environment, Sharif Jamil said, ‘There is nothing called clean coal.’

‘Clean coal is a dirty lie,’ he said.

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