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COP26 and renewable energy perspective of Bangladesh


AKM Asaduzzaman Patwary

Sr. Researcher and Doctoral Fellow in Economics in Jagannath University.

Bangladesh is the signatory of COP conference and agrees to keep temperature hike to 1.5°C to control global warming. The Kyoto agreement COP3 in 1997 sets, for first time, the direction for green energy need. COP is a legally binding deal and all signatories are to comply with the targets. The climate change vulnerability brought significant changes and adverse harms for the environmental health of many counties throughout the world. Industrially enriched countries are largely responsible for repercussions of the LDCs. Due to climate change concern, ground zero for climate change faces additional stress as nearly 75% of Bangladesh may go under water.

renewable-energy-perspective-of-bangladeshThe Paris Agreement, in 2015, defined a set of goals to be pursued at a global level to respond climate change threats more precisely article 2.1 of the Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial level, limit temperature increase to 1.5°C to adapt to climate change fostering climate resilience, aligning finance flows with two objectives. All signatory countries are to determine the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as a national target to reduce emission. The COP agreement was aligned with SDG 2030. The broad goal of SDG was to ensure sustainable social, economic development of country. The goal 9, 7, 12 and 13 are closely interrelated and cross-cutting in energy issue. These all issues cannot be amicably dealt and balanced as perspective of all goals are important in economic context. Goal 7 stated access to energy service for all as well some other targets of increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and double the global rate of energy efficiency. Thus, SDG is retained through COP deal for the sustainable global prosperity. The stark reality is many developing economies do not enforce these plans. China declared to be energy neutral by 2060 but energy peak usage will be by 2030 on COP agenda and many developed economies and carbon super powers look indifferent to Paris agenda as the USA changed support to COP in several times.

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries due to global climate change impact with risks livelihoods, food security, health and wellbeing. Climate change projections suggest that flood, cyclones, storm surge are likely to be frequent and severe with increased risk of temperature rise by 1.6°C by 2050s and sea level rise in the Bay of Bengal by 2100 upto 0.9 m.

In 2021, the COP26 to the UNFCCC in Glasgow has few surprises. Climate change impacts has significant challenge for the private sector especially for MSMEs and large industries. MSME contributes to our GDP around 28%. If their sustainability and business continuity is at risk due to manifold climate related issues, the economy will suffer resulting in job loss, poverty and change in industrial landscape. Climate change matters have changed and forced us to change the energy supply sources in Bangladesh.

For outcome of Glasgow dialogue, Bangladesh advocated to formulate and implement a specific ambitious plan of National Determined Contribution (NDC) to reduce widespread damage, USD 100 billion fund generation by developed economies for adaptation and mitigation, green technology at affordable prices while considering development of Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF). In line with clean energy and COP commitment, Bangladesh scrapped 10 coal-based power plants worth of $12 billion as a firm commitment to green energy despite contributing to just 0.47 percent of global emissions, an eye-opening move for the world. It is worth that recent time 75% of global power plants are mostly produce renewable power which is a positive notion indicating a shift in the world.

Power and energy state of any economy is aligned with the economic prosperity. Bangladesh conventionally depends on huge traditional energy sources including non-renewable sources natural gas, liquid fuel and LNG and planned for huge coal usage in the recent development plans and perspectives. The power sector masterplan has targeted over 60000 MW generation capacity by 2041 in line with the vision of developed economy with fossil fuel concentration. The global SDG agenda led transformation demands some changes in the energy mix in Bangladesh including green and clean energy. The extensive energy consumption would lead to environmental harm. Government has realized the demand of shift in energy sourcing and usage to non-fossil energy usage but this transformation needs huge transition in energy mapping, low-carbon and clean fuel sourcing. Industry, agriculture and power generation massively require liquid fossil fuel consumption which can be replaced to mitigate risks on agriculture, manufacturing sectors, local backward linkage of supply chain of manufacturing business and infrastructure. To implement the Paris Agreement keeping temperature within 1.5C, private and public sector are to work together.

screenshot-60The 7th five-year plan of Government underscored the coal-based power generation, LNG dependence but the 8th five-year focused on mixed energy with moderate clean power concentration. This frequent policy shift of Government also does not give clear direction in green energy security. The interim plan does not ensure integrated approach for sustainable and long-term energy security retaining the holistic interest of the country. Taking into account the local energy ecosystem, global dynamics and energy stakeholders’ interests in Bangladesh, we must have a visible and long-term roadmap with segmented plans for clean energy transformation. Off late, the LNG impot tariff has gone up which crops uncertainty in the relentless gas supply. Since clean energy is pricey and sources are finite in Bangladesh, therefore, we are to explore different means in this regard.

  • Off shore gas exploration efforts in mapped blocs are limited but tidal energy should be dealt. For cross-border hydro electricity from Nepal and Bhutan, cost and benefit need assessment. Cross-border power should not be large share in our power mix as this dependence is unsafe in the current geopolitical context.
  • Rational budget in energy sector and power sector is needed. Government spends much on conventional Gas and LNG sourcing but renewable is still less attended in national Budget. Our generation capacity may be replicated in infrastructure development. The power transmission infrastructure may not support clean power sourcing like solar, wind. Overall transmission and distribution infrastructure to bring nationwide renewable power connectivity with grid also need huge investment and change.
  • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for renewable power is needed for different power sources and limitations of conventional PPA must be avoided here. Against soaring conventional energy tariff, rational and competitive renewable energy tariff is to be maintained.
  • Industrial mapping is needed through robust assessment to know which industries can be operated with renewable power and transformation plan. 100 SEZs can incorporate renewable power and energy plan to some extent.
  • Balance of non-carbonised and low-carbon energy like nuclear, wind, hydro and natural gas and conventional energy is needed though our low-carbon energy is inadequate. Off-shore renewable energy sources are massive and need to be exploited. Improvement of carbon pricing mechanisms of carbon offsetting markets and nature-based solutions.
  • Local skills and capacity development is essential with 4IR technology-IoT, block chain and AI engagement in energy sector.
  • Frequent conventional energy tariff hike challenges economizing renewable tariff option.
  • Reduce coastal flood, erosion risks, strengthen embankments and deepen channels and land reclamation for solar power plants there. The delta plan 2100 should tag the potentials.
  • Ministry of power and energy and mineral resources, industries and private sector must discuss to strategise and accommodate this agenda. Predictable tax structure is needed to attract foreign investment in renewable energy. Above all, strong diplomacy for realizing promised $100 bn in climate financing by developed nations is needed to overcome climate risks and link to clean energy technology preparation.
  • Hydrogen technologies and business models are needed.

Bangladesh is working on climate change policy, adaptation and mitigation initiatives. We were one of the first countries to develop a climate change strategy and action plan due to our positive mindset to rebuild a safer world. Since our progress in UNSDG agenda has been acclaimed by UN as a role model, we must uphold affordable clean energy ideals with global support. If economy and private sector remain safeguarded, they would contribute to sustainable development agenda. With our growing priority of climate change effect and energy demand, this agenda must be enforced balancing economic prosperity and sustainability considering the need in new normal state for game-changing sustainable socioeconomic transformation.