Bangladesh calls for developed countries to pay compensation to climate vulnerable nations

Minister of Foreign Affairs for Bangladesh AK Abdul Momen spoke to ITV News about compensation to poorer countries.
  • Words by ITV News Deputy News Editor Mahatir Pasha

The Bangladeshi government is calling for developed countries - responsible for the highest rates of global carbon emissions - to pay compensation to poorer nations for the loss and damage incurred through climate change.

Speaking ahead of the much anticipated climate summit COP26, scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Bangladesh AK Abdul Momen told ITV News “it is fair and just for these bigger countries to pay compensation because they are the ones that abuse the resources and spoil planet Earth”.

'The others should come forward and compensate'

The G20, which is made up of most of the world’s largest economies, accounts for more than 80% of global carbon emissions. Meanwhile, developing countries like Bangladesh often emit the lowest amounts of global emissions but are forced to endure the disproportionate wrath of climate change.

Bangladesh is only responsible for 0.4% of the planet’s total carbon discharge yet loses around 2% of its GDP yearly to extreme climate events. Six million Bangladeshis have to date, become displaced as a consequence of climate change and by 2050, the country fears 17% of its coastline will vanish underwater creating 30 million climate refugees.

“This is an existential problem for Bangladesh,” Mr Momen said, adding: “The climate change issue is not a national issue, not a regional issue, it is a global issue and we all have to work together in collaboration and partnership to save this planet."

'We are sharing the burden of the abuse and misuse of the industrialised countries'

Bangladesh is currently presiding over the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a global partnership of 48 countries disproportionately impacted by the consequences of global warming.

The group was formed partly to hold industrialised countries to account for their contributions towards climate change.

The Foreign Minister explained the CVF, under the leadership of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, will be pushing for a number of policy commitments at the UN climate summit which is now less than two months away.

These include endorsing commitments of reaching the 1.5C warming limit by 2030 as set out in the Paris agreement in 2015 and lobbying wealthy countries to honour their climate finance promise of investing $100 billion per year from 2020-2025 to assist climate-vulnerable countries.

The issue of 'loss and damage' will be high on the agenda for the CVF at the Summit. Although lacking a clear definition, this generally refers to the negative impacts of climate change often felt by developing countries.

This can take the form of economic impacts (damage to crops, homes, infrastructure) but also non-economic impacts - for example harm to human health, loss of territory/cultural heritage or damage caused to biodiversity.

Climate change is having a big impact on Bangladesh. Credit: AP

Professor Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Dhaka told ITV News: “Although loss and damage has been felt by developing countries for decades, the issue is only now slowly starting to be talked about.

“Countries like Bangladesh and other developing nations have been hit with extreme weather, no doubt influenced by climate change for years and no one seemed to care.

"Now, as wealthier countries like Turkey battle against wildfires and the USA contends with the scale of Hurricane Ida, no one can ignore what is going on.

"The issue of loss and damage must be taken seriously at COP26 this year. Richer countries should not be able to get away from paying their fair share this time.”

Discussions around loss and damage have been contentious within international climate negotiations for a multitude of reasons, including deciphering how best to quantify the impact of climate change on a country’s finances, addressing fairness and equity and proving historical responsibility for climate change.

However, in spite of these complications, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister remains “hopeful” of coming to an arrangement at Glasgow.

'We need the technology and financing'

The UK became the first G7 country to enshrine in law a commitment to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma is urging other countries to follow suit, but Bangladesh says unless the UK and other developed nations can provide the relevant technological and financial support required, they won’t be able to make the commitment to achieving net zero by the middle of the century.

Mr Sharma has said: “Cop26 is our last best hope of avoiding the worst effects of climate change, and we cannot afford to fail.”

Mr Momen told ITV News that the summit was an opportunity to “help save this planet.”

The rhetoric seems similar from both sides, but whether developed and developing countries are able to broker a much-needed climate deal beneficial for the whole world is yet to be seen.

We’ll find out at Glasgow.