POST TIME: 25 October, 2021 01:38:22 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 25 October, 2021 05:29:21 PM
Australia keen to assist Bangladesh with energy resources, renewable to expedite growth: Envoy
UNB, Dhaka

Australia keen to assist Bangladesh with energy resources, renewable to expedite growth: Envoy

Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Jeremy Bruer has said his country will drive a clean-energy supply-chain initiative for the Indo-Pacific region and can assist countries like Bangladesh with energy resources, including renewable, to help fuel Bangladesh’s growth.

He said Australia released the first “Low Emissions Technology Statement” under the technology investment roadmap and they are keen to cooperate with Bangladesh in this area.

“The prosperity of our region depends on Australia remaining a reliable and responsible energy partner of choice in the clean-energy global economy,” said the High Commissioner, adding that they will consider a sizable financial contribution to ensure it delivers.

The Australian envoy made the remarks while delivering his keynote speech at a virtual dialogue titled “Bangladesh-Australia Relations: Prognosis for the Future.”

Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group, hosted the dialogue as part of its ongoing Ambassadors’ Lecture Series.

The opening remarks were delivered by Cosmos Foundation Chairman Enayetullah Khan. The session was chaired by Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, a renowned scholar-diplomat and former Advisor on Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Caretaker Government.

Former Foreign Secretary Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, Distinguished Fellow at Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Professor at International Relations Department of Dhaka University Imtiaz Ahmed, Brig Gen (retd) Shahedul Anam Khan and Honorary Advisor Emeritus, Cosmos Foundation Ambassador (retd) Tariq A Karim comprised the panel of discussants.

Enayetullah Khan said Australia has been seen as a trusted development partner in Bangladesh since the 1970s and recalled the broadcast of Bangladesh’s declaration of independence on Radio Australia, through which the rest of the world first came to know about it.

When independence finally came, he said, Australia became the 4th country and the first among the developed world to accord Bangladesh recognition on January 31, 1972.

The two countries, Khan said, continue to find new paths of collaboration and connection between their people, institutions and businesses.

Dr Iftekhar said Bangladesh-Australia ties go far beyond curry and cricket and shared liberal values rendered the two countries natural partners.

“We’re also looking for expanded collaboration in the whole range of activities -- e-commerce, infrastructure, power and energy, water, sanitation, hygiene; and tapping potential in the blue economy – our maritime resources,” he said.

High Commissioner Bruer said Australia has the potential to be a major supplier of LNG (liquefied natural gas) and other energy resources, including renewable energy to fuel Bangladesh’s growth. “We’d welcome support for expanded commercial energy partnerships.”

He said Australia has a plan that will ensure they meet their commitments and help its partners achieve theirs by developing at scale and cost the clean-energy technologies that all need.

“Our plan -- the long-term emissions reduction strategy outlines how Australia will harness low emissions technologies to meet its net zero commitments and continue to supply reliable and clean energy,” said the envoy.

The plan, he said, is backed by Australian government investment of $20 billion in low emissions technologies in the decade to 2030.

During that same period, the Australian High Commissioner said, they expect to leverage a further $80 billion of total investment from the private sector to support the commercialisation of technologies that they need to bring emissions down in Australia and around the world.

Australia’s focus is on cost-breakthroughs in clean hydrogen, long-duration energy storage, carbon-capture and storage low-carbon steel and aluminium and soil carbon measurement, he said.

Removing the green premium, the price difference between current technologies and low emissions solutions is the key to widespread global adoption.

Tariq Karim said Bangladesh needs to make a transition to clean energy from dirty energy, but it will not happen overnight.

“I recognize that. You can’t suddenly shut down coal-powered plants. If we do that in Bangladesh, our economic activities will hamper abruptly. But we’ve to make a transition,” said the noted diplomat.

In a sense, he said, Australia can help Bangladesh in such a transition. “But I’m disappointed that Australia is not there in the picture. Australia is the largest repository of natural gas. I think even more than Qatar or perhaps equal in Qatar. But we are importing LNG now from sources other than Australia.”

Tariq said Australia can come forward and support Bangladesh’s efforts towards transitioning from dirty power plants to cleaner power plants.

“Without fuel, the engines of growth will stop running everywhere and we'll have to find new fuel. We’re of course diverting to cleaner sources. We’ve fallen back on nuclear energy which has been our long-cherished dream, and the Prime Minister is talking about the second nuclear power plant,” he said.

But nuclear energy also requires having a more disciplined approach to deal with it because this boon can easily become a big disaster, the diplomat opined.