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15 July, 2017 00:00 00 AM

Climate change and global justice

Sadia Arefin

“Man is both creature and molder of his environment, which gives him, physical sustenance and affords him the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. Protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue, which affects the well being of peoples and economic development throughout the world, it is urgent desire of the people of the whole world and duty of all Government.” This is how the United Nation Conference on the Human Environment, which met it Stockholm in 1972 perceived the impending gloom of degradation of the global environment. The effect of globalization exists on the development of law and legal systems throughout the world, particularly in the environmental law field. As global environmental law develops, traditional distinctions between domestic and international law, and private and public law, are blurring. The temperature of the earth has increased significantly over the past few decades. Scientists around the world have predicted that the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere will increase by 2° to 6° Celsius by the end of the 21st century unless appropriate measures are not taken. The World Bank warns Bangladesh of suffering climate change the worst by the year 2100. The report estimates that the sea level will rise by 3 feet. This will cause huge flooding, and the falling of crops in the country. It is also mentioned that this will cause poverty and inflation.

Bangladesh, a country located in South Asia is the most affected country by climate change in the world and got a population of around 160 million (2016) with a life expectancy at birth of around 63 years, and an adult literacy rate of 48.5%. The recent Human Development Report ranks Bangladesh number 140 of 177 nations. Bangladesh experiences different types of Natural Disasters almost every year because of the Global Warming as well as Climate Change impacts.

In 2010, the Bangladeshi Parliament passed the Environment Protection Bill 2010, to amend the Bangladesh Environment Protection Act 1995.

The amended law “empowers the government to control the production, processing, stockpiling, supplying, transporting, importing, exporting, dumping and disposal” of hazardous waste due to control environmental pollution and controlling global warming.

This year in 2017, the intolerable temperature rise caused many of the city dwellers of Dhaka to install air conditioners in their apartments. Air conditioners require too much electricity, the generation of which by conventional methods will emit more CO2 in the atmosphere heating up the environment even more.  So the city is heating up in cyclic way.

According to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), Bangladesh has experienced an average temperature rise of 0.80 C over the last 100 years and the Dhaka city, the capital has got an increase of 40C during the same period. According to the research in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), 65% of Dhaka city has a temperature 4-60C higher than the average temperature in Dhaka. Some of these areas have seen a temperature rise of 80C over a period of about 24 years. In past year 2014 (24 April), Dhaka has the highest temperature of 40.20C in the last 54 years. This temperature is about 80C above the usual maximum temperature in Dhaka in April.  In 2017, Dhaka has recorded 37.80C in Jessor. The main reasons for this unusual temperature rise in Dhaka are the unplanned urbanization, excessive population density, and the increase of cars, and public transports in the city.

Also the use of fridges and air conditioners used by the dense city dwellers make a huge amount of HFCs (hydrofluocarbons) contribution to the air, which destroys the protective ozone layer of the Earth. These gases are more dangerous than CO2 as they have a heat trapping capability of 1600 times larger than CO2. Scientists also believe that rising temperatures will lead to more extreme weather worldwide, including stronger and more frequent cyclones in the Bay of Bengal.

Shahanaz Parveen, a woman living near the Bay of Bengal, has been shattered by climate change thrice in one year. Firstly, a Cyclone of 140mph wind ripped through her village.

This disaster killed about 6,000 people, flattening their houses and crops, and devastated the lives of millions, including her. The second Cyclone hit the Bay 3 months later, but this one was even worse. Cyclone Mora tore in with flash floods, salt water, and torrential rains. “We know we must live with climate change and are trying to adapt," said Shahanaz. And the reason behind such rapidly coming cyclone and hot weather is global warming.

Climate change is the change in earth’s climatic pattern. This can result in an increase of temperatures, which increases the likelihood of the recurrence of devastating natural disasters.

Although our planet has seen the significance of climate change in its history, today’s problem is even more alarming due to the rate of change of human activities. Due to increasing concentrations of Green house gases, our climate is expected to change even more in the coming decades.

Thus, recently there are many appreciable growths in the level of understanding and facing the danger of environmental problems nationally as well as internationally.  As the environment changes in every year globally and an extensive range of environmental problems is now the subject of serious international concern which includes, green house effect and climate change, depletion of Ozone layer, acid rain, desertification, loss of biodiversity, sea level rise and low lying countries or areas are in danger of losing its existences, radiation and disposal of toxic wastes, deforestation of tropical forest, increase amount of natural calamities, human health and infant mortality, poverty, uncontrolled growth of population beyond the sustaining capacity of Earth, pollution of air, pollution of fresh water and resources like oceans and seas, danger of nuclear and other extra hazardous substances.

The United Nation General Assembly has adopted a number of resolutions concerning the environment, and the UN Environment Programme was established after the Stockholm Conference of 1972.

This has proved a particularly important organization in the evolution of conventions and instruments in the field of environmental protection.

In 1992 the UN Commission on Sustainable Development was established by the General Assembly and the ECOSOC. It consists of 53 states elected by ECOSOC and it exists in order to follow up the UN Conference on Environment and Development 1992.

In 1994 it was agreed to transform the Global Environment Facility form a 3 year pilot programme into a permanent financial mechanism to award grants and concessional funds to developing countries for global environmental protection projects.

The Facility is intended to focus upon climate changes, loss of biodiversity, pollution of fresh water and resources, depletion of Ozone layer. Issues of land degradation will also be eligible within this frame work.

It is now clear that at the present there exists an international human right to a clean environment as the general human rights provisions which are relevant in the field of environmental protection such as right to an adequate standard of living, right to life, right to health, right to food, etc.

The writer is an advocate. Email: [email protected]



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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