Rich countries can gain a lot by helping Bangladesh
Did you know that nearly 60 percent of Bangladesh's population is exposed to high risk of floods, much higher than any other country except the Netherlands? Climate change is worsening the situation and the financial and humanitarian costs brought by this calamity are racking up.
This is one of the headline findings of a new report by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, part of the prestigious London School of Economics.
The report is timely and arrives on the back of a sustained period of extreme weather patterns. According to the findings, Bangladesh is highly prone to flooding because of its location in the Bengal Delta and its low-lying, flat topography. Meanwhile, several factors linked to climate change are increasing the country's flood risk, including the increasing frequency of extreme precipitation and more erratic rainfall. Therefore, effective flood policies are ever more important to increase resilience and adaptation and reduce the likelihood of cascading humanitarian and economic impacts.
While the report focuses on Bangladesh, anybody with business ties to our country should sit up and take notice. The fact is that climate change is an existential threat that transcends borders and affects every corner of our planet. However, it disproportionately burdens the poorest and most vulnerable nations.
I will argue that rich countries, with their historical contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and greater economic capacity, have a moral and practical obligation to assist developing countries such as Bangladesh in addressing the adverse impacts of climate change. Fashion retailers can play an integral role in this.
One of the most compelling arguments for this is historical responsibility. The majority of the emissions causing climate change have originated from developed nations during their industrialisation. These emissions have led to the current global crisis, which impacts poor countries disproportionately. Thus, rich nations bear a significant moral responsibility; they must take proactive steps to help rectify the situation.
Moreover, climate change is not constrained by national borders. The effects of greenhouse gas emissions in one part of the world can have far-reaching consequences globally. Hurricanes, droughts, rising sea levels, and other climate-related disasters do not respect geopolitical boundaries. Rich countries should recognise that they too are vulnerable to the spillover effects of climate change, so by helping developing countries adapt and build resilience, rich countries ultimately protect their own citizens from the consequences of a warming planet.
Assisting developing countries in addressing climate impacts can also yield economic benefits for rich nations. Climate change can disrupt global supply chains, affect agricultural production, and lead to increased market volatility. By helping developing countries, rich nations can stabilise the global economy and safeguard their own economic interests. Moreover, investing in clean technologies – in garment production, for example – and green infrastructure in poor countries can open up new markets for rich nations' products and services, creating economic opportunities for both sides.
Climate change has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations within poor countries, exacerbating existing inequalities and causing significant human suffering. Rich nations, guided by principles of empathy and humanitarianism, should assist those who are most affected.
Addressing climate change is a collective endeavour that requires global cooperation. The Paris Agreement, signed by nearly every nation, emphasises the need for wealthy countries to provide financial support to developing nations to help them reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts. Fulfilling these commitments is essential for achieving international climate goals. Rich nations should not only meet their financial obligations but also go beyond them, as this is crucial for the success of global climate efforts.
By working collaboratively to combat climate change and reduce its disproportionate impact on poor countries, the global community can move closer to a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient future for all. It is not only a matter of ethical duty but also a strategic investment in the well-being and prosperity of our shared planet.
Mostafiz Uddin is managing director of Denim Expert Limited. He is also the founder and CEO of Bangladesh Denim Expo and Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE).
Views expressed in this article are the author's own.
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