In Bangladesh, where much of the country’s population lives at sea level on the flood-prone alluvial plains of major rivers flowing from the Himalayas, a lengthy discourse about the impact of climate change can seem a little indulgent.
On 5 December, 240 Bangladeshi workers representing the country’s national union centres formed a “workers’ chain” in front of the National Press Club in the capital, Dhaka.
The Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE), which organised the event, said the unions wanted to draw attention to their concerns about “negative impacts of climate change in employment of livelihood of the working people at different vulnerable sectors.”
Unions want the Bangladesh government’s delegation to the Copenhagen climate change summit, which kicked off this week, to support inclusion in any agreement of a “just transition” clause proposed by global unions.
The government of Bangladesh said it will ask for at least 15 per cent of any money which rich countries pledge at Copenhagen to help developing nations cope with climate change.
Environment minister Hasan Mahmud said Bangladesh was entitled to a big share of the money because it was the country most vulnerable to climate change. He said 20 million Bangladeshis will be displaced if the sea rose by a metre.
The minister said that in addition to the millions who would be displaced by rising sea levels, many more would be affected if glaciers in the Himalayas melted due to global warming.
“The population of our one coastal district is bigger than the entire population of all island countries and in that consideration at least 15 per cent of any climate fund should come to us.”