Bangladesh-UK Climate Accord: Traversing a New Arena of Bilateral Cooperation

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Recently Bangladesh and the United Kingdom (UK) have signed a climate accord. The accord was signed during the UK’s Indo-Pacific Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s latest visit to Dhaka. Even though Bangladesh- a climate-vulnerable country, has a climate cooperation framework with several multilateral institutions such as the United Nations (UN), this may be the country’s first-ever climate accord with another state. For the UK, the accord is an effort to increase its leadership in climate politics internationally. Just months ago, the UK hosted COP-27 in Glasgow, which produced Glasgow Climate Act.

Against this backdrop, it is worth focusing on the implications of the accord for Bangladesh, the UK, and the Global Effort to curb the adverse impacts of Climate Change.

The accord was signed on 12th March 2023. Bangladesh’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shahriar Alam MP, and Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Minister of State (Indo-Pacific) For Foreign relations, signed the accord representing their respective state.

Under the accord, Bangladesh and the UK will work jointly on the climate change front to materialize the Paris Agreement and Glasgow Climate Act. Both countries will work together in Mitigation, Adaptation, Loss and Damage, Finance, and Collaboration.

In Mitigation, both countries will cooperate to achieve net zero by 2050. In the accord, the UK appreciated Bangladesh’s Agriculture, Forestry, and other Land use and waste management. The UK also welcomed Bangladesh’s intention to increase the share of clean energy up to 40% of the total energy by 2041 and the low carbon development pathway under the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan. The UK will provide implementation support to Bangladesh in this regard.

As Bangladesh is a climate-vulnerable country with experience in formulating policy, the UK will work with Bangladesh to promote an effective adaptation policy. Bangladesh’s ‘developed and tested’ adaptation plan will also be shared with other climate-vulnerable countries under a global initiative. Both countries will work closely with Resilience and Adaptation Coalition and the Adaptation Action Coalition in the adaptation aspect.

Bangladesh and UK will also find each other in advocating for new funding initiatives to meet loss and damage from climate change.

And lastly, in finance and collaboration, both countries will support each other in pursuing climate funds, collaborate on political decisions in global forums, and implement climate change programs.

The accord is likely to increase Bangladesh-UK cooperation on climate change in the international arena due to the wide range of opportunities for collaboration.

The accord will bring significant implications for Bangladesh. Bangladesh and the UK will have a more proactive role in climate politics in international forums. Bangladesh’s experience of presidency at the Climate Vulnerable Forum during 2020-2022 has already made it a renowned climate advocate in international forums. As the UK is one of the top leaders in climate action and presided over COP 27, more focus on innovation, adaptation, and incurring loss and damage will likely occur in the coming days. Such initiatives will open a new avenue for climate financing in Bangladesh.

As the accord acknowledges Bangladesh’s Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan (MCPP), it will serve as external support for Bangladesh’s ambitious Plan. Developed per the Paris Agreement, MCPP is a national strategy of Bangladesh to shift Bangladesh’s trajectory from vulnerability to resilience to prosperity. The Plan aims to do so in the decade to 2030. Under the Plan, Bangladesh expects towel come private and public investment worth USD 80 billion. A further breakdown shows the country expects USD 46.93 Billion for adaptation (61.6%),  USD 18.87 billion for building resilience (24.8%), 2 billion for loss and damage (2.6%), and 8.38 billion for low carbon initiative (11%).

As the UK and the accord focus on net-zero, reducing carbons, and building resilience through financing and implementation, the accord will benefit Bangladesh’s Low-carbon initiatives and resilience-building effort.

The UK is ambitiously emerging as a key country in climate diplomacy. In this context, such an accord will help the UK to increase its presence in global climate forums. Moreover, the UK advocates for innovative global funds to counter climate change; collaborating with Bangladesh will provide it with political support in promoting extensive finance and funding. External political support will also be helpful for the UK to pursue its desired climate policy in global forums.

Bangladesh’s MCCP is designed according to the outcomes of COP conferences. The accord between Bangladesh and the UK was also signed under COP 26, where the UK was the chair. As a result, signing the accord will bolster climate cooperation on the global stage by increasing implementation support at the local level. Moreover, it will strengthen climate cooperation as it can serve as an example for bilateral and multilateral accords in the future of such nature.

Furthermore, as the UK’s climate diplomacy advocates for more implementation support and innovative funds, and Bangladesh is one of the top LDC leaders with vocal participation in climate action, the collaboration through the accord will intensify further persuasion for required funds and technology transfer. For a long time, the LDCs and developing countries have been advocating for effective funding and technology transfer from developed countries to address climate change. In this context, such a concerted effort will benefit other climate-vulnerable countries also as their demands align perfectly with Bangladesh and the UK’s climate diplomacy.

Bangladesh is a Climate Vulnerable country that will face adverse ramifications owing to climate change. Hence, Bangladesh is willing to implement the Paris Agreement and Glasgow Climate Pact to mark itself safe from the adverse impact of climate change. The MCPP designed in accordance with the Paris agreement bears the proof of such a claim. However, Bangladesh and other developing and least developed countries require external cooperation to implement the agreements that would benefit the World. Therefore, the climate accord between Bangladesh and the UK is a welcome effort that will also have significant positive impact on the signatories and the world.

– Md. Mufassir Rashid is a Research Associate at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).

Published in Daily Asian Age [Link]