(This article was originally published here)
The western media regularly heralds reports of the latest technologies that will solve the problem of global warming — these are portrayed as miracle fixes which will reverse the damage caused by decades of industrialisation. The inconvenient truth, however, is that there is no “silver bullet.” Bangladesh being a climate conscious nation, has long since realised this and is now at the forefront of climate change adaptation, scribing the blueprint for the rest of the world.
To reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases, there is a need to prioritise policies and regulations. Acknowledging the need for data-driven climate forecasts, an integrated model of energy, emissions, and land use in Bangladesh has been developed to identify energy secure pathways for supply and demand of energy between now and 2050. The “Bangladesh 2050 energy and carbon emissions calculator” abbreviated to “BD2050” developed at Cardiff University, UK by a team of researchers including myself and led by Dr Monjur Mourshed, was launched by the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Mr Robert Gibson, during the Gobeshona Conference for Research on Climate Change in Bangladesh held in Dhaka earlier this year.
As explained by Dr Monjur Mourshed: “The calculator allows the user to explore all high-level energy, economic, and emission pathway options that the country faces. For each possible pathway the user can investigate likely impacts on land-use, electricity, energy security, food production and intake.” Once the user assigns one of four pre-defined scenarios for each variable, the results are then displayed in an easily interpretable graph.
There are currently two versions of the calculator; one is simplified and user-friendly and the other more detailed with the underlying data accessible. The latter may be more suited for policy makers and also to inform local educators of the effectiveness of their interventions. The simplified version of the calculator adopts a user-friendly interface, eliminating all the technical jargon, and is available as an open-source web tool: http://www.bd2050.org
It is paramount to help people identify with climate change instead of polarising them about it. This is especially important in Western countries where the effects of climate change are less obtrusive than say in Bangladesh, where the severity and frequency of flooding, cyclones and drought are increasing at an alarming rate. There are currently 11 countries who have taken the initiative to develop their own calculator, including China, India, South Africa, and the UK, with even more in the pipeline. Bangladesh BD2050 calculator is the first to be developed for a Least Developed Country.
Bangladeshi’s are renowned for their resilience to adapt to an ever-changing environment and have tried their best to embrace the new opportunities that stem from it. The calculator will not only assist in government policy development but also in helping NGO’s more appropriately target their work and guide local communities to a more stable, safer and happier future. The BD2050 calculator can be thought of as evolving with the needs and abilities of the Bangladeshi society as data will be continually updated and scenarios altered over time.
Scaring the public into adopting an environmentally friendly lifestyles with an end-of-the-world picture no longer works. The public and policy-makers need to know there are tools out there that will guide them to environment friendly behaviour through hard-line data-driven forecasts, such as BD2050.
Written by: Alex Trowell, Visiting Researcher, International Centre for Climate Change and Development