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LIDC Podcast: Tackling Climate Change in Bangladesh

The dramatic impact of climate change in low-lying Bangladesh and new efforts to mitigate its consequences are explored in the third episode of LIDC’s monthly podcast Development Matters. In this wide-ranging interview, Professor Mizan Khan, of North South University, Bangladesh, also criticises the outcome of last year's climate change negotiations in Copenhagen and is optimistic about the health benefits of reducing carbon emissions.
 
 
Effects of climate change
Professor Khan begins by talking about the particular and urgent problems Bangladesh is facing due to climate change, especially rising sea levels. As many as 20 million people in this densely populated country could be at risk in the coastal areas and will have “nowhere else to go.” Khan notes that due to its experience of natural hazards, Bangladesh has developed into a leader of natural disaster risk management. The country has set up a fund for climate change adaptation and it supports activities  including planting trees, developing flood-resistant strains of rice, and providing training for non-agricultural employment.
 
Verdict on Copenhagen summit
Khan describes the outcome of the UN’s meeting on climate change in Copenhagen last year as “utterly frustrating” and expresses grave concerns about the lack of binding targets for emissions. However, he believes future progress is possible five years from now. Khan sees a strong moral obligation for the developed countries to take the lead in tackling climate change and urges them to set an example by taking the “very rational” step of supplying growing economies in developing countries with low-carbon technology. 
 
Health benefits of climate change mitigation
Khan finishes the interview by discussing the wider benefits of low-carbon growth. He questions the value of economic growth and mass consumption. The common perception of associating consumption with progress can have a directly negative effect on individuals’ health, something Khan sees in the rising levels of obesity in many developed countries. He argues that development in terms of improved individual health and quality of life should be viewed differently; it should be less dependent upon consumption, and is compatible with sustainable growth. Khan says: “Sustainable development is not a zero-sum game.” He suggests “a life based on voluntary simplicity”, advice which he follows by keeping to a diet of mostly vegetables and fish, and only small amounts of red meat.
 
By Adam Sarac, an undergraduate student at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and a work experience placement student at LIDC