Bangladesh has a long history of floods but what used to be a one-in-20-year event now happens once every five years. An estimated 10 million Bangladeshis are at risk of becoming climate refugees over the next two decades if the current climate change trends continues, an expert has warned. Bangladesh has been featured in The Guardian’s recent list of seven climate change hotspots. Changing climates will mean more extreme weather that would see from heatwaves to hurricanes and floods to famine.
He said the coast was the most vulnerable area in Bangladesh, a climate hotspot. Most people leaving their homes prefer to move to Dhaka, the capital city. Huq, who has advised the Bangladesh government at successive UN climate summits, told The Guardian that there was strong evidence that climate change was impacting Dhaka. He said temperatures had already gone up by 1 degree Celsius that the weather patterns have changed visibly – the frequency of floods, for example. Major floods that used to hit Bangladesh once every two decades were more frequent now.
He said he expected to see more extremes.
Last year, there were four cyclones – Roanu, Kyant, Nada and Vardah – in the Bay of Bengal where there is usually only one.
According to Huq the rise in sea levels and increased salinity in coastal areas were “slow onset” that would “get worse”. This was an unprecedented “climate change phenomenon”, he told The Guardian. UN scientists have predicted that south-east Asia will see some of the worst impacts of climate change and said sea level rise will threaten over 25 million people in Bangladesh by 2050.
Huq, who leads research into how Bangladesh can adapt to climate change, said they researched the most vulnerable hotspots in details.
The government, he said, had started investing in a major climate change action plan. The country has made a name for itself as an international leader in climate action, particularly in terms of innovative adaptation to climate change. A huge project to harvest rainwater and coastal protection has been undertaken to counter coastal salinity. Scientists are also developing saline-tolerant rice. He suggested developing other towns and cities to make sure people, whose livelihood would be affected by climate change, did not move to the capital city only.

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