New Internationalist

Climate Caravan shows the way

Stilt houses Bangladesh [Related Image]
Stilt houses - coping with climate change in Bangladesh. University College London Development Planning Unit under a Creative Commons Licence

It’s no secret that Bangladesh is one of the countries most at risk from the ongoing consequences of climate change. Yet, while people in this region are acutely aware of this, the government is still at odds with its own population, announcing a new 1,320-megawatt coal-based power plant to be completed in 2019.

This project is part of broader plans to generate an extra 9,000 megawatts of electricity while at the same time acquiring some 2,000 hectares (20 square kilometres) of pristine coastal land, which for a country with 1,175 people per square kilometre, is tantamount to theft. It’s under these conditions that the Bangladesh Krishok Federation (BKF) and Bangladesh Kishani Sabha (BKS) continually take action into their own hands and this year have organized a Climate Caravan.

The two-week tour, which kicked off on 10 November, will visit communities in Bangladesh, India and Nepal, and is a rare opportunity for genuine solidarity between those struggling for justice in industrialized and developing nations. Its main aim isn’t to provide an opportunity for guilty Westerners to dissuade their guilt, but is designed to share information with all involved and show examples of direct challenges to the climate culprit of capitalism.

The first Climate Caravan (otherwise known as the South Asian Climate Change, Gender and Food Sovereignty Caravan) was held in 2011 and was organized to coincide with the UN climate change conference in Durban, South Africa (known as COP17). Attended by delegates from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Philippines, Britain, Germany and Australia, the caravan visited 18 villages in Bangladesh where they held meetings, workshops and seminars on the key issues facing those communities.

Through their shared stories they discovered that, as largely agrarian communities, they all faced similar challenges living under market-based systems, with climate change exacerbating those problems further. In a joint message, they completely rejected the solutions put forward by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and labelled them as attempts by ‘multinational corporations that have caused climate change in the first place to further take over what is left of our lands and livelihood’.

The 2014 Climate Caravan looks to build and expand on the original, taking in a greater variety of environments and struggles, while still focusing on the core aims of addressing climate change, gender, food sovereignty and their interrelationships.

You can stay up-to-date with the Climate Caravan by visiting the BKF website, or by following me at Medium where I’ll be providing daily updates (depending upon the internet gods). And you can follow the Climate Caravan on Twitter, too: #climatecaravan

We demand system change, not climate change.

Jarred Sferruzzi is an Australian journalist.

Read the April 2012 issue of New Internationalist on how Bangladesh is adapting to climate change.

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  1. #1 JFC 10 Nov 14

    With 60+ BILLION food animals on the planet our best chance to mitigate climate change is to severely reduce consumption of animal foods. More than 1/3 of human induced warming is attributable to animal agriculture. Methane is 24 times more potent than CO2 but takes only 7 years to cycle out of the atmosphere. CO2 takes around 100 years to come out. Human pursuit of animal protein is the leading cause of methane release and a primary cause of CO2 concentrating in the atmosphere. Check the facts and act!

    ’As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.’ Worldwatch Institute, ’Is Meat Sustainable?’

    “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains... the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” Environmental Defense Fund

    ’A 1% reduction in world-wide meat intake has the same benefit as a three trillion-dollar investment in solar energy.’ ~ Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy

    There is one single industry destroying the planet more than any other. But no one wants to talk about it...

    Step by Step Guide: How to Transition to a Vegan Diet

  2. #2 Md Sahadat Hossain 12 Nov 14

    Hi, I am just wonder, Is this house has built as a adaptive measure to Climate Change? I mean, Is such types capacity (infrasture/house) has developed in rural Bangladesh as the aim to combate with climate change?

  3. #3 Jarred Sferruzzi 28 Nov 14

    Hi Sahadat,

    The image wasn't taken by me, so I'm not sure on the specific circumstances on that community, but I can comment on others.

    Bangladesh is prone to regular, seasonal floods. I imagine buildings like the one pictured at the beginning of the article were initially designed to deal with these issues, however can be adapted for the ongoing consequences of climate change.

    According to my sources here, floods are becoming worse and more irregular, and are taking away more of the riverbanks each year as they flow out to sea (resulting in less land).

    While most farmers and landless peasants live on land, these structures are becoming more common as continuing land grabs, rising waters and a growing population make all land a premium commodity.

    Hopefully this helps.

    Jarred Sferruzzi
    (author of the article)

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