DHAKA, May 23 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Bangladesh is
set to impose its own carbon tax on fuel next month – despite
the hugely climate-vulnerable country producing relatively tiny
per capita emissions.
The tax is expected to be put in place on June 1 as part of
the country’s annual budget and will be part of a larger bundle
of “green” measures, Nojibur Rahman, chair of the National Board
of Revenue, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone
Many businesses and environmental groups have welcomed the
plan, saying that Bangladesh – one of the countries considered
most threatened by climate change impacts – needs to make a
strong statement as governments like that in the United States
pull back from action on climate change.
The new tax may not make any significant contribution to
achieving the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping average global
temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius above
pre-industrial levels, they said.
But “when a country pollutes, the other countries are also
affected. So, we need to reduce carbon emission as much as
possible and imposing a tax is only way to do it,” said Abdul
Matlub Ahmad, outgoing president of the Federation of Bangladesh
Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
He said the tax would not only raise the price of using
fossil fuels but the added income could help push more use of
“If the government wants to cut the import duty on
environment-friendly renewable energy products, it needs to
charge taxes on polluters,” he said in a telephone interview.
Bangladesh produces about 0.44 tonnes of carbon dioxide per
person, much lower than the United States’ 16.4 tonnes,
Australia’s 16.3 tonnes and Qatar’s whopping 40.5 tonnes,
according to World Bank figures.
Carbon taxes – which raise the cost of using fossil fuels by
creating a charge for the climate damage they do – are one of
the simplest, most market-friendly ways of driving climate
action, experts say.
But they have proved politically tricky to put in place, and
not just in poorer parts of the world where incomes are low and
making fuel more expensive can be politically risky.
But low-lying Bangladesh, which faces huge risks from sea
level rise, worsening storms, floods, droughts and other climate
change impacts, has made a name for itself as an international
leader in climate action, particularly in terms of innovative
adaptation to climate change.
“Although our contribution to climate change is very
nominal, we are one of the worst victims of climate change.
Aware of the problem, we have the most successful and best
climate change programmes the world has so far witnessed in any
country,” Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith, said earlier this
month at a Dhaka summit on climate change and disaster risk
While it seeks international finance to help with programmes
to address climate change, Bangladesh also has paid for projects
out of its own nationally funded climate change fund.
M.A. Matin, general secretary of the Bangladesh Poribesh
Andolon (Bangladesh Environment Movement), said in a telephone
interview that any carbon tax would need to be accompanied a
“long-term carbon reduction plan” from the government.
In the short term, higher taxes on industry can drive up
production costs, with those costs passed on to consumers. That
might mean “it’s not a right method for reducing emissions,” he
Md. Khalequzzaman, a Bangladeshi professor at Lock Haven
University in Pennsylvania, said he believed that in a poor
nation like Bangladesh industry – rather than consumers – should
bear the cost of the new tax.
“I feel that the financial beneficiaries of carbon emissions
should bear the tax as a part of their corporate social
responsibility. The ordinary people should not be burdened with
the additional cost of using power,” he said in an interview.
He suggested that alongside imposing the carbon tax, the
government should look at developing renewable sources of energy
in the country.
(Reporting by Syful Islam; editing by Laurie Goering :; Please
credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of
Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change,
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