Digital strike demanding closure of all coal power projects in the country

Implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement

Staff Reporter :: Youthnet for Climate Justice, a youth network, organized the online strike on Friday as part of the Fridays for the Future movement of Swedish teenager and climate activist Greta Thunberg. Young people from different upazilas of Cox’s Bazar district supported the program by putting up placards with their demands through social media. This innovative program has aroused quite a response among the youth and the demands have spread outside the country.

Concerned about human rights violations at the Matarbari Coal Power Plant in Cox’s Bazar, local environmental disasters and other issues, young climate workers have called on the Japanese government not to finance the second phase of the world’s largest coal power project.

Jabed Noor Shant, coordinator of the Cox’s Bazar branch of Youthnet for Climate Justice, said, “Once the Matarbari coal power project is completed, our Cox’s Bazar will be polluted and there will be environmental catastrophe.” If Cox’s Bazar does not survive, the country will suffer economically. The socio-economic catastrophe of the country will happen. We will not allow Cox’s Bazar to be destroyed. If we want to save the world and the next generation, we have to move away from coal-based projects and focus on renewable energy. Increasing investment in environmentally friendly renewable energy will allow us to establish ourselves as a low-emission country and protect ourselves from the effects of climate change. This will enable the two countries to move forward together to implement the Paris Agreement.

Sohanur Rahman, organizer of Fridays for the Future Bangladesh, said that although Bangladesh is at the top of the list of countries affected by climate change, it will gradually move to the top as a polluting country due to fossil fuel dependent projects. In November last year, in the wake of the movement of our young generation, the Bangladesh National Assembly declared the world’s first ‘planetary emergency’. We have also recently encountered a super cyclone ampun in the corona virus. Besides, Bangladesh is now leading the Climate Vulnerable Forum. Therefore, at a time when the world is moving from corona epidemic to green recovery with the climate crisis in mind, no environmentally destructive project that conflicts with the government’s own declaration can go ahead in Bangladesh.

JICA is a long time reliable development partner of Bangladesh. JICA has already invested ৮ 1.46 billion in the Matarbari coal power project, and plans to invest another ৩ 1.32 billion. The second phase of the Matarbari power project is to be funded by JICA.

The government needs Rs 6,000 crore (US ৮ 8 billion) for post-Corona economic recovery, more than half of which it expects to receive from foreign donors. Of this, the government has asked JICA for Tk 750 crore (১ 1 billion).

Besides, Bangladesh has recently lost Tk 1,100 crore (১২ 129 million) due to cyclone Ampan. In addition, further ODA (Official Development Assistance) loans for coal power projects will further increase Bangladesh’s external debt, which will be an obstacle to the country’s sustainable development.