CLIMATE CHANGE AND BANGLADESH

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On the evening of 29 October, l went to the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London’s East End to participate in a roundtable discussion hosted by the European Action Group on Climate Change, which brings together Bangladeshi people living in Europe to campaign about the impact of climate change on their original homeland. This is clearly an issue that we can all get together on and lobby for action both by the UK government and by others among the conference of the parties in the lead-up to the Copenhagen meeting in December.

In the discussion I reiterated what l have said before, namely that l was pessimistic about Copenhagen but optimistic about the role of cities in acting together across the world. I pointed out that after the Bush administration refused to sign up to the Kyoto agreement on climate change many cities across the United States went ahead and signed on their own behalf.

With 50 per cent of humanity living in cities now and 75% of all emissions coming from cities, in the end it is the actions they take that will make the difference. Rapidly growing cities such as Dhaka need to find ways of contributing to action to tackle climate change, as it is crucial for their own survival – for, if the Tibetan glaciers melt, then the majority of cities right across Asia will be without a reliable water supply and suffer severe floods.

On the back of all this interest, the London Assembly’s Environment Committee has agreed to work with Oxfam on a London Climate Hearing, which will be held on 26 November at 6.30pm in City Hall.

I also hope to be involved in organising other events on the impact of climate change in Bangladesh, for example with Frank Dobson MP, either before or after the Copenhagen conference. So watch this space if you are interested in opportunities to participate in this discourse on an issue that will be decisive for our future.