COP21: Kickout the big Polluters

As the world leaders get ready to meet in Paris for 21st Conference of the parties (COP21), to establish a solid ground to solve the climate crisis, doubts shadow whether or not corporate business and big oil polluters have taken over the agenda.

The corporate involvement, specially fossil fuel lobby groups within the UNFCCC is not new. From the very beginning of the earth summit and 1995 COP1 (Statement by the International Chamber of Commerce before COP1) in Berlin till cop20 in Lima, we have seen corporate parties taking every action to jeopardize any climate agreement and to make sure their interest is not harmed, which they refer to as ‘Business as usual’.

The negotiation to bring the countries on same page in solving climate crisis has been going on for 20 years now through COP. And each time the outcome was same: No universal agreement. Closest were COP3 and COP15, but there were no legal binding. The corporations and fossil fuels lobbyist group played a key role ensuring that.The failure of 20 climate summits to date has corresponded with a dramatic speed up of greenhouse gas emission rates. In fact, since 1988, more than half of all industrial carbon emissions have been released, raising the prospect of irreversible climate change.

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CO2 level has never been this high in human history. Credit: NOAA & Scripps Institution of Oceanography

But, why do organizations like UNFCCC let business corporations take over things? A short history lesson will help us understand that.

Back in 70s, UN took up an initiative to monitor big corporations so that they can’t  create pressure on underdeveloped nations for business. With time, UN changed that policy and the companies were given priority to invest in the name of foreign direct investment through UN. Later in the 90s, the financial crisis within the UN, opened doors for more Corporate-UN partnership. UNFCCC is just one part of it.

Corporate influence

The corporate influence within UNFCCC—Polaris Institute

With COP, the whole world has seen the effort fossil fuel lobbyist group indulge in. From ‘business as usual’ market based solution to ‘greenwash’ every effort has been put into place to care for profit, not for the environment. To them, climate action is important, but can’t jeopardize the growth. Carbon tax is another loophole, which shifts focus from emission reduction to emission transfer.

So, when the French Senate cut funding for COP21, the French government’s announced that corporate sponsors would cover 20 percent of the €170 million event was not a surprise.

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Corporate and dirty, does not look smart—COP21 sponsors

Corporate Europe Observatory, Corporate Accountability International and many other civil society organizations have been pointing out the corporate involvement with COP for years. The corporate sponsorship of COP21 creates a dangerous conflict of interest in two key points [1]:

  1. Most of the sponsors invest heavily in fossil fuel, and with a weak climate agreement, they benefit the most
  2. UNFCCC and its member governments are allowing the corporations responsible for causing the climate crisis to greenwash their brands while continuing to make no meaningful changes to their polluting operations.

 

Fossil Fuel lobbyist are also becoming desperate. With downward pressure on gas and coal prices, both the removal of Fossil Fuel Subsidies and implementing renewable energy strategy is possible without raising much energy cost. Then there is their public image, which is also facing much scrutiny as fossil fuel industry knew about their effect on climate change since 1980s and they continued to fund deniers throughout.

So, what this means? This means that whatever outcome we get from COP21, may also serve the fossil fuel industry, a reason why a drive is now ongoing to kick out the big polluters from COP21 negotiation. World Health Organisation (WHO) had done such before in one of United Nations quickest ratified treaties in 2005 which introduced a bar between public health officials and tobacco industry. We do not want the same history to be repeated again and again, as we have found for the last 20 COPs, big polluters find their way in. It’s time that we say no to them through an action like WHO, for us and for the planet.

More to come, this week: Have you heard, renewable can save the world by 2050? Stay tuned. 

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Online Birth Registration Process for Dhaka (Bangladesh) City Corporation (South)

I first came to know about the online birth registration process couple of months back. I wanted to make it online but due to time limitation and work pressure, could not go through the process until last week.

Dhaka South City Corporation Photo: PRS
Dhaka South City Corporation Photo: PRS

I called Dhaka City Corporation (South) as I was born within this side of the town. They provided me the details of where to go and whom to contact (And they were prompt), they did ask few questions like where I was born to pinpoint under which jurisdiction my place of birth fell. There is a complete list of areas and zonal office in the website. You can also get it here, Dhaka city zonal office.

I, along with my classmate went there last Wednesday. On the 7th floor, Rafiqul Islam, Birth and Death Reg. Asstt. work at room 813 and is responsible to put it online. It took around 10 minutes to complete the application process as I had a copy of my birth certificate with me. To register online, I just needed to give a copy of that and pay a fee of 250 taka, a receipt copy is provided.

I got new registration number and a certificate next day. I came back home to verify online my birth registration. I found out that there were spelling errors in the Bengali profile. What happened was that my previous birth certificate only contained my profile in English. So, I called them and they ensured me that I can go anytime to correct the errors as I just did the registration, no extra fees will be needed. I just need a valid document which contains my profile in Bengali (National Identification card). Also, you need to provide proper documents to change any of the information of the already registered birth certificate.

Now, many would like to ask why it is important to do birth registration online? This is an initiative taken by Government of Bangladesh and UNICEF to make an one point entry of birth registration. It has also the option to verify anyone’s identity online. Other than that, the birth registration process itself can help you to do the following things using Birth Registration Card:

  1. Passport Issue
  2. Voter Registration
  3. Marriage Registration
  4. In the process of getting a public and private job
  5. Driver’s License Registration
  6. Registration of Land
  7. To get registered as a voter
  8. Getting admitted into an educational institute
  9. To open a bank account
  10. License for Export and Import
  11. Getting a Tax Identification number
  12. Getting a license to become a contractor
  13. To register a vehicle
  14. To get Gas, water and electricity lines
  15. To get approval of a building design
  16. To get a trade license
  17. To get a national ID

The overall process has become remarkably smooth considering what we usually hear about DCC services. I was more than satisfied. Few things I noticed and noted:

  1. The website is often down, not accessible. I did talk with few high officials and they said it happens due to high volume of users but having a low bandwidth.
  2. The number of registered people shown in the website is not accurate. Reason is during the preliminary stage of the project, the people who carried out survey at villages to register people, did not get the information properly.
  3. This is an observation. I saw a notice outside of the lift of the City Corporation Building stating that if the person in-charge of the  lift is not present at his duty place to call a number. There was none in place, and nobody bothered to call. This shows that the user end does have the problem of awareness of the initiatives that are taken by authorities to provide better services.

As the website states, this year’s theme of Birth Registration day is “As you are born once, your registration should be once as well”. I believe we need to focus on the loophole I mentioned above. Also people should be made aware of the online service more, it will ensure the overall effectiveness of the process.

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Garden to Keep it Green: Dhaka City Corporation North Rooftop

 

Two weeks back, for academic purposes I had the chance to go to Dhaka City Corporation (North). I got to know about some of the amazing work they are doing including renovating public toilets, creating wifi zone within the corporation office arena, using the roof top space for composting, rain water harvesting and many more.

Here is a glimpse of some of the photos I got the chance to take.

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Composting instruments on roof top
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The Constant Gardener
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So many plants!Use of Space
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Straight (Far), rain-water harvesting instruments
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Forgot the name of the plant (I am bad with plant names)
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Forgot the name of the plant (I am bad with plant names)
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So many plants!Use of Space
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Forgot the name of the plant (I am bad with plant names)
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Mango!
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Mango!
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Fruit
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So many plants!Use of Space
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Pomelo Fruit on Roof Top Garden!

I really liked what they did with the building as well. Trying to recycle and improvise. Such initiatives and steps should be told to people to make them aware of the good things the government and the authority is doing.