Bangladesh braces for heat as productivity losses hit GDP

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DHAKA: Climate change officials in Dhaka are exploring ways to make the country’s urban areas more livable in the face of rising temperatures, as heat-related productivity losses would cost the Bangladeshi economy more than 5% of the product raw interior.

Cyclones, floods and droughts are already regular problems for Bangladesh, but the losses it suffers due to productivity declines amount to around 32 billion working hours per year between 2001 and 2020, according to a Duke University study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters in mid-January.

The study showed that heat-related losses in Bangladesh amounted to around 5% of GDP in 2000, rising steadily to 5.5% in 2020.

Mirza Shawkat Ali, climate change director at the environment ministry, told Arab News earlier this week that officials are aware of the study and are working on a set of measures to mitigate the fallout from global warming.

“In recent years, the situation in Bangladesh has deteriorated due to the increase in heat,” he said, adding that with mercury reaching 41.2C in April last year, The Ministry of Environment and the government-affiliated Water Modeling Institute decided to assess the causes of urban heat island effects in the country’s largest city, Dhaka, a megacity of 22 million people. ‘inhabitants.

An urban heat island is an area significantly warmer than its surroundings due to human activity.

“The project aims to find ways to make the capital more livable for residents,” Ali said.

“The research will continue for 18 to 24 months. We will make a series of recommendations on mitigating the impacts of global warming.

He added that research is expected to begin within the next three months, but adaptation strategies climate researchers say are unlikely to become long-term solutions.

Professor Atiq Rahman said the country needed to reduce population density in its urban areas.

“To reduce population density, we need to decentralize facilities down to the local level so people don’t need to congregate in urban areas,” he said.

“Dhaka has become overcrowded as people from all over the country rush here for better education, health and work facilities.”

Dr. Luke Parsons, a climate researcher who led Duke University’s research into heat-related labor losses, told Arab News that preventing productivity losses needs to be addressed at the global level. global scale.

“Many laborers working in tropical and subtropical regions, such as Bangladesh, live in areas that are already too hot and humid in the afternoon to work comfortably and safely,” he said.

“Slowing global warming is one of the most important ways to reduce potential future labor losses. As the last 40 years of weather observations have shown us, waiting for warming to slow is costly to the workforce and the global economy.

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