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Fossil fuel, tobacco industries need accountability approach

Update: 2016-10-13 09:41:46
Fossil fuel, tobacco industries need accountability approach

Fossil fuel burning and tobacco based industries are increasing day by day in the world and both of these are extremely rising in Bangladesh especially in Chittagong division.

Fossil fuel burning is imposing significant threats through alternating parameters of different environmental components. Furthermore, impacts of tobacco industries on human health and environmental components are also observed.

“The truth is, as most of us know, that global warming is real ad humans are major contributors, mainly because we wastefully burn fossil fuels,” says David Suzuki.

Because of burning fossil fuel, air pollution is occurred and it is a major problem affecting everyone in developed and developing countries alike. It was found from a study which was conducted Nasirabaad industrial zone in Chittagong from January to December, 2014, most of the industries used to burn huge amount of different types fossil fuel and do not use any types of air pollution controller.

Furthermore, these industries are releasing huge amount of carbon-dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur-dioxide and different types of particulate matter (PM) such as PM10 and PM2.5. It also found that, maximum concentration of PM2.5 (μg/m3) (Figure 1) and PM10 (μg/m3) (Figure 2) was increased than standard concentration.

Figure 1: Comparison between standard and observed concentrations of PM 2.5 (µg/m3) according to month from January 2014 to December 2014.

Figure 2: Comparison between standard and observed concentrations of PM10 (µg/m3) according to month from January 2014 to December 2014.

According to Alam, G.M.J. (2009), “air pollution mainly occurs due to burning of fossil fuels like coal, petroleum etc. and associated black smoke. Over 99% of the brick kilns use fossil fuels but don’t comply with the “Brick Kiln Ordinance” and pollute enormous air.”

Moreover, a social survey in the colony around this industrial zone showed that respiratory problems and headache are the frequent diseases. According to Mr. Munir, a shopkeeper besides the main road, "every day huge fog and smoke cover the area and for this passerby and people of this area feel suffocate and cannot work sustainably."

According to Sumit Sen, a farmer of Bandarban, - “due to increasing brick fields in this area, productivity and fertility are decreasing and especially paddy cultivation is reducing at an alarming rate”.

All of this discussion showed a snap of impact of fossil fuel industry in national level in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is not contributing so much to green house gas emission through burning fossil fuel comparative to other countries in the world.

According to International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR4 report, the dramatic increase (from 6.4 Petagrams to 7.7 Petagrams) in carbon emission from 1990 to 2008 is due primarily to a doubling of fossil fuel burning from developing countries.

According to Ioanna Mouratiadou (2016), China, the USA and India are the greatest emitters in terms of cumulated 21st century emissions, comprising almost 50 % of the global total. Furthermore, Takeshita (2009) also said that, due to rapid economic growth and large population size, energy consumption is projected to increase at the highest rates in developing countries, largely in China and India for which emission of greenhouse gas emissions will increase associated with fossil fuel use.

Fossil fuel burning is most responsible to global warming and sea level rise all over the world. IPCC also stated that, there's a more than 90% probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet.

Besides, fossil fuel burning industries, tobacco based industries are also imposing great threats to human life in all over the world.

“Tobacco poses a major challenge, not just to health, but also to environmental sustainability,” says Bellagio (1995).

Huge area of the hill tracts of Chittagong in Bangladesh such as, Bandarban and plain land for example, Lalmonirhut are now under tobacco cultivation. In Lama, Bandarban, among the farmers 80% cultivate tobacco leafs and 20% cultivate other vegetables like paddy, tomato etc.

BaakerAlam, a tobacco farmer said that, “some want to cultivate potato, brinjal and other types of vegetables as like past but absence of cold storage center and improper seed distribution are main hinders”.

Furthermore, because of using different types of pesticides such as, Thiobit, Durban, Ektara and Introfil etc., productivity and fertility of lands are decreasing. Tobacco cultivation does not only damage the agriculture potential but also effect health of workers.

Mahfuza Begum, a worker in tobacco farm said that, “women and child worker start to vomit when they enter into the tobacco field to break down the leaf. Sometimes headache, nausea, disinclination and cough are observed and during collection their hands become red due to contamination of tobacco leaf with skin”.

Other hand, in the time of manufacturing of tobacco products also produces huge amount of wastes. In 1995, the global tobacco industry produced an estimated 2.3 billion kilograms of manufacturing waste and 209 million kilograms of chemical waste which are not bio-degradable. Compounding the extent of this problem is the waste created by cigarette packaging, lighters, matches and other polluting by-products of tobacco use.

The fossil fuel based and tobacco based industries should be accountable as justice to people of all spheres. The fossil fuels industries have been producing massive negative externality by triggering long-term effects of climate change such as, migration, damaging crop production, loss of biodiversity and endangering health as well.

To ensure accountability, economists suggest that fossil fuel industries should be carried out through either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade approach. In carbon tax approach, a carbon tax is a fee-determined to make fossil fuel industries pay for climate damage their fuel use cause by releasing carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere.

Furthermore, in a cap-and-trade policy, government puts a fixed limit on the overall level of carbon pollution from industries. The European Union has a cap-and-trade system since 2005 to cut down greenhouse gas emissions from about 10,000 big industrial polluters.

It is important to initiate a proper way by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to hold the fossil fuel industry legally and financially accountable.

On the other hand, as like as fossil fuel industries tobacco industries should be held liable for their behavior. The tobacco industry should not get off the hook for the dangerous damage resulting from awful business customs and should be liable for the clean-up costs which consequences from worst activities.

It is great sign for Bangladesh that Bangladesh signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in the 56th convention of World Health Organization for discouraging the smoking and using of tobacco product on 16 June, 2003.

Furthermore, Bangladesh government also prohibited smoking in public places and public vehicles and also prohibited advertisement of tobacco product.

Fossil fuel industries and tobacco companies are seriously affecting the human through damaging environment and increasing risk to health. Developed countries should be concerned on accountability of fossil fuel based industries and tobacco companies to ensure the climate justice for all, especially for less developed and low lying developing countries like Bangladesh.

Proper governance and implication at all stages will help to ensure liability and payment from these industries for their destructive activities and it is mandatory for leaving a sustainable world for future generations.

Writer: MD. ArifChowdhury, a research associate, Institute of Water and Flood Management, Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET), Dhaka, Bangladesh, Email: [email protected]

BDST: 1843 HRS, OCT 13, 2016

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