Every year Bangladesh suffers from climate related disasters including floods, droughts and salinisation of freshwater supplies leading to the displacement of 100,000’s of people. There are over 40 million people living in highly vulnerable conditions on the banks of the Delta, and the Sundarbans provide a vital buffer zone against the frequent cyclones and storms that pound the Bangladeshi coast
The 10,000 km2 Sundarban mangrove forest in Bangladesh is itself home to around 500,000 people who are dependent on the mangroves for their livelihoods which include growing rice, fishing and tourism. Local protests against coal fired power plants have been met by brutal repression and activists on the ground say it is now difficult for them to campaign against the plants.
In 2016 police acted as industrial security force and opened fire on a demonstration of 1500 unarmed people, killing 4 people and injuring 100’s more. People were protesting against two China-backed power plants at Bashkhali in Chittagong, a location in southeastern Bangladesh near Cox’s bazar port.
Three people were killed in a similar coal-shooting in 2006 in Phulbari in northwest Bangladesh. Coal-finance and coal-business does not only pollute environment and fuel climate crisis but also kill innocent and unarmed people when they protest or speak truth.
Currently Bangladesh produces very little of its electricity from coal and whilst many other countries in the world are looking to transitioning away from coal, banks like HSBC announce new investment into coal-trade in Bangladesh. This would fuel further violence in the country and the region. People are organising against fossil finance.
This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice. Many of the climate strikers taking action aren’t allowed to vote. Imagine for a second what that feels like.
Now imagine what it’s like being from a community already facing the impacts of climate change, watching the potential uprooting of our livelihoods, from fishing to farming and knowing that there are big banks that are going to make all this much worse. Where the decisions are taken thousands of miles away in conferences like the one taking place in Birmingham today.
Wouldn’t you protest too, if you thought doing so could help protect your own future?
We have to go on strike, because we don’t have a choice, in the same way that the organisations protesting outside the HSBC AGM today don’t have a choice. We’ve relied on adults to make the right decisions to ensure that there is a future, we’re asking grown-ups to follow our lead: we can’t wait any longer.
We may not have all of the answers but what we do know is that we need to keep coal, and all fossil fuels in the ground, phase out subsidies for dirty energy production and seriously invest in renewables.
Our world is on fire, we are demanding the transition to a fossil fuel free world now. This is about climate justice and a safe future for all.
This movement had to happen. And now, you adults have a choice, it could start today with HSBC divesting from fossil fuels.
HSBC was the 7th biggest of the banks continuing to bankroll the climate crisis by funneling $115 billion into tar sands, offshore oil drilling, and coal mining projects. Now its time to put pressure on all of them. Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, and JPMorgan Chase all passed the coal-heavy Chinese banks to become the biggest bankers of extreme fossil fuels last year. JPMorgan Chase increased funding to coal mining by a shocking 21 times and quadrupled its financing of tar sands oil.
That report, entitled “Banking on Climate Change” pdf here