By Ruma Paul
DHAKA (Reuters) - Disaster-prone Bangladesh, battered just weeks ago by a cyclone that devastated its low-lying coast, needs aid from big polluting nations to help it adapt to powerful storms, floods and rising seas, a government adviser says.
The United Nations Development Programme in its latest report last month said Bangladesh is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change and could face water shortages and mass displacement of people.
"The life and livelihood of millions of people in Bangladesh are exposed to already visible and impending dangers of climate change," the government's adviser for the environment, C.S. Karim, told Reuters in an interview on Saturday.
"We will propose the installation of a centre here for wider research on adaptation and mitigation strategies."
Bangladesh has suffered a double blow in the past few months, first from devastating monsoon floods in July-Sept and then two weeks ago when the worst cyclone since 1991 killed about 3,500 people and displaced millions.
"We will call upon developed countries to help us in adapting to climate changes ... will also try to make them realize that it is for them we, the poor nations, are suffering and it is their moral duty to help us," Karim told Reuters.
Bangladesh's recommendations would be placed before United Nations climate talks being held in Bali, Indonesia, from Dec 3-14.
"The whole world must be prepared for the adverse impact of the climate changes. Countries like Bangladesh need support in the form of resources as well as technology to cope with the impacts," said Ainun Nishat, country representative of the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
"As of today, allocation of funds for adaptation is meager. And for that there should be equity in distribution of the resources available for adaptation," he told Reuters.
Environment specialist K.B. Sajjadur Rasheed said: "For encountering the enormous problem of sea level rise in Bangladesh, the country should receive adequate funds from global sources to take measures to protect the coastal population."
He said a sea-level rise of 40 cm (16 inches) in the Bay of Bengal would submerge 11 percent of the country's land area in the coastal zone and displace between 7 and 10 million people.
With only 15 percent of the world's population, rich countries account for nearly half of all global carbon dioxide emissions, with the United States leaving a carbon footprint that is more than 100 times larger than Bangladesh's.
"But the stark reality is that the country needs sufficient funds to respond to the crisis, and the developed countries, in addition to their reducing the carbon emissions content, could contribute towards that end," Rasheed, a former Dhaka University professor of geography and environment, told Reuters.
"Apart from coaxing the developed countries for reducing carbon emission, the two large developing countries -- India and China -- should also be persuaded to reduce their carbon emissions. Ironically both countries are reluctant to do so."
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