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How can green industrialisation help achieve SDGs in Bangladesh?

Photo taken on January 3, 2021 shows solar panels installed on a factory building in Gazipur on the outskirts of capital Dhaka, Bangladesh
Photo taken on January 3, 2021 shows solar panels installed on a factory building in Gazipur on the outskirts of capital Dhaka, Bangladesh Photo : Xinhua

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Green industrialisation as part of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a precondition for sustainable and inclusive growth and is closely related to the following goals: Goal -7 “Clean energy for everyone”: Secure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for everyone; Goal -9 “Industrial and technological innovation and social infrastructure”: By developing robust infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and also expand technological innovation and Goal -13 “Urgent handling of climate change”: Take urgent counter measures for climate change and its impact. To achieve SDGs an uninterrupted energy conversion is necessary where the speedy expansion of alternative energy will pay off for the anticipated dearth of fossil fuel.

Bangladesh is the fastest-growing emerging market in Asia with a yearly GDP growth of about 6.94 per cent (World Bank, 2021), and industry as the sectoral contribution is creating the greatest impact on this anticipated progression. In 2021, the industrial sector contribution to GDP was 33.32 per cent which is growing robustly buoyed by energy, gas, and water resources, and quarrying and excavating sub-sectors. Additionally, facts and figures demonstrate that 38.14 per cent of the population of the country lives in urban areas with an urbanisation rate of 3.05 per cent (2020). The fast urban and industrial growth has steered to increased energy consumption. Achieving the government’s projected Vision 2030 (SDGs) and Vision 2041 needs around-the-clock energy and supply of water that will cause more energy depletion bringing about an additional CO2 release heading in the direction of global temperature rise.

Against this backdrop, the country needs to depend on alternative energy for industrialisation to fight against climate change but instead, it is starting new fossil fuel projects for lowering the price of electricity. Given this, it would be difficult to consider that nearly 100 per cent of the energy will come from renewable sources right now. Neither we will be able to change our energy use instantly nor can the country depend on any single source of energy to meet the increasing demand at this moment. For green industrialization, energy security and optimum energy mix and clean renewable energy is a prerequisite. But addressing these concerns for the growing population, and considering the global environmental issues without hampering continuous economic growth will be very challenging.

The country resides at one of the bottommost per capita energy-consuming economies in the world. Compared to the advanced economies it is producing more with less energy consumption foretelling it to be an energy-efficient economy doing less harm to the environment. Even so, it requires more energy consumption which is the major cause of CO2 emission responsible for the increase in global temperature. If we consider the environmental issues, the country is vulnerable to climate change-related problems as well. Nevertheless, for green industrialisation, an optimum energy mix for Bangladesh is necessary which will reduce pollution and help achieve SDGs.

A sustainable environment necessitates searching for suitable energy sources that are alternatives to fossil fuels energy. Renewable sources i.e., solar, hydro, wind, biomass, and geothermal along with nuclear energy are supposed to provide some solution to the impediments of energy security for green industrialisation and climate change. The introduction of power generation with 20 per cent renewable energy will be more environmentally friendly though it is comparatively costly (The Power System Master Plan, 2016, Bangladesh). 

 Fossil fuel is the leading spring of CO2 emission in the country.  Solar, wind, and other alternative energy-producing techniques are notwithstanding the premium and reasonably priced alternatives to lessen the reliance on energy from fossil fuels.  The energy manufactured from renewable sources is relatively low in Bangladesh. But the electricity production from renewable alternatives is only 3.3 per cent of total electricity production. The use of alternative energy sources, for instance, renewables could be instrumental for clean and sustainable energy exploitation. Energy sources like renewables with upgraded equipment are sometimes cost-competitive in some geographical locations and settings. However, stimulus similar to government subsidies is still essential to launch renewable alternatives.

The National Energy Policy of Bangladesh (2004) postulates that the use of energy has to be for viable cost-effective development safeguarding ecologically comprehensive sustainable resource improvement plans that harms the environment less. The government’s decision to establish more Economic Zones (EZs) to attract more FDI also needs to facilitate the process of sustainable transformation of industrialisation.

The readymade garments (RMG) sector of Bangladesh has brought some revamp in sustainable industrialisation. According to BGMEA, Bangladesh has the greenest RMG industrial units in the world followed by Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka respectively. For green industrialisation, it was mandatory to shift the leather factory to Savar. For green industrial plants, loans of single-digit interest from banks are available to reduce environmental risk.  Bangladesh Bank has mandatory green banking operational actions in this regard.

In pooling together, economic growth in the era of industrialisation has been attained through the overexploitation of natural resources foretelling unforeseen and irretrievable environmental damage and it is true for all economies. For a sustainable future, an implementable green industrial policy framework is indispensable to safeguard the environment. Environmental externalities that spring from industrialisation have cross-boundary effects, therefore coordination among national and international policymakers is expected for a better outcome. The country has considerably improved its electricity coverage though, renewable sources of energy are far from being properly exploited. This signifies renewables in Bangladesh can fill the remaining gaps in the national grid that could connect the most underprivileged populations.


Mowshumi Sharmin is an Assistant Professor at Bangladesh Institute of Governance and Management (BIGM).

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