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Bangladesh Grapples with Coal Dependency, Says Global Study

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Bangladesh is facing a complex transition from coal-based energy, according to the Global Energy Monitor in its Boom and Bust Coal 2024 report published on April 11.

The report, released worldwide, illuminates Bangladesh’s coal energy landscape and stresses the importance of transitioning to renewable energy. It advocates for a shift away from coal-based energy toward renewable sources.

Highlighting Bangladesh’s economic strain due to heavy reliance on imported coal amid fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, the report mirrors similar challenges faced by countries worldwide.

The document further examines coal usage in Bangladesh, noting “a surge of coal plant commissionings marked the final months of 2023 in Bangladesh.”

“1.9 GW of coal capacity came online, a historic high since the country’s inaugural coal-fired power station commenced operations in 2006,” the report states.

“Bangladesh’s coal plants rely heavily on imported coal… and much of its installed capacity remained underutilized throughout the year as several power stations experienced recurrent shutdowns due to fuel shortages,” it adds.

Additionally, the report indicates Bangladesh’s trend of diminishing proposed coal capacity since 2019, suggesting a gradual shift toward cleaner energy sources.

“In 2023, little progress was made on coal proposals, which have steadily dwindled since 2019 and now seem increasingly improbable. The lone project that progressed was the government-backed Maheshkhali power station, which initiated pre-feasibility studies but faced repeated delays in its anticipated commencement,” notes the Global Energy Monitor report.

Flora Champenois, coal program director at Global Energy Monitor, remarked, “Coal’s prospects this year deviate from the norm, as indications point to a reversal of this rapid expansion. However, countries with coal plants slated for decommissioning must expedite the process, and those with plans for new coal plants must ensure they are never realized.

“Otherwise, meeting our targets under the Paris Agreement and reaping the benefits of a swift transition to clean energy will remain out of reach,” she emphasizes.

Sharif Jamil, member secretary of Dhoritri Rokhhay Amra (Dhora) and coordinator of Waterkeepers Bangladesh, stated, “Bangladesh’s economy bears a significant burden from financing, fuel costs, and currency fluctuations associated with current coal-based power plant operations.

“Even operating existing coal plants at full capacity poses challenges for Bangladesh. Proposing new coal plants or continuing with existing ones heightens public health risks and exacerbates climate disruptions, which is fundamentally irrational,” he concluded.

In addition to Global Energy Monitor, the report’s co-authors include the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), E3G, Reclaim Finance, Sierra Club, Solutions for Our Climate, Kiko Network, Climate Action Network (Can) Europe, Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED), Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network (Clean), Waterkeepers Bangladesh, Dhoritri Rokhhay Amra (Dhora), Trend Asia, Alliance for Climate Justice and Clean Energy, Chile Sustentable, Polen Transiciones Justas, Iniciativa Climatica de Mexico, and Arayara.

Beyond Fossil Fuels also contributed to the Turkish version of the report.

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Major American Corporations Eye Investments in Bangladesh: State Minister

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State Minister for Commerce Ahasanul Islam Titu announced on Tuesday (May 28) that major American conglomerates, including Amazon, Chevron, Coca-Cola, and Boeing, are showing keen interest in investing in Bangladesh.

“We are working to streamline the investment process for American companies, ensuring they can operate smoothly without any obstacles,” State Minister Titu told reporters following a meeting with a delegation from the US-Bangladesh Business Council at the Ministry of Commerce.

The minister highlighted that the discussion focused on simplifying investment procedures and removing any barriers that might deter new American companies from entering the Bangladeshi market.

A representative from Amazon attended the meeting, where discussions centered on the potential for Amazon to integrate Bangladeshi products into its global supply chain and enhance the local e-commerce infrastructure. “Amazon is looking into establishing a central warehouse in Bangladesh to facilitate regional and international product distribution,” Titu added.

The US delegation also explored opportunities in energy, digital payments, and startup sectors.

Titu outlined the primary goals of the United States-Bangladesh Business Council: improving market access for Bangladeshi products, facilitating US investments in Bangladesh, and strengthening bilateral relations. These efforts align with the government’s Smart Bangladesh strategy aimed at strategic growth.

Addressing concerns about some American companies withdrawing their investments from Bangladesh’s capital market, Titu emphasized the importance of welcoming international conglomerates. “If Facebook, Amazon, Chevron, Coca-Cola, and Boeing become involved in Bangladesh’s business landscape, it will significantly ease the country’s progress,” he stated.

Titu also mentioned Bangladesh’s scheduled graduation from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) category in 2026 and stressed the importance of securing market access in various countries within the next two years.

He assured that the government is committed to attracting international investors through policy support, emphasizing Bangladesh’s potential as a significant market with a stable government expected for the next five years.

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Bond Market Reforms Key to Investment Growth: Salman F Rahman

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Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman today underscored the need to bolster the country’s capital market to secure funding for investors.

“Globally, the capital market is the primary source for raising finance for investors. However, in our country, businessmen typically rely on bank loans for mid-term investments or expansion. We are working towards improving the bond market,” he stated.

Salman made these remarks following a meeting with an executive business delegation from the US-Bangladesh Business Council at the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Bhaban in the city, sources said.

The meeting was attended by Board Chair of the US-Bangladesh Business Council and President and CEO of Excelerate Energy, Steven Kobos, along with President of the US-Bangladesh Business Council and South Asian Vice President of the US Chamber of Commerce, Ambassador (ret) Atul Keshap, among others.

Speaking to reporters, Salman mentioned the government’s efforts to safeguard the capital market from manipulation. “Share prices depend on the market. The government never interferes in this regard. The primary role of the government is monitoring,” he added.

He also highlighted the importance of institutional investors in strengthening the country’s capital market.

Moreover, Salman noted that US entrepreneurs have shown increased interest in investing in Bangladesh, recognizing the current government’s various development initiatives.

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PM Sheikh Hasina Seeks U.S. Business Support for ‘Smart Bangladesh’ Vision

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called on U.S. businessmen to support Bangladesh’s goal of becoming a developed and smart nation by 2041. Addressing a delegation from the US-Bangladesh Business Council at her official residence in Ganabhaban, she emphasized the importance of their partnership in this transformative journey.

“We aim to become a ‘Smart Nation’ by 2041. Your support in enhancing our global competitiveness and expanding our export base is crucial,” she said.

The Prime Minister highlighted Bangladesh’s imminent graduation from a “least developed” to a “developing” country in 2026, attributing this progress to sustained efforts over the last 15 years. “Our efforts have led to Bangladesh being recognized globally as a ‘Role Model of Socio-Economic Development’,” she stated, citing good governance, the rule of law, rural investment, women’s empowerment, and ICT advancements as key factors.

Sheikh Hasina noted the longstanding economic and developmental partnership with the U.S., which is Bangladesh’s largest export destination and source of foreign direct investment. She expressed optimism about further strengthening this relationship.

“To protect our economy from current pressures, investment—both domestic and foreign—is vital. The implementation of Bida’s One Stop Service (OSS) will facilitate this,” she said, addressing the OSS implementation progress review meeting at the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority’s (Bida) headquarters.

She urged the U.S. business community to invest in Bangladesh’s high-potential sectors, including renewable energy, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, and ICT. “We are establishing 100 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and 28 hi-tech parks, making Bangladesh a prime destination for IT investments,” she added.

Highlighting Bangladesh’s competitive advantages, she mentioned the availability of a young, skilled workforce at competitive wages and the country’s liberal investment policy. She reassured investors of the government’s commitment to improving the investment environment.

In response to the Prime Minister’s address, Bida Executive Member Mohsina Yasmin presented a report on OSS progress, while NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem assured the business community of considering logical amendments to the Customs Act.

Sheikh Hasina underscored Bangladesh’s significant socio-economic achievements, including reduced poverty rates, increased life expectancy, and higher literacy rates, particularly among women. She noted that Bangladesh is currently one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, projected to be the 25th largest by 2030.

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