Go green and prosper: Can Bangladesh grow without damaging the environment?

If Bangladesh wants to develop any further, it must increase its production of electricity. But how? Steven Cutts sums up the various options available to the country

Thursday 02 December 2021 00:01 GMT
Labourers unload coal from a cargo ship in Dhaka
Labourers unload coal from a cargo ship in Dhaka (AFP via Getty Images)

For many years, the Indian subcontinent barely featured on the economic radar of the English speaking world. That time has gone. Following a protracted period of strong economic growth, several governments in the subcontinent now find themselves on the threshold of a new era or sustained prosperity. But prosperity comes with a price tag of its own with damage to the environment being but one of them.

Recovering from its independence in 1971, the economy of Bangladesh was based largely on agricultural products. In some circles, the country was regarded as a basket case. However, by the early 21st century a new picture has emerged. In 2019, GDP per person was running at $1,856, significantly higher than the $1,285 seen in Pakistan and by some criteria, even higher than the aspiring super power to the south, India.

Average life expectancy in Bangladesh had advanced to 72 years by 2019 having increased by a full seven years since the millennium. Overall GDP growth has averaged 6 per cent for most of the past 20 years and it is probably worth noting that the figures for mobile phone ownership exceeded the human population in 2019.

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