To meet its rising energy demands, Bangladesh is increasingly leaning towards coal to meet its energy shortfall. In fact, the government has planned for its coal generated electricity to go from 2% to 50% of the total energy mix by 2022– and has 23000 megawatts worth of coal projects planned.
And while civil society has protested the construction of the Chinese funded coal 1300 mW coalplant at Payra, and the Indian funded coal plant at Rampal, costing lives, has the Bangladeshi media contributed to the debate on these power plants?
Our analysis of Bangladesh’s media, released last week, found that censorship in Bangladeshi media is common, particularly if the reporting goes against the government or key figures. To date, climate change has not been a controversial enough topic for media that reports on it to be censored- however, with the protests against the power plants, many of which are dependent on foreign funding, this may change rapidly.
A.M. Ahad/Associated Press
A report by the Daily Star on the Rampal Power Plant reads like a press release, stating the features of the Indian company that is investing in the power plant. And while the article does mention in passing the civil society activists and environmentalists protesting the development of the power plant, it does not link the issue to climate change at all.
Another report published by the same newspaper five days prior to the above report, goes into more detail about the protests against the power plant. And while the report cites the impact that the development of the power plant will have in terms of ecology and the environment, there is no link to the climate change policies and commitments Bangladesh has made to the UNFCCC. And while it is encouraging that this reporting is taking place, even though it does not explicitly mention climate change- the report was actually developed by Reuters, not the newspaper in question.
This may confirm another finding from our media analysis- that the capacity to report on climate change, and the data available on its impacts at the local level, are limited. This means that while protests and power plants are reported on, rarely are they linked to climate change.