Ata Mojlish, 28, was born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where he witnessed “very evident climate change” throughout his life. Mojlish, who moved to the US seven years ago and visits Dhaka annually, said the Bangladeshi capital regularly sees heatwaves, cyclones, flooding, and “rain that never happened” before.
So when General Electric announced plans to supply liquefied natural gas projects, which exacerbate climate change, in his home country, Mojlish felt compelled to say something. An artist by trade, he and a small group of other Bangladeshis visited GE’s headquarters in Boston on Wednesday to show the impacts the company’s decisions have halfway around the world.
Mojlish and other artists and activists walked into One Financial Center carrying artwork and signs. Before they could get through the second set of glass doors, building security turned them away. Demonstration organizers said this was not the first time the group had been kept out of a building.
The small group remained outside on the street facing the building, holding their art so people inside would be confronted by the signs and artwork.
Mojlish said many people in Boston simply don’t know the global scope of the company’s pollution: “GE is doing such a good job greenwashing … people of Boston are not aware as they should be.”
Bangladesh has always been an area prone to natural flooding, but the situation has gotten far worse with climate change. The United Nations labeled the South Asian country as climate-vulnerable in 2021.
Its capital, Dhaka, is already one of the world’s most densely-populated cities, and is becoming even more crowded as people from rural villages seek refuge in urban areas as sea levels rise and rivers flood.
Some rural towns are “simply underwater,” Mojlish said, and “do not exist anymore.”
GE Vernova, the company’s portfolio of energy businesses, plans to supply liquified natural gas projects in southeastern Bangladesh. On its website, GE Vernova touts itself as “leading a new era of energy — electrifying the world while simultaneously working to decarbonize it.”
Many Bangladeshis see matters much differently.
“[GE] cannot greenwash themselves and get away with it,” Mojlish said. “Our eyes and our ears and our ideas, everything is focused on them.”
A GE spokesperson said the company is “committed to strong, concerted action to decarbonize the energy sector while increasing access to more sustainable, reliable, and affordable energy in countries such as Bangladesh.”
GE, which works in conjunction with the Bangladeshi government, has also constructed several dozen wind turbines in Bangladesh.
Mojlish said that, even though LNG is cleaner than coal, it’s still a polluter. Bangladeshi climate activists say they want more renewable energy investments, like wind, and not new fossil fuel projects.
Debashish Chakrabarty, a Dhaka native whose work was displayed at the Boston demonstration, said he too has witnessed the effects of climate change on his home country — a years-long “chain reaction” as rising sea levels force farmers and away from their homes and into low-paying labor jobs in the city.
“There’s a climate migration already happening,” Chakrabarty said.
Mojlish said it’s his responsibility as an artist and Bangladeshi who has lived the effects of climate change to share that experience with people in Boston.
Mojlish’s artwork, a diptych, a two-paneled work of art, depicts a wind turbine and an LNG port — both scenes known well to those living in southeastern Bangladesh.
Mojlish says he imposed pictures of local residents’ faces to emphasize that the effects of climate change are happening now. He added that the art is meant to feel unsettling and foreign, the same way GE’s operations in Bangladesh feel to those living there.