Nepal News: Managing climate change has been one of the most serious challenges of the twenty-first century. Most scientific bodies have projected that if the global temperature rises 2 degrees Celsius above the level of 1990, it will cause drastic changes in weather patterns, extinct several species, and introduce new diseases among others. Countries of the world have officially, under the umbrella of the United Nations, been battling to address the threats of climate change since 1988. The United Nations General Assembly through its 1988 resolution A/RES 43/53 showed its concerns that certain human activities could change global climate patterns, threatening present and future generations with potentially severe economic and social consequences and thereby declared the importance of protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind. Nation-states of the world have been continuously holding global conferences at least 2 times a year ever since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had been established in 1992 that came into being in 1994.
Over these last twenty years some momentums have been achieved and progress has been made on technical and funding issues albeit there is huge gap on political issues. In less than two years period UNFCCC was established and it was ratified almost universally. In another 3 years the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated and adopted in 1997 that came into being with binding quantified targets for developed countries but with no any specific commitments for developing countries as it has been founded on the principle of common but differentiated and historical responsibility. The Protocol introduced three flexible mechanisms: emission trading scheme (ETS), joint implementation (JI) and clean development mechanism (CDM). The rationale behind establishing these mechanisms was twofold: to allow the countries meet their targets by buying additional credits if they exceed their assigned quotas and to allow countries to sell the excess credits that they have not used. In other words, it was the initial attempt of commodification of carbonto build up the theory of carbon capitalism. Indeed, Kyoto Protocol was able to make carbon a commodity which could be bought and sold in the market where rich countries are the usual customers who buy ‘hot air’ for their rights to pollute and the poor are the sellers of carbon with desperate hopes of utilizing the money to turn their economy green.
Of the three flexible mechanisms, CDM is conjectured by many to be a boon in the relentless fight against climate change because under CDM the developed countries run green projects in developing countries and earn credits which they can use to meet their capped limits. CDM looks promising because on the one hand it supports the green projects of developing countries to help developing countries move towards green and low carbon economy and it provides opportunity to earn credits for the industrialized countries that are desperately in need of credits to meet their assigned capped quotas on the other. Indeed, it seems that it was one of the greatest innovative mechanisms of the time. It has already stimulated the interests of China, India, Mexico and Brazil. A significant number of CDM projects have been under operationin these largest and great-power developing countries because CDM has been a source of new fund and technology transfer even if there is doubt that CDM can create win-win situation because it allows the industrialized countries to relax their own national emission reductions. It is also unclear whether developing countries have really been benefitting and transforming their agriculture, transport and energy into low carbon technology.
Critics point that CDM board is in desperate need to be improved. The evidence confirms that the win-win goal of CDM is being compromised. For instance, the approval of two controversial mega projects in India: a new coal fired power plant and a hydro power plant which had made headlines because the former’s no contribution in reduction of greenhouse emissions and latter’s significant contribution in harming and displacement of the local population. The transparency of the CDM projects are also rather limited because the processes of registration and granting certified emission reductions (CERs) are not made public. The lack of transparency may compromise the objective of the CDM by granting excess credits to the donor countries vis-à-vis excess quotas to the host countries. Making it transparent and timely reviews of its performance and effectiveness of upholding its objective will make CDM more vibrant and effective mechanism for translating it into a prominent mechanism of climate capitalism.
Whatever its merits and demerits are, Nepal can also host a number of CDM projects provided that Nepal is one of the poorest and least developing countries in the world. Nepal can access to all kinds of subsidies and funding under the global climate change regime’s mechanisms. However, compared to countries mentioned above and many other LDCs, there are barely a few CDM projects under progress in Nepal. There is a dire need of such projects in Nepal where the impacts of climate change have been incrementally taking tolls on Nepalese agriculture, ecosystem, andbio-diversity. There have been noticeable changes in weather patterns such as unintended frequent droughts and prolonged precipitations causing floods, landslides to the huge damages of material and physical assets along withvisible negative impacts upon flora and fauna and humanlives. Recent examples include the intense drought of Chitwan, flood of Seti River by glacier disruption and melting snow from mountain peaks. The intense drought in Chitwan has resulted into very low production of crops. It has raised extremely significant question of farmers’ ability to appropriate and timely adaptation to grow crops if hard hit by the incrementally looming impacts of climate change. The inability of farmers’ adaptation would leave them in limbo if the state’s institutions fail to intervene and deliver required supports for locally suitable adaptation.
While local adaptation such as agricultural households management techniques that involve water storage and less water use, crop diversification from more water needed crops to less water needed crops, infrastructure development in safer places for housing, or anything that improves the resilience during fluctuating climatic conditions, the traditional approaches of farming are seen to be less effective in the increasing impacts of climate change. Strategic intervention for the adaptation has been very necessary now which has tickled the alarm clock to draw the attention for resilient responses. Some examples of strategic adaptation include the direct construction of infrastructure, capacity building, disaster relief planning or a host of different methods that increase national resilience to the potential impacts of climate change on agriculture, ecosystems and human populations. The government as well as associated program such as NAPA should come up with concrete plans to help vulnerable societies to combat against climate change but perennial political volatility, frequent changes of bureaucrats from one office to another, lack of proper climate change knowledge among bureaucrats, politicians and commoners, widespread corruption within government sectors, unavailability of actual data of impacts of climate change, the topology of Nepal have been constraints in combating climate change through adaptation. Yet, these excuses cannot prevent the climate change challenges from occurring, therefore, both effective autonomous and planned adaptation options must be carried out simultaneously with constant monitoring of national level strategic plan to make it more effective and reduce the rampant corruption to allow the funding reach the target regions and groups.
By Chandra Lal Pandey : who is a PhD Candidate at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. His research focuses on international climate change politics and policy making. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on the mountain and climate related issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last two years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>