Beginning at home

  • Attending COP24 without research and preparation will be futile

Nov 20, 2018-

It is no secret that climate change is now a global emergency and that Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to its effects. In fact, the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveals that there are only a dozen or so years in which we can change our economies drastically so that the effects of global warming can be kept within manageable limits. In our case, droughts are lasting longer, glaciers are melting, floods are occurring at the wrong time and frequently, and disrupted long-term weather patterns are squarely affecting agriculture. 

In addition toclaiming lives and displacing scores of people, these incidences run the danger of making more than half of our population that is engaged in agriculture bereft of their source of income and food. Although the government seems to acknowledge this fact and has drafted policies to this effect, we have yet to realise the gravity of the situation. National interest and security have become the recent buzzwords, but mere rhetoric will not help unless the government realises that the biggest threat to them will eventually come from the effects of climate change that is likely to affect our country disproportionately. 

As the government prepares to represent Nepal at the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), it is time to reflect how truly committed we are to fighting climate change. A recently published report by the Nepal Climate Action Network South Asia suggests that the government’s commitments may be merely ‘dressed-up tokenism’. It highlights how, despite claiming to adopt comprehensive plans to address climate change, Nepal ‘is actually moving in the reverse, non-renewable direction’. The report reveals the inconsistencies between government rhetoric and implementation. For example, despite passing ‘Nepal’s National Climate Change Policy 2011’, there was a 100 percent increase in diesel and petrol imports in fiscal 2016-17 compared to the import and consumption in 2010-11. 

At the heart of the gap between policy and implementation is a lack of investment in researching the effects of climate change in Nepal. We require a robust institutional setup--stocked with experts from various stakeholder groups--dedicated to researching the effects of climate change. While they exist in private institutions and think tanks, the government requires its own panel of experts to guide its decision-making if it is serious about tackling this issue. Perhaps due to an absence of these institutions and a thriving research-driven culture, we continually attend these conferences with a limited capacity to contribute to global discussions on emerging technologies and approaches. 

This initiative could also help ensure that the climate change agenda is cross-sectional and intra-ministerial; conversations about climate change do not have to be confined to conversations led by the Ministry of Forest and Environment or to international conferences on environment-related concerns, they must shape developmental and economic policies as well. 

As the Nepali delegation to COP 24 led by President Bidya Devi Bhandari will leave in a few weeks, it is imperative that they arrive in Poland with enough preparation and commitment to ensure that the conversations, plans and strategies discussed at the conference will return home with them for implementation.

Published: 20-11-2018 07:44

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