Climate Change (CC)

Climate change is the biggest emerging environmental challenge to date. Increasing scientific evidence, including the highly acclaimed fourth climate change assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), has reaffirmed that the earth’s atmosphere is already saturated with greenhouse gases, and that additional emissions will lead to disaster on a global scale. Several basic indicators in our surroundings, such as steady rise in temperatures, increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and growing weather or climatic uncertainties, show the collective effects of these changes. Climate change impacts lives and livelihoods, particularly of economically poor and climatically sensitive countries like Nepal.

In Nepal, we have seen our usual winter rains vanish and replaced by dry winters for the last couple of decades. Farmers have observed changes such as early flowering and ripening of crops and fruits by an average of two weeks. Southerly winter fogs have extended to Himalayan foothills, and haze is more intense over Nepal’s mountain regions. These anecdotal evidences indicate that climate is changing in Nepal, but further scientific validation is required.

Although Nepal’s share in polluting the atmosphere is negligible, its physical characteristics, geographic position, topography, and weak socio-economic conditions make it a highly vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change. Lack of information on the looming crisis resulting from climate change and the inability to develop viable adaptation measures to address these crises are key concerns for Nepal. Moreover, poverty and difficult terrain conditions serve as bottlenecks for addressing climate change. Thus, climate change has emerged as yet another hurdle to Nepal’s progress in the path of development and nature and conservation.

The general principle is that any natural or human-induced risks affect the weaker, poorer, or marginalised people the most. This is because their level of exposure to risk is higher and their ability to cope with the stresses is lower. Thus, Nepal’s poorly developed districts and socioeconomically marginalised families are more prone to the impacts of climate change. How can we best cope with the challenges imposed by climate change? Educating the public on emerging issues of climate change is a first step. Assessment of risks and vulnerabilities at the local level is essential to plan and implement adaptation and mitigation policies. This, however, can only be achieved by overcoming three challenges: investing in research and education, securing international funds that are set aside for disbursement to vulnerable developing countries, and placing the issue of climate change on national priority.

Given Nepal’s geophysical conditions, it can benefit by:

  • promoting water saving technologies, models and practices
  • preventing erosion and soil loss through improved land-use practices promoting research and education on climate change
  • developing alternative road access, such as ropeways
  • expanding forest cover and participating in carbon trading
  • setting policies to promote and transfer efficient renewable energy technologies.

NTNC’s work on climate change includes raising awareness on the impact of climate change on biodiversity, natural resources and livelihoods. NTNC also advocates international policies that favor community adaptation and mitigation in Nepal.

Kyoto: Think Global, Act Local
The project ‘Kyoto: Think Global, Act Local’ has been extended to 2009 after the Dutch Government agreed to provide funding for two years for its fourth phase starting mid-2007.
Accordingly, NTNC signed an agreement with ICIMOD, the regional partner of the project, and will implement the project in Nepal. Some key activities of the project are follow-up biomass survey through active participation of communities in Lamatar-Lalitpur District, Ilam District, and Manang District; advocacy and networking with national government and other agencies; and dissemination of research findings among the public.

Contribution to Policy Dialogues
Based on findings of the Kyoto: Think Global Act Local” project, NTNC supported MFSC in preparing the R-PIN (Readiness Project Idea Note) and submitting it to the World Bank in response to the Bank’s call for proposals from developing countries to participate in REDD preparedness initiative. The R-PIN proposed a budget of US$ 1 million for various capacity building components. KTGAL research findings and experiences proved very useful in developing the proposal.

NTNC also contributed to the dialogue for developing Nepal’s view on REDD policy processes as per the decision of the Bali Conference. As part of the consultation process, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MOEST) hosted consultation meetings among government and nongovernment agencies working in forestry and climate change to reflect Nepal’s priorities and strategies in the process. Accordingly, MOEST submitted their viewpoint to UNFCCC Technical Committee in March 2008.

Awareness Raising on Climate Change
On request from local and national organizations to raise awareness on climate change issues and impacts, NTNC researchers presented papers at numerous local, regional and national seminars and workshops held in various parts of the country.