Nepal submits its second nationally determined contribution document to UNThe document, which envisages multi billion dollar actions to reduce emissions, however, focuses on mitigation rather than highlighting Nepal’s adaptation needs, experts say.
Nepal has presented its second nationally determined contribution (NDC) report to the UN outlining its ambitious targets for the next decade to reduce emissions and support vulnerable communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The document submitted to the UN Framework on Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, outlines Nepal’s mitigation efforts—commitment to promote renewable energy, electric mobility and manage forests—but fails to deliver concrete plans to adapt to the effects of rise in global temperatures, experts say.
“That Nepal submitted its NDC within the stipulated deadline sends a positive message to the international community that Nepal, despite being one of the countries least responsible for climate change, is committed to fighting climate change,” Manjeet Dhakal, a member of the NDC working committee, told the Post.
NDCs are considered key to the implementation of the historic Paris Agreement, which set the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Parties to the agreement also agreed to a long-term goal for adaptation which included measures to increase the ability of the world to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, foster climate resilience and development with low greenhouse gas emissions without threatening food production. The first round of NDCs were submitted a year after the Paris Agreement was inked.
Nepal’s new NDC states that by 2030, the country will expand clean energy generation from approximately 1,400 MW to 15,000 MW, of which 5-10 percent will be generated through mini and micro-hydro, solar, wind and bio-energy plants.
The document says that of the total energy generation target, 5,000 MW is unconditional while the remainder is contingent upon funding from the international community.
Nepal has also committed that it will ensure that by 2030, 15 percent of the total energy demand is met with the help of clean energy sources.
“The latest NDC is a strong document covering more sectors and the targets are backed by sound technical assessments. By setting these new progressive targets, Nepal can send a message to the world despite being one of the most vulnerable countries in terms of climate change and a negligible contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, we can also contribute in the fight against climate change,” said Dhakal.
According to the NDC Nepal presented before the UNFCCC secretariat on Tuesday, 25 percent of all private passenger vehicles, including two-wheelers, sales will be in the electric segment by 2025 and 20 percent of all four-wheeler public passenger vehicles that will be sold that year will be electric.
Dhakal, who was also one of the members of the NDC working committee, admits that these targets may look overly ambitious, but they are well within reach of the country if backed by supportive policies.
Vehicle manufacturing companies are shifting to EVs and other some manufacturers are entirely phasing out fossil-fuels operated vehicles. Countries such as India and China have set ambitious targets for e-vehicles and their transition out of petroleum products. These factors indicate that the EV target spelled out in the NDC can be achieved, said Dhakal.
Similarly, By 2030, Nepal aims to develop a 200 km electric rail network to support public commuting and mass transportation of goods.
“We have been doling out billions of rupees on imports of petroleum products even if it means suffering a massive trade deficit. If we want to cut our trade deficit and mitigate emissions, then we have to work towards achieving these targets,” said Dhakal.
“We should have policies in place to achieve these targets. Otherwise, one regressive policy can alter the whole scenario. For utilising generated energy and improving trade deficit, we need more clean energy- operated vehicles. If not, then the rest of the world will be going in one direction while we will be heading elsewhere.”
Ensuring that 25 percent of households use electric stoves as their primary mode of cooking by 2030, installing 500,000 improved cookstoves, especially in rural areas, and installing an additional 200,000 household biogas plants and 500 large scale biogas plants by 2025 are some of the other targets.
According to Prakash Lamsal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Forest and Environment, the targets set by the NDC, look achievable within the timeframe.
“The government strongly believes that these targets can be achieved as they have been set after consultation with various ministries, stakeholders and experts,” Lamsal told the Post. “There will be challenges in implementing the NDC, but we have to work together to achieve these targets.”
The NDC states that by 2030, around 45 percent of the total area of the country will be under forest cover. In terms of waste management, Nepal will treat 380 million litres/day of wastewater and 60,000 cubic meters/year of faecal sludge will be managed by 2025.
The biggest challenge for implementing the NDC is going to be the massive budget required. The NDC states that the cost of achieving Nepal’s NDC conditional mitigation targets is estimated at $25 billion. The cost of achieving unconditional targets outlined in the NDC is estimated to be USD 3.4 billion.
For securing the budget required for the implementation of NDC, the government is to count on financial, technological and capacity-building support from various climate funds, bilateral/multilateral agencies and development partners.
“Besides, we have a regular budget for climate. Likewise, several ministries have budgets connected to climate change actions,” said Lamsal, the environment ministry official. “We can also reach out to the international community to seek support.”
However, climate change experts such as Raju Pandit Chhetri, point out that Nepal’s NDC falls short when it comes to reflecting the country’s realities.
“As one of the lowest carbon-emitting countries in the world and with no historical responsibility, the NDC gives the impression that Nepal has the responsibility of burden-sharing by prioritising it from mitigation lens,” said Chhetri, who has been involved in international climate negotiations for years.
“While the first paragraph of the document portrays Nepal as vulnerable to climate change without playing a part and victim of extreme climatic events, the document goes on to talk about how it plans to contribute in mitigation actions rather than developing adaptation capacities.”
Under the Paris Agreement, countries are responsible for taking climate action on both mitigation and adaptation. According to Chhetri, by focusing primarily on sectoral mitigation targets, the NDC has missed an opportunity to articulate escalating climate impacts and the need for enhanced efforts in the areas of climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, loss and damage assessment and resilience building.
“This seriously jeopardises Nepal’s opportunities to derive benefits from the international climate policy processes towards achieving the national vision of poverty alleviation and prosperity,” said Chhetri.
Nepal contributes only around 0.027 percent to total global emissions, although it is one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, water-induced disasters and hydro-meteorological extreme events such as droughts, storms, floods, inundation, landslides, debris flow, soil erosion and avalanches.
“The NDC does not reflect Nepal’s position on adaptation and loss and damage presented at the international negotiations which have been long-standing priorities for Nepal and other least developed countries.”