Nepal to raise loss and damage and mountain issues at UN climate summitIn the run-up to COP26 scheduled for 1-12 November, the government has been consulting stakeholders on how Nepal’s participation in the summit could be made effective.
As a country vulnerable to climate impacts, Nepal is all set to strongly raise the issue of loss and damage associated with the effects of climate change during the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled for later this year.
Nepal, which is making preparations for its participation in the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), plans to put forth the issue of loss and damage, which the country has incurred due to climate change, while making its claims for an access to climate finance.
The 26th edition of the global climate change conference will be hosted by the United Kingdom in Glasgow on 1–12 November 2021.
“As we prepare for an effective participation in the event, we have decided to raise the issue of loss and damage for claiming its share of climate funds from the international community,” said Arun Prakash Bhatta, an undersecretary with the Ministry of Forests and Environment. “The issue has not been raised strongly and has not received the attention it deserves. We have several instances where villages have had to relocate elsewhere and communities were displaced because the local water sources dried up, which could also be due to climate change. Such impacts should be discussed and recognised as negative consequences of climate change.”
Many developing countries like Nepal are ill-prepared and poorly equipped to fight the inevitable and often unavoidable impacts of climate change as they cannot do much through adaptation measures.
Poor and developing nations, bearing the brunt of climate change despite their negligible contribution to the global climate crisis, look up to developed countries to compensate against the loss and damage and for technical and financial support in their fight against climate change.
The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts was established at the COP19 UN climate conference in 2013 to address losses and damage associated with climate change impacts, including extreme events and slow onset events, in developing countries. The landmark Paris Agreement in 2015, in its Article 8, also endorsed the role of the mechanism.
The mechanism was further reviewed at COP25 in 2019 when developing countries demanded that it be enhanced and strengthened so as to include additional finance from developed countries. The upcoming COP26 conference in Glasgow will see further discussion on this issue.
“Loss and damages due to climate change have added an additional burden on developing countries and their climate-vulnerable communities,” said Bhatta, the official at the Climate Change Management Division of the Environment Ministry. “If the temperatures continue to rise at the present rate, it will be challenging to adapt to the harsh impacts of climate change even if we receive climate finance. We have to seek loss and damage compensation as international support too.”
In the run-up to the UN climate change event, Nepal government has been organising consultations among various stakeholders on how Nepal’s participation at the conference could be made effective in drawing international attention and support.
According to Radha Wagle, chief of the Climate Change Management Division under the Environment Ministry, the government has been working on plans before, during and after COP26.
“We know that climate change has impacted agriculture, livelihoods, water resources, mountains and economy among other areas,” said Wagle, during a virtual interaction organised by the ministry on Friday. “We have been making preparations by consulting stakeholders from various walks of life so that we can raise the issue in an effective manner.”
“The country’s unique topography with different elevation-based eco-regions, nature-based livelihoods, poverty and marginalisation, and low adaptive and resilience capabilities further complicate climate change impacts,” said Bhatta. “Poor, indigenous marginalised, women, girls, children, disabled, and elderly groups are the most impacted by climate change.”
As a mountainous country, Nepal’s worry further escalates as impacts of climate change are felt strongly in the mountain region, where glaciers are melting at an increased rate due to rising temperatures.
Studies have shown that even if the global temperature rise is limited below 1.5 degrees by the end of the century, as agreed under the Paris Agreement, the temperature rise will be higher in the mountain regions.
Therefore, Nepali’s priority is to draw the attention of the international community towards the adversities faced by mountainous countries and take the lead on the debate on mountain issues by promoting ‘Himalayas for Humanity’ at the conference, according to officials.
“Chances of limiting the temperature rise under 1.5 is nominal as the temperature continues to go up every year. Some studies have shown an even worrisome trend. If mountains are at risk that means the entire humanity is under threat,” said Bhatta. “As a least-developed country, Nepal will be lobbying for limiting the temperature increase below 1.5. If we can’t limit the temperature surge then we can’t do much even if financial support is there.”
The Nepali side plans to push forward the mountain agenda by forming regional alliances of countries facing similar challenges. According to officials, they plan to submit such an agenda during the conference even if it might take years to achieve the goal of gaining global attention.
On the domestic front, the Nepal government has a well-placed institutional structure and policy environment, and is expected to finalise all the climate change related policies by the end of the year 2021.
Besides, Nepal has also prepared its second nationally determined contribution (NDC), outlining its ambitious targets for the next decade to reduce emissions and support vulnerable communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Implementing the nationally determined contribution will require a massive $24 billion for adaptation mechanisms by 2030 and another $25 billion for mitigation.“We cannot always demand international support just by presenting Nepal as a climate victim nation. But there is limited support coming in from the international community which is crucial for implementing activities outlined in the NDC,” said Bhatta. “We have to also showcase our best practices through our indigenous knowledge and practices, community forestry, nature-based solutions, and farmers-managed water resources among others, which the country is doing even with limited resources, for claiming climate funds for building resilience against climate change.”