September 22, 2021, Wednesday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Forthcoming COP 26 in Glasgow, UK, expectations and preparations

The Nepal Weekly
August 10, 2021

The climate leaders around the world are saying that all the people are already living with devastating extreme weather heightened by the changing climate

They admit, even as we work tirelessly to reduce emissions, further change is inevitable. We know that the most vulnerable are at the greatest risk from climate change, and that they have done the least to cause it. Action to address this and build resilience is needed now, before more people lose their lives or livelihoods. The international community must unite and support people who are most vulnerable to the impacts of the changing climate. We need more action to avert, minimise and address the loss and damage that is already occurring from climate change. Plans and more finance need to be put in place to improve early warning systems, flood defences, and build resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid further loss of life, livelihoods and natural habitats. Protecting and restoring habitats is a powerful way to boost resilience to the impacts of the changing climate. They help to build natural storm and flood defences, whilst flourishing ecosystems contribute to sustainable farming and support billions of lives worldwide. All countries should produce an ‘Adaptation Communication’, which is a summary of what they are doing and planning to do to adapt to the impacts of the changing climate, challenges they face and where they need help. These plans will help us learn together and share best practice between countries.

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference. It is scheduled to be held in the city of Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021 under the presidency of the United Kingdom. The conference is set to incorporate the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the 16th meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP16), and the third meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA3).

In light of the worldwide effects of COVID-19, the COP Bureau of the UNFCCC, with the UK and its Italian partners, had decided to re-schedule the conference initially slated for November 2020. Rescheduling the conference ensures that all parties can focus on the issues to be discussed at this vital conference and allows more time for the necessary preparations to take place. We will continue to work with all involved to increase climate ambition, build resilience and lower emissions.

This conference is the first time that Parties are expected to commit to enhanced ambition since COP21. Parties are required to carry out every five years, as outlined in the Paris Agreement, a process colloquially known as the ‘ratchet mechanism’.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries submitted intended nationally determined contributions (NDC), to reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to a “business as usual” scenario. Under the framework of the Paris Agreement, each country was expected to submit enhanced nationally determined contributions every five years, to ratchet up ambition to mitigate climate change. Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the conference of 2020 was set to be the first iteration of the ratchet mechanism. Future iterations will also take into account the “global stocktake”, the first of which is in 2023.

The postponement the conference gave the international community time to respond to the outcome of the United States presidential election, held in November 2020. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, although this could not take effect until 4 November 2020; while his Democratic challengers pledged to immediately rejoin the Paris Agreement and increase ambition to reduce emissions. On January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Accord.

A focus for the negotiations is finalising the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement, called the ‘Paris Rulebook’. The conference must find solutions so that carbon markets can enable greater ambition in mitigation and adaptation actions. We must resolve the issues around transparent reporting to build confidence in the system and support all countries to meet their commitments. And we must broker an agreement that drives ambition from governments over the coming years to keep 1.5 degrees alive. The UN negotiations are consensus-based, and reaching agreement will depend on leaving no issue behind and making sure everyone’s voice is heard.

Nepal with strategic engagement plan

The Government of Nepal (GoN) is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and has ratified the Paris Agreement that was adopted during its 21st session. Nepal, as a Least Developed Country (LDC), has a high stake in the outcome of the UNFCCC’s negotiations process. 

In accordance with the UNFCCC’s provision, Nepal has taken various initiatives in devising appropriate policies, legal instruments, programmes, and institutional and financial arrangements toward climate resilience.

National Climate Change Policy 2019; Environment Protection Act 2019 and Regulations 2020; National Framework for Local Adaptation Plan of Action 2019; Climate Resilient Planning and Budgeting Guidelines 2020; Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) and Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2020 are legal provisions GoN had formulated and brought for actions. I had submitted its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2020 as a part of the Paris Agreement.

Nepal’s second NDC is ambitious and estimated to cost US$28.4 billion, of which Nepal can only manage US$3.4 billion of from its own financial resources. Furthermore, this estimate does not include the costs of adaptation components and the cost of policies, measures, and actions.

In 2021, Nepal plans to communicate its Third National Communication Report, NDC implementation plan/roadmap, National Vulnerability and Risk Assessment, National Adaptation Plan (NAP), and Long-Term Low Greenhouse Gases Emission Development Strategy 2050.

aims to engage more strategically and effectively at the national and international level to raise awareness of the needs and priorities of the country.

Notably, these engagements include the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, climate finance needed for rolling out of its national and international commitments, and the mountain agenda. 

The mountain agenda is critical for Nepal, as glacier melting is not only affecting the livelihoods of millions of people who benefit from the ecosystems of mountains, but it is also threatening the future of humanity by making living conditions more challenging. Therefore, Nepal has an unprecedented opportunity to ensure its heightened international profile on climate change and also leverage and mainstream non-traditional and low-carbon financing.

It is also important to ensure that UNFCCC policies and funding instruments will benefit Nepal. The Government of Nepal aspires to engage national and international partners to be able to strengthen Nepal’s participation in the COP26 in a variety of events, communications, and knowledge management initiatives.

In this regard, the Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoFE) has prepared a UNFCCC COP26 roadmap to systematically engage relevant government institutions and development partners in the process.

The ministry has been conducting meetings and dialogues with stakeholders to prepare the strategic presence and delivery of expressions in the global forum. However, it is to recall that Nepal’s efforts were not enough strong due to consistency in the preparation of delegates and team works in the past. So the government sector may be advised to consider on efficient and experienced representatives to advocate in the country’s favour.  (By R.P. Narayan)