February 22, 2024, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Climate conferences, COPs and Nepal actions

The Nepal Weekly
June 20, 2023

Conference of Parties or COPs are convened every year to discuss and adopt plans with sharing technical knowledge and financial supports to the climate deficit countries from big countries who pollute more. The grand annual events take place under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a multilateral treaty adopted in 1992.Thus, COP is a continuation of dialogues as a product of Kyoto Conference held in 1994 in Kyoto, Japan.

COPs are where Parties (governments) assess global efforts to advance the key Paris Agreement aim of limiting global warming to as close as possible to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. Parties take decisions on ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and on adapting to the impacts of climate change, on Loss and Damage (which refers to funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by floods, droughts and other climate disasters), and on the means to help countries green their economies and build resilience to climate change -finance, technology and capacity-building.

COPs offer an opportunity to raise the level of attention to the threat of climate change, reflecting the fact that without the private sector, civil society, industry and individuals on board, the world will not be able to adequately tackle the climate crisis. There is no time to lose. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell says “Every tenth of a degree global heating matters. Every year matters. Every choice matters. Every COP matters.”

The awareness of the impacts of climate change and the need for action has led to an exponential increase in the demand for participation from a wide spectrum of stakeholders. Having grown steadily over the past two decades, the conferences are now the largest annual meetings convened by the United Nations. Dignitaries and Heads of State and Government regularly attend as well as tens of thousands of government delegates and representatives of civil society, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and the media. At COPs, climate change leaders, experts and influencers come together to share their stories and solutions at panel discussions, exhibits, cultural events and hundreds of side events.

As said above COP21 had produced ‘Paris Agreement’, an important document of action plan to limit global heating by 1.5 degree Celsius while COP27 held in Egypt in 2022 worked out support suffers ‘Loss and Damage’ caused by climate change effects. It is expected that COP28 to be held in Dubai will carry more on details on ‘Loss and Damage’. Moreover, ‘Stock Taking’ will also be a focus agenda.

The first Global Stocktake of the implementation of the Paris Agreement will conclude at COP 28. Each stocktake is a two-year process that happens every five years, with the aim of assessing the world’s collective progress towards achieving its climate goals. The first Global Stocktake takes place at the mid-point in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs, including Goal 13 (climate action).

High dignitaries from Nepal have participated in the environment and climate summits organised at global level. Then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala had participated in the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Then President Bidyadevi Bhandari participated in the COP24 meeting held in Katowice, Poland in 2018. Addressing the conference, she said that “Himalayan Ranges and high mountains including the Mt. Everest contribute to keeping air and water cool, refreshing and pure. In fact, mountains and oceans form organic linkages to influence climate and weather patterns. These mountains melt slowly yet continuously to recharge and humidify the land. This water recharging system has a prime importance in controlling the temperature of the earth.”

“Value of such natural phenomenon should be realized by the high carbon emitting countries as well as the developed ones and ensure that the environment of mountainous countries is not exacerbated.”

“We are effortful in minimizing the vulnerability of climate change through the design and implementation of model projects as well as through measures such as National and Local Adaptation and Mitigation Plans of Action.”

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba at the World Leaders Summit held as a part of the COP26 held in Glasgow, UK, in2021 said that Nepal remains firmly committed to the implementation of Paris Agreement. We have submitted an ambitious NDC that plans to decarbonize our economy in all sectors. Nepal aims to reach a net zero emission by 2045. We will ensure that 15% of our total energy demand is supplied from clean energy sources and maintain 45% of our country under forest cover by 2030.

With abundant water, forest and biodiversity resources, Nepal can be a leader in sharing clean, green and nature-based climate solutions in the region, he added.

“Rapid warming in the Himalayas poses serious threat to food, water, energy and human security of the entire region. Glacier melting also contributes to the existential threat to the coastal and island countries due to sea level rise.”

“Loss and damage has become a key concern due to increased phenomena of climate induced disasters. This subject must find a place under article 4.8 of the Convention. We call upon the Parties to agree on making Loss and Damage a stand-alone agenda for negotiations and support the framework of additional financing for it. The COP 26 must ensure adequate support for adaptation in the most vulnerable counties by scaling up financial, technological and capacity-building resources.”

“We can deliver on our goals only through quick, direct and easy access to climate finance. We urge the Parties to agree on a clear roadmap for a new collective, quantified and ambitious goal on climate finance before 2025.”

Moreover, Minsters with portfolio of Environment and Forest like Jayadev Joshi, Mithila Chaudhary, Shakti Bahadur Basnet, Ramsahay Prasad Yadav (who is now Vice President of the Nepal) and leading secretaries at the ministries concerned to climate aspect, government agency directors, campaigners had participated in the COP events, sideline meetings to influence and also participated street programmes near the venue.

Nepal had submitted Nationally Determined Contributions (first) in 2016 and Nationally Determined Contributions (second) in 2020 to UNFCCC.  The country has commitments on Sustainable Development Goals as well. Likewise, it has included ambitious programmes in the Periodic National Development Plans. Likewise, Energy White Paper issued in 2018 are taken as the guidelines for climate actions to reduce the effects by utilising renewable energy technologies and human behaviour related to energy aspects.

Recently Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had warned that the unpredictable weather conductions for the recent years such as long-lasting summers, minimum rainfall during monsoon season, and shorter winters have already raised alarms that the temperature of the planet is warming up, now scientists have claimed that the Earth is on the verge of surpassing a critical temperature threshold for the first time in the coming years.

Researchers have claimed that there is now a 66 per cent chance that our planet will surpass the 1.5°C global warming limit by the year 2027. The reports by scientists suggest that the reason behind this is human-induced emissions which lead to changes in weather patterns.

The planet will become warmer with a 1.5°C increase compared to the second half of the 19th century, before the widespread use of fossil fuels if the threshold is crossed.

Even a breach in the threshold for a year is a huge concern as it indicated the planet will continue to get warmer and there are least chances of a slowdown. If the planet’s temperature rises by 1.5°C every decade it would lead to damaging consequences for human life such as prolonged heatwaves, intensified storms, and increased wildfire activity. Thus, the climate actions are too much urgent for the entire planet to save from increasing heat rate.

Moreover, Nepal needs to have easier access to technical support from the world community and also urgent financial supports to implement various actions which support climate actions.