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News Commentary: COP-28: Who saves humanity from climate crisis?

2023 Dec 07, 11:42,

(Narayan Prasad Ghimire)

 Climate change is a global menace with disproportionate effects and impacts on the countries for their availability of resources capacity to climate action, and geographical specificity. As to other countries, the erratic climate events have walloped Nepal for years with growing intensity and scale of late.

Climate scientists and researchers have pointed out unusual patterns of rains and temperature causing extreme events like floods in Melanchi, Sindhupalchowk, and landslides and floods in the districts once known as arid regions- Manang and Mustang of Nepal. The landslides and floods caused massive loss and damage.

In addition to these, the drying up of water sources and the presence of mosquitos transmitting new diseases in the upper hilly and cold areas in the wake of rising temperatures are reported in the Nepali media. Melting snow, receding glaciers, and increased likelihood of GLOF are other serious threats Nepal is facing. The mountain, which is called the world's water tower, is under utmost stress owing to rising temperature. Plagued by such extremes, Nepal is struggling to secure financial assistance for its climate action- adaption and mitigation, and lately for loss and damage.

In this connection, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' has returned home after attending and addressing the UN climate change summit, COP-28, being held in Dubai, UAE. Dahal reminded the world about the problem, plight, and pain caused by climate change. He relayed a clarion call from the mountain: 'Who saves us (Nepal and the world) from climate crisis'?

Notably, with the address of the Prime Minister, Nepal has prided itself on its presence in the COP-28. The government has also argued that it was a strong presence.

Of course, Nepal was able to have a pavilion on its own at COP-28 which is the first of its kind. It is worth noting that the Prime Minister's address was further substantiated by UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, saying that 'Nepal's mountains were crying for help'! Earlier, Guterres had visited Nepal and taken stock of the lived experience of those facing climate crisis in the mountain region. It enriched his speech, and his address further elated the Nepal and Nepali teams.

PM Dahal shared the plight that despite not having any role in GHG emissions, Nepal was bearing the brunt of climate change. Reasoning it, he sought assistance for Nepal to cope with the climate catastrophe.

As he arrived home, Dahal expressed the belief that Nepal would be prioritized in the list of countries to receive compensation for the climate-induced loss and damage.

According to Manjeet Dhakal, advisor to the LDC Chair, the COP-28 marked a significant start by adopting the historic decision on the Loss and Damage Fund on day one, accompanied by record-breaking pledges. He however expressed worry over minimal progress seen on crucial priorities.

Now, the ongoing COP-28 is in the second week with heightened negation. Intense dialogue and debates are going on among the developed and industrial countries, emerging economies, and LDCs, among others on the same thorny issues of reduction of burning fossil fuel- to 'phase out' or 'phase down' and how just it could be.

Different groups are seeking proper responsibility and commitment to cope with the catastrophe. As rich and industrialized countries are accused of being historically responsible for such rising temperatures, they are also for incorporating the emerging economies on equal footing.

It is positive that renewed pledges are made for climate action, but non-implementation of the past commitment by the rich ones to mobilize 100 billion dollars every year by 2020 leaves climate observers with doubt.

Cautious optimism

Climate scientist Dr Ngamindra Dahal, who has been observing the COPs for years, commented that the present summit, COP-28, is comparatively better. "So far, the Loss and Damage Fund making headway to operationalization with the renewed pledges are appreciative. Nepal's ability to host a pavilion on the sideline of COP-28 and draw international attention to the plight and blight of climate change it is facing is worth noting."

At the same time, Dr Dahal made cautious optimism, "The COP-28 is also a kind of global political event. Superpower and rich ones' behavior toward LDCs and poor countries may determine the success though the Loss and Damage Fund comes into operation."

He emphasizes making effective the collective bargaining from the concerned bloc as LDCs in addition to an individual presence at such events. The modality of the transfer of funds to Nepal will be significant on how much monetary assistance Nepal receives for climate action, Dahal viewed.

Expert on climate change and advisor to LDC Chair, who is also involved actively in the ongoing COP-28 negotiation, Manjeet Dhakal, said, "Many unresolved issues, especially guiding emissions reduction for a 1.5°C target and mobilizing support for adaptation, highlight the urgent need for climate action."

Effective climate diplomacy warranted

In this regard, Nepal's former permanent representative to the UN, Madhuraman Acharya, pointed out the need for adequate homework within the country. Although documents were prepared, Nepal could do more to create an atmosphere to make other countries mull the seriousness of the climate crisis and its impacts in Nepal, Acharya viewed, saying, "Only address in the international forum is not enough. The international community could be made aware by organizing mega events within the country too. Such event before the summit can exert more pressure on foreign countries."

In a question about how Nepal's climate diplomacy could be powerful in the ongoing negotiation phase, Acharya said in the negotiation team, there should be persons having adequate knowledge and expertise, especially on three fronts- international law; climate change; and foreign affairs- so that Nepal can make its presence and stand more pressing and persuasive.

He expressed worry why the much-hyped 'Sagarmatha Sambad', which was said to be organized to sensitize widely the world on climate change impacts in Nepal, was postponed time and again.

As the entire earth and humanity are crying for help in the face of the climate crisis, how the world leaders try to do justice is awaited to see.


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