Climate Change Conference Call For Climate Action

During the State visit of the President of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, on 12-13 October 2019, the President, in his statement, informed China's clear understanding on Nepal's special concern on climate change, and has supported appropriate demands related to climate change commitments.

Oct. 25, 2019, 10:56 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 13 NO 06 ,Oct.18 –07 Nov., 2019(Kartik.01, 2076) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

Impacts of climate change have been well documented in the recent years. Last year Greta Thunberg, a 16-year Swedish girl, called for school strike for climate, named 'Friday for future'. Within a few weeks, it took broader shape and became a climate campaign. Millions of people have joined climate strike in over 160 countries. Ms. Thunberg called upon the world leaders to 'listen to the scientists' and take urgent action to address climate change impacts in several fora, including European parliament and 23 September Climate Action Summit, called by the UN Secretary-General to 'raise ambition and increase climate action' to contribute to achieve, inter alia, the goals of the Paris Agreement. In September 2019, people of all ages joined this call (Friday for future) and urged leaders to declare 'climate emergency' in many countries. Large number of people gathered in the streets to observe 'climate rally'. Nepalese youths also joined this global movement and observed every Friday for climate action. It has created lots of awareness globally, urged government and politicians to take actions, and contributed to take decisions to implement climate change actions.

Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 25th session), Kyoto Protocol (KP, 15th session) and the Paris Agreement (PA, 2nd session) will meet in Santiago, Chile from 2 to 13 December 2019 to decide on key elements of the agenda items for their effective implementation. Nepal is a Party to this Convention, KP and PA and will be obliged to implement any decisions made in Chile.

Recalling the emphasis and provisions of the 2019 national policies on climate change, environment and forests, and also 2019 separate Acts on environment and forests, Nepal may have greater interests in adaptation and loss and damage, mitigation (emission reduction), finance, technology, capacity building, gender and climate change, nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and clean development mechanism. As per the provisional agenda, two high-level segments will be organised in Santiago on 2 December 2019 for the Heads of State or the Government, and 10-11 December for ministerial levels. Statements of the Heads of States or Government, as in Paris in 2015 and Katowice in 2019, will provide guidance for better outcomes of these sessions. In addition to making statements on 10-11 December, ministers may be engaged in resolving contentious issues, if any, and showcase 'political mileage'.

In Katowice (CoP 24), Poland in 2018, Parties decided Paris Agreement 'rule book', an operating manual needed for 'global deal' on emission reductions. Poland has organised CoPs three times (2008 in Poznan, 2013 in Warsaw, and 2018 in Katowice) and was instrumental in resolving issues. However, Katowice climate change conference did not 'welcome' the IPCC special report on the impacts of 1.50C but 'invited' countries to make use of the report in subsequent discussions at the UNFCCC.

The UN Secretary-General organised Climate Summit on 23 September to encourage world leaders for climate ambition. Politicians, delegates and stakeholders have heard the message of young people to protect their futures and respond to climate change according to science. The Costa Rica organised pre-CoP25 in San José on 8-10 October 2019 which may bridge 23 September and CoP25. Participants were urged to raising ambition urgently as implementation of current national climate actions would lead to global warming of 30C. Realising climate change a real threat, several countries have set targets to be 'carbon neutral' by 2050. President of Chile announced its intention in June 2019 to release its 'decarbonisation plan' ahead of CoP25. In New York and San José, climate vulnerable countries, in particular, have urged the world leaders to raise ambition on climate actions.

The President of Nepal, Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari in her statement on 3 December 2018 in Katowice, informed the international community about the impacts of climate change in Nepal, including a plan to review national policy and NDC with a long-term strategy. The Government has released a climate change policy (2019) (https://www. spotlightnepal.com /2019/09/29/climate-change-policy-2019-towards-climate-resilient-economic-prosperity/). She expected support and cooperation to climate vulnerable countries. After Katowice Climate Change Conference, the President inaugurated the Gufadanda Climate Conference which issued 10-points Sindhupalchowk declaration to, inter alia, integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies at the national, provincial and local levels. The President also inaugurated a Government-organised national workshop on 'Environment Conservation and Climate Change' at Nepalgunj on the occasion of the World Environment Day, 5 June 2019 and urged the government to make necessary strategy to guarantee people's right to live in a clean environment, launch awareness programme on climate change at the local level and plant saplings to reduce CO2 emission (http://therisingnepal.org.np/news/31813). In addition, Nepal has raised climate change issues, in particular the climate change impacts, in relevant national and international fora, including in September 2019 in New York.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has planned to organise Sagarmatha Sambad (Dialogue) on 'Climate Change, Mountains and Future of the Humanity' in Kathmandu on 3-4 April 2020 (http://www. hakahakionline.com/en/11231/sagarmatha-sambaad-2020-on-april-3-4/) to exchange experiences and achievements in fighting climate change, develop a common understanding about climate crisis, political leadership and 'will power' to cope with the crisis efficiently.

In addition to the President's info on NDC revision with a long-term strategy, Nepal has made commitment through the 2019 Climate Change Policy to make available the Third National Communication report to the UNFCCC secretariat by 2019, and update the NDC that was submitted in 2016 while being a Party to the Paris Agreement. However, the Government has organised a consultation workshop in August 2019 in collaboration with the NDC partnership and has planned to launch Partnership Plan at CoP25. The National Adaptation Plan (NAP) formulation process was paused for two years and the Government has recently organised consultation programmes at the provincial levels. In the new set-up, climate change initiatives are publicly unshared.

During the State visit of the President of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, on 12-13 October 2019, the President, in his statement, informed China's clear understanding on Nepal's special concern on climate change, and has supported appropriate demands related to climate change commitments. The President has committed to protect Himal, the Sagarmatha, in collaboration with Nepal by addressing climate change issues. The joint statement issued on 13 October 2019 recognised the Mount Everest/Zhumulangma a symbol of friendship, and agreed to 'promote cooperation in different fields, including addressing climate change and protecting the environment'.

Issues of snow-melting, glaciers retreat or change in agriculture and natural resource production or adverse impacts on biodiversity, health and water resources is much related to the increased greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions. While adopting the UNFCCC in May 1992, USA emitted about one-fourth of global total GHGs emissions. Now, China emits over one-fourth of total emissions (about 28 percent) while emissions from USA has declined to around 15 percent. It is expected that China will soon declare the 'peaking year'. As a major GHGs emitter at present, it should take leadership in addressing climate change impacts.

No doubt, a country requires knowledge-based team to champion in climate change negotiations. The team should have at least a diplomat, subject specialist and a person well-versed in international law. Nepal practiced several years to mobilize a 'core negotiating team' to develop country capacity in the UNFCCC process. With the understanding that negotiation should benefit the country, the team was composed of government officials, theme-based experts and knowledge-based enablers based on government decision. This mechanism worked for about a decade and now scratched. People have started raising concerns on tangible outcomes of immediate past years in benefiting Nepal from UNFCCC process, and on country priorities on climate change.

As mentioned above, Parties to the UNFCCC, KP and PA may make decisions on several agenda items in Santiago in CoP 25. Prior to such sessions, Nepal adopted a 'culture of country preparation' a decade ago to benefit Nepal from adaptation, carbon trade, climate finance and capacity building. Nepal continued to share her country achievements on adaptation experiences during the CoP sessions and secured significant resources through the Convention financial mechanisms such as LDC Fund, Adaptation Fund and Green Climate Fund, including bilateral and multilateral sources.

Nepal served as the SBSTTA rapporteur, led LDC Expert Group and Adaptation Fund Board, and voiced in Loss and Damage Committee. At present, previous efforts of developing country capacity, representing in different UNFCCC constituted bodies, sharing knowledge, experiences and learning, agreeing on country priorities, separating climate change issues for documentation and decision, and making delegate(s) responsible to follow-up specific agenda item that are relevant to national priorities might have been 'derailed' as no information is publicly available. Few Nepali contributed in negotiation process being a delegate of the African countries. The decade-long experience and follow-up in the CoP process dictates to urge delegate(s) to 'self-determine' on what, where, when and how to negotiate on agenda items to 'reduce GHGs emissions' and ensure resource-flow to adapt to and build resilience to climate change impacts that climate vulnerable poor people are increasingly facing from 'highlands to lowlands' Nepal.

batu uprety111.jpg

Batu Uprety

Former Joint-Secretary and Chief of Climate Change Management Division, Ministry of Environment (then), and former Team Leader, National Adaptation Plan (NAP) formulation process. E-mail: upretybk@gmail.com

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