Nepal organised the high-level roundtable discussion on "Call of the Mountains: Who saves us from the Climate Crisis?" on 02 December 2023 during the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (CoP28), 18th session of the CoP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP18), and 5th session of the CoP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA5) held at Dubai, UAE from 30 November to 12 December 2023. Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal reiterated in different events at Dubai, inter alia, the record level climate-induced disasters, informed '69 percent of deaths caused by climate-induced disasters in LDCs in the last five decades', and urged for ending 'climate injustice to Nepal', 'protecting the mountains and people', stopping the 'war against nature and humanity', saving 'mountains tortured by rising temperature', and making 'double the adaptation finance by 2025' and so on. The Prime Minister also urged to initiating a dialogue on mountain and climate change. The UN Secretary-General has reiterated his on-the-site experience about the adverse impacts of climate change on snow-melting and glaciers' retreat at the Climate Summit and high-level round-table discussion at Dubai.
Recalling the news coverage and CMA5 decisions on global stocktake and adaptation, this call has been heard by the climate change negotiators. As water is one of the severely affected resources from climate change and climate-induced disasters in water sector are pronounced in the land-linked mountainous Nepal, decisions related to the mountain and water resources deserves special attention for the Nepali people.
Article 14 of the Paris Agreement provisions for periodically taking stock of its implementation to assess the collective progress to achieve the objectives of the Agreement. It also provisions to assess the means of implementation and support. The Paris Agreement specified to undertake the first global stocktake (GST1) in 2023 and every five years thereafter unless otherwise decided by the CMA.
Heads of States and Governments of 154 Parties provided political guidance to the negotiators. In the last three days of the Conference, ministers made several rounds of negotiations and agreed on 13 December to effectively implement the Paris Agreement by adopting the outcome of the GST, and matters relating to adaptation, mitigation and finance etc. The GST1 outcome calls for updating and enhancing actions at home. The GST1 held at Dubai recognised, inter alia, the "critical role of protecting, conserving and restoring water systems and water-related ecosystems in delivering climate adaptation benefits and co-benefits ..", and noted the "importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including .. mountains and cryosphere ..". The GST1 calls Parties, inter alia, to "tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling energy efficiency by 2030, accelerating phase-down of unabated coal power, net zero emission energy systems and utilising zero- and low-carbon fuels, and zero- and low-emission technologies .. and phasing-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies ...' etc.
Domestic actions are urgently required to implement the GST call to reduce greenhouse gas emissions towards limiting to 1.50C. Decisions encourage Parties to implement, inter alia, nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation, including in the mountains. Mountain and climate change is expected to get momentum after the expert dialogue that will be held in June 2024 under the 'science and technology stream'. This undertaking would open avenues for future decisions in addressing the impacts of climate change in the mountains and implementing appropriate measures.
Decisions on global goal to adaptation provide multiple opportunities to implement adaptation actions at home as it urges to increase ambition and enhance adaptation action and support to meet several targets by 2030, including to significantly reduce the impacts of climate change on water and mountain ecosystems. In addition, Parties decided to "launch a two-year work programme on indicators for measuring progress achieved" on targets ... A decision on the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund provides a mechanism to channel funding to countries severely affected by the adverse impacts of climate change. The call of the mountainous countries has been heard and it will contribute to enhance our understanding on the impacts of climate change in the mountains and take necessary actions to address them jointly and individually by ensuring sustainable flow of financial resources, transfer of technologies and accelerated capacity building in future.
CoP28 enhanced understanding of over 230 delegates of Nepal on climate negotiations. Three Hon'ble Ministers - Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation; Forests and Environment; and Urban Development - along with several high-level government officials attended CoP28. Nepal's participation was sufficiently 'rich'. For the first time, Nepal shared its national initiatives on climate change and lessons learned through the lectures or panel discussions in its pavilion. Participants, including Nepali, were informed about the national and local climate change activities. Considering this, climate change awareness has heightened in Nepal at political, bureaucratic, and advocacy levels. In other recent events, Hon'ble Ministers - Foreign Affairs, and Finance - have flagged climate change impacts in the Himalayas, mountains and the economic sector.
Nepal's National's National Adaptation Programme of Action (2010), Climate Change Policy (2011, reissued in 2019) and a National Framework on Local Adaptation Plan for Action (LAPA, 2011, reissued in 2019), contributed to implement adaptation interventions at local level to help climate vulnerable communities to adapt to, and build resilience to, climate change by accessing bilateral and multilateral funds, including from LDC Fund, Special Climate Change Fund, Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund. Nepal also initiated REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and sustainable management of forests) activities to reduce GHGs emissions. The 2019 Environment Protection Act provides provisions to implement adaptation and mitigation actions, including carbon trade. In 2020, Nepal submitted its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC2) with some unrealistic commitments. Before attending the Dubai Climate Summit, Rt. Hon'ble Prime Minister launched the NDC Implementation Plan and the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) in November 2023. NAP was shared with the UNFCCC Parties in 2021 at Glasgow during the CoP26. Necessary pre-requisites are in place, including the national framework on Loss and Damage. In addition, non-governmental organisations are also engaged in implementing adaptation actions. Nepal has generated knowledge and learning on adaptation interventions through three-pronged approaches - ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA), community-based adaptation (CbA), and nature-based solutions (NbS).
Recalling the commitments on climate change at the political level during the visit of the UN Secretary General in Nepal and CoP28, the government may wish to inform people on efforts made to: (i) access resources from climate dedicated funds during its tenure by aligning with the national priorities and international commitments; (ii) climate change-related projects linked with the Bank loan; (iii) list of pipeline projects on adaptation and technology; (iv) state of implementation of climate change-related projects and implementation complexities; (v) observed inclination of the national designated ministry towards 'climate loan' and non-inspiration to the professional ministries to access dedicated climate funds; (vi) resource-tapping priority of the climate change focal point for climate projects or its shadow effect on climate change; and (vii) call for the new initiatives by forgetting the previous ones. It is high time to encourage the champions in 'facilitating' to access climate funds, and those 'blocking' the process, and 'implementing' the climate projects at home. Recalling the political commitment on climate change in the present context, implementation level must of proactive. If not, 'a tree without roots can't support and sustain'. It also looks like a 'tree that grows but bears no fruits'. It clearly indicates the urgency for grounding the political messages into actions.
As usual, developed countries have pledged to support the developing countries to implement climate change activities. Relevant news inform the pledge of US$ 174 million to LDC Fund (only the LDCs can access it) and Special Climate Change Fund, US$ 188 million to the Adaptation Fund; slightly above US$ 4 billion to the Green Climate Fund (largest dedicated climate fund); and around US$ 700 million to the newly operationalised Loss and Damage Fund. At Dubai, developed and developing countries have pledged a total of over US$ 5 billion for climate change activities. However, it is necessary for early transfer of these pledges to the respective Funds. To access these funds, Nepal may wish to form a dedicated team of professionals to initiate the development of proposal(s) and complete the national process to access funding. The Ministry of Finance should facilitate the 'fund accessing process' and realise the 'cost of delay action' over the proposal(s) forwarded by the competent and professional ministries to access resources from the dedicated climate funds, bilateral and multilateral sources.
The climate change focal ministry may wish to prepare a report on the achievements of the CoP28, CMP18 and CMA5 and make it public with a view to develop a core team for future negotiations. Recalling the return of the Hon'ble Minister for Forests and Environment just before the start of the negotiation at political level, two events are documented here for future considerations: (i) final negotiations are at political (minister) level, and minister in-charge for climate change should continue participation to the end of the CoP or CMP or CMA to actively negotiate with Parties on the political messages of the Heads of States and Government and the national priorities; and (ii) former climate change focal person(s) should not be registered under 'Party overflow' stream to best utilise his/her experience in the climate negotiation process.
As clearly reflected in the GST decision under CMA5, the government is encouraged to form a team at the earliest possible to prepare at home for the expert dialogue on mountains and climate change to be held in June 2024. This dialogue would create multi-fold opportunities to reflect the national needs and priorities in the climate negotiation processes.