And that is probably the best-case scenario if warming cannot be capped at 1.5o by 2040. In reality, it will probably exceed 2o. By the end of the century, we are looking at average global temperatures at 4o warmer – this means we should replace the term climate change with ‘climate collapse’.
Many of us who have been writing about the climate for the past decades have been called ‘alarmists’ or ‘fear mongers’, but this time it is the scientists who are panicking. The reason is that at a time when action on emission reduction is urgent, populist climate deniers are being elected in democracies across the world. It is getting so scary, citizens and politicians are burying their heads in the sand.
These alarming changes have happened with just an average 1o warming since the industrial age. The IPCC report makes clear that in the next decades, whether the warming is 1.5o or 2o will make a world of a difference – 1.5o means heat waves will be less severe meaning millions will not die, the polar ice caps will not melt as fast, fewer plants and animals will become extinct, sea level will not rise by as much, fewer coral reefs will bleach. However, the report warns that governments only have 12 more years to implement measures so that global warming will be less than 1.5o.
From a fossil past to an electric future, Om Astha Rai
Decarbonise now, Ajay Dixit
Now that we know how bad things are, what are we going to do about it in Nepal? For years we have argued that since we did not create the problem, and what we do is not going to save the planet, we should just try to adapt. But, as a new report State of Climate Action in Nepal shows, Nepal also needs to take mitigation action – not so much to slow global warming, but to save the country’s economy from collapse.
Despite international treaties Nepal has signed, and successive governments paying lip service to a renewable economy, the country’s fossil energy imports are soaring, including through electricity imports from thermal plants in India. Solar and biogas programs have languished, and there has been nearly no tangible progress on electric public transport.
‘Nepal’s move towards a sustainably renewable future is sluggish, and indeed often regressively heading towards more fossil fuel addiction,’ the report concludes.
The most glaring lapse is in sustainable harnessing of Nepal’s hydropower. Chronic governance failure and sheer stupidity of our rulers have resulted in Nepal now importing half its electricity from Indian coal-fired plants, doubling our carbon footprint. New hydropower plants are expected to add 2,000MW in the next two years, but these will barely meet suppressed demands and since they are all run-of-river schemes, the winter power shortage will continue.
The great Himalayan Thaw, Ajay Dixit
Nepalis paying price for climate change
The number of vehicles is nearing 3 million, with public transport vehicles making up less than 3% of the total, and the number of electric vehicles is negligible. There is weak political will to promote more efficient and reliable public transport because of the lobbying power of bus syndicates. Although taxes for electric vehicles have been slashed (see page 8-9), there is no sign of a proactive strategy to wean transportation from fossil fuels.
All this is impacting public health due to a proliferation of two-wheelers and lack of emission controls. The poor condition of roads and highways has decreased the efficiency of vehicular transport, but has increased pollution levels.
Much more worrying is that Nepal’s annual spending on petroleum products has more than doubled in the last two years, increasing our trade imbalance with India.
Flawed energy policy is not just ruining the environment and bankrupting the country, it is also increasing Nepal’s political vulnerability to the outside world.
Reservoirs of suspicion, Om Astha Rai
Storing water, Bishal Thapa