South Asian countries like Nepal and the Maldives, which suffer disproportionately from the impact of the climate emergency even though their per capita carbon emission are low, will be lobbying in Glasgow for resources to reduce risk from ice melting and sea-level rise.
In 2009, industrialised countries promised to raise $100 billion each year by 2020 to help developing countries tackle climate impact. The actual funding fell well short of the target, and developing countries will be bringing up the issue strongly at COP26.
When Alok Sharma visited Nepal in February, he travelled to Mustang to see for himself the rapid shrinking of Himalayan glaciers. He had flown over some of the wildfires that were starting at the time, and the same trans-Himalayan districts are now being battered by deadly floods and landslides.
As of now, Nepal and its international development partners are working on a $7.4 billion Green Recovery Support package for the country to ‘build back greener’ following the pandemic. The package will support investments in clean energy, water, and climate change prevention, funding for sustainable forestry, and green job growth.
Nepal also recently made a national commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and will further its climate action plan in Glasgow with the country’s delegates representing the interests of the Himalayan region at the summit. The receding glaciers of the Himalaya do not just affect Nepal, but nearly 1 billion people downstream in India, south-east Asia and China.
A warming atmosphere is believed to be causing more more unpredictable and extreme weather events in Nepal such as the prolonged winter drought that caused this year’s wildfires, and cloudbursts which unleashed floods and landslides this monsoon season.
At a virtual conference last month preparing for COP26, Nepali delegates raised concern that the vulnerability of mountain ecosystems was not getting enough priority in the summit agenda. They also urged more help for Himalayan countries to adapt to climate risk.
“Even if we are successful in limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, it will be equivalent to a 1.8°C rise in the Himalaya, and we will be losing 36% snow by the end of the century,” Arun Bhatta of Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Environment told the meeting.
After his visit to Nepal in February, Alok Sharma said he had seen for himself the impact of climate change on the mountains, including people being forced to abandon villages, and he pledged to amplify the voices of those most vulnerable to the climate crisis.