The Office of the Auditor General urged the government to spend some of the accumulated fee to address air pollution, and also in July the Supreme Court issued a similar ruling. But the government appears to be unable to spend this money, even as it tries to tap into international mechanisms like the Green Climate Fund to adapt to the climate crisis.
As the government prepares for the 27th Conference of Parties (COP 27) being held 6-18 November in Egypt, it will once again by lobbying for increased international funding for climate action.
Sure, international funding for both mitigation and adaptation to the climate crisis is urgently needed, but how about Nepal first spending the money it has at its disposal to clean up the air – especially since there is such a guaranteed return on investment.
The private sector can also jump in. Despite the see-sawing tax policy on electric vehicles, the market for battery-operated cars has jumped five-fold just in the past one year. With the increased import of EV, we will soon see an increased demand for infrastructure such as charging stations, repair and maintenance, and hopefully, even electric public transport.
This is where the investment from the private sector may be crucial. While individual consumers are buying EVs in droves without proper infrastructure, the industry will struggle.
Read more: Agroecology, Nepal’s answer to climate change, Zachary Barton
Similarly, investment in green construction material can help reduce pollution from the brick kiln sector and enforcing proper waste management can reduce toxic smoke from open waste burning all over Nepal.
If the last election cycle has taught us anything, it is that Nepali voters are willing to bet on change. So, it is time to once again make our voices heard on the ballot – for clean politics and clean air. Let us vote for candidates who will prioritise environmental issues and show commitment to change. Elections may be a slow process that comes around only every five years, but each vote is an opportunity to create lasting change.
As consumers, we can also make ourselves heard through our purchases of smarter, cleaner and greener alternatives. The simplest and most profitable switch, can be to abandon LPG for the electric cook stove. In the past year, after my family bought an induction stove and rice cooker, we have saved on not having to buy LPG at Rs1,800 per cylinder. One induction cooker costs the same as two LPG cylinders, and the money is easily recouped.
Another clean alternative is an electric vehicle. For shorter distances, walk. If you are building a home, buy Compressed Stabilised Earth Bricks, instead of traditional fired bricks that pollute the Valley’s air.
Every little effort counts, and on International Day of Clean Air on 7 September, let us work for change simply by becoming more conscious consumers.
Read more: Mustn’t blame everything on climate change, Editorial
Shreesha Nankhwa is an environmentalist currently engaged with FHI 360 as a Social and Behaviour Change Communication Officer.