Climate politics is hard, driven primarily by the current US administration’s decision to exit from the Paris Agreement. The final declaration in Katowice did not welcome the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.50 which had concluded that warming beyond 1.50 Celsius in the next 30 years could bring catastrophic and irreversible change to life on the planet.
The Rulebook also specifies which gas to measure, which methodology to use and the kind of information required in a country’s report to be submitted to the UN climate body every two years. It did not, unfortunately, raise collective ambitions, and as emission reduction pledges currently stand, average global temperatures will probably rise by 2 degree Celsius by 2050.
For its part, Nepal lacks the foundation to translate the Paris Rulebook to action. Creating these mechanisms could demonstrate the country’s collective climate ambition, but judging from our past, we are likely to provide only lip service. Nepal’s elected leadership shows little interest in creating a scientific base for improved understanding of local climatic and natural dynamics, which is key to adapting to the changing climate.
Climate climax, Editorial
The great Himalayan thaw, Ajay Dixit
Our current preoccupation is to excavate hill slopes with non-engineered roads as the harbingers of progress. Roads do improve connectivity and mobility, but without a well thought through strategy supported by robust safeguards in our geologically fragile landscape, upkeep as well as social and environmental costs will simply keep rising.
In 2016, Nepal imported 8,328 excavators, bulldozers, cranes and trucks. The number jumped to 12,712 in 2017. During this same period, diesel imports increased 1.4 times. Nepal’s emissions of greenhouse gases maybe small, but its annual growth rate is already the highest in South Asia. Despite official rhetoric of a green economy, Nepal is turning brown.
The link between the Paris Rulebook and the snowless Machapuchre massif is closer than we think. But just as devastating is the silent emergency of our springs going dry. Given the entrenched interests dominating global climate politics, it is hard to envision dramatic systemic shifts needed to keep the destruction of global climate in check.
Yet, the Rulebook is the first step on a new global journey to implement the Paris Agreement and avert the catastrophe of a more than 2 degree warming by 2050. We must increase our collective ambitions, and turn back the curve of global carbon emissions by 2030.
Ajaya Dixit is Executive Director of Kathmandu based ISET-Nepal. His monthly column Climate for Change in Nepali Times deals with the impact of global warming in Nepal.
Recharging the mountains, Sonia Awale
On thin ice in the Khumbu, Kunda Dixit
When melting mountains shake, Kunda Dixit