Climate change refers to significant changes in global temperature, precipitation, wind patterns and other measures of climate that occur over several decades or longer. The seas are rising. The foods we eat and take for granted are threatened. Ocean acidification is increasing. Climate change is the catch-all term for the shift in worldwide weather phenomena associated with an increase in global average temperatures. It’s real and temperatures have been going up around the world for many decades. Humans impact the physical environment in many ways: overpopulation, pollution, burning fossil fuels, and deforestation. Changes like these have triggered climate change, soil erosion, poor air quality, and undrinkable water. Some of the most promising ways to mitigate climate change are what we call “natural climate solutions”: the conservation, restoration, and improved management of land, in order to increase carbon storage or avoid greenhouse-gas emissions in landscapes worldwide. One of the main role of the media advocacy for around the globe.
Climate change issue Nepal is the one of the venerable country in the south Asia. Nepal is largely a mountainous country and current indications are that the mountain regions are more vulnerable due to increased warming trends as well as extreme changes in altitude over small distances. These alarming trends not only make Nepal’s major sectors of economy such as agriculture, tourism and energy more vulnerable but also endanger the health, safety and wellbeing of Nepali people.
Nepal has a remarkable climatic variability due to its impressive range of altitudes within its short north-south distance and the presence of the high Himalayan range in its north. Nepal’s greenhouse gas (GHG) contribution to the atmosphere is not significant in global terms but the impacts of climate change in the country’s economy and local livelihoods are significant. Based on available data it is found that the average warming in annual temperature between 1977 and 2000 was 0.06 oC/yr. The warming is found to be more pronounced in the higher altitude regions of Nepal such as middle-mountain and Himalaya, while the warming is significantly lower in Terai and Siwalik regions. Further, warming in the winter is more pronounced compared to other season.
The maximum temperatures are increasing faster than the minimum temperatures indicating a widening temperature range. There are a decreasing number of rainy days and increasing numbers of higher intensities rainfall events. The projected change in temperature above the baseline average is 1.2ºC for 2030, 1.7ºC for 2050 and 3.0ºC for 2100 (OECD 2003). Studies conducted in Dhaulagiri, Langtang, Khumbu, Shorong, and Kanchanjunga regions of Nepal suggested that the majority of glaciers are undergoing rapid deglaciation. The rate of retreat of these glaciers range from several meters to as high as 20 m/year (Fujita and Kadota 2001, Fujita et al. 1997, Kadota et al. 2001).
Nepal comprises about 2315 glacier lakes of varies sizes, with the total area of 75 sq. km. The rapid rate of snowmelt in high Himalayas is expected to create and or expand glacial lakes as well as increase river water flows initially. The potential increase in disasters from glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) is perhaps the most relevant climate change related threat for many parts of Nepal. Agriculture, biodiversity and health sectors are also adversely affected by climate change in Nepal. Nepal is agriculture based country where about 80% of people depend on agriculture and the agriculture system of most area is rainfall dependent. The agriculture sector of Nepal is severely hit by change in hydrological cycle.
Nepal’s First National Communication Report identifies both positive and negative impacts of climate change on agriculture (MoPE, 2004). It has been suggested at 40C temperature and 20% precipitation rise, there could be marginal yield increase rice; between 0.09 to 7.5% and beyond that yield will continue to decline. However, temperature rise has mixed reaction in the case of wheat as the actual yield of wheat has increased in western region with the rise of temperature and decline in other regions. Similarly, temperature rise has negative affect to maize yield as it is found to decrease with increase in temperature. With warming of higher altitudes, it has been predicted that there may be an increased range of lower altitude disease vectors such as mosquitoes and consequent increase in the spread of malaria, Kalaazar and Japanese encephalitis in such regions.
There is no longer a regular monsoon for Dilmaya in Taplejung to plant rice, also the uprooting time of mustard from the field has been changed for Phuldevi in Dhangadhi. Guava in Kiran’s orchard in Baglung didn’t ripe in time this year rather it was having insects during the ripening period. People are raising question about the change they are experiencing in their livelihood. ‘Lekh, gaon, besi’ practice for chopping firewood, shifting the ‘goth’ to kharka and parma for weeding the wheat seem changing compared the usual time a decade back to the older farmers. This change is experienced by many of the communities in Nepal. They have their own way of taking it.
Nepal joined the climate change movement through submitting the Initial National Communication document as a party of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in July 2004. Ratified Kyoto Protocol in 2005 and designated Ministry of Environment as Designated National Authority for Clean Development Mechanism. There is a Climate Change Network representing government, NGOs, academicians, and donor agencies working. National Climate Change policy (2009) has been formulated by the government and other climate change policies are either formulated or underway. A high level Climate Change Council under the chairmanship of Prime Minister has been formulated. A National Committee for the preparation COP 15/CMP 5 has been set up and ready to fuction. Nepal organized South Asian Regional Conference on Climate Change ‘Kathmandu to Copenhagen’ which came up with common stance among the countries of the region. It also formulated a consortium of the donor countries for climate change. A regional conference of youth was also organized. National Adaptation Program of Action is under preparation. There are sectoral implementation programs for strengthening capacity for managing climate change and environment. Preparation of Second National Communication is underway. Technology needs assessment Project is ready to initiate. Nepal is participating in the pilot program for Climate Resilience and Cool Earth program.
At ministry level various ministries are working in cross-cutting areas. Ministry of Environment is the focal ministry, Department of Hydrology and Meteorology is keeping up the regular hydrology meteorology data at different stations across the country. DHM is also monitoring a number of glaciers for melting and retreating parameters in eastern and central Nepal. Ministry of Environment has proposed to set up a Climate Change Division under its organogram as a functioning entity. There are sectoral programs in Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Agriculture, Health, Local Government, Education, Housing and Urban Planning, Social Welfare etc. (writer Khatri Member of Society of Environmental Journalists- USA).