Adaptation after graduation; are we self-supporting?

It has been forty-seven years since the inception of the categorization of countries as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and only five countries have graduated so far. Four countries, Bhutan, Sao Tome and Principe, Kiribati and Solomon Islands are recommended for graduation this year while Nepal’s graduation recommendation is terminated upon its request. According to the Committee for Development Policy (CDP), the subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) who recommends a country for graduation, Nepal as well as Timor-Leste was not recommended for graduation this time even if they met the required criteria because of economic and political challenges. These will be reviewed and considered for graduation again in the next triennial review i.e. in 2021 AD if they still meet the criteria. And for Nepal, the criteria are likely to be met again provided the government’s announcements.

Access to climate funds

The LDCs, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the African States are the countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and Nepal is also one of them. That is why these countries are getting special focus on climate change adaptation measures. The Least Developed Countries Fund (LDC Fund) was established in 2001 AD under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and is being managed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with an aim to help the LDCs to prepare and implement their National Adaptation Program of Actions (NAPA) to climate change. The officials of Nepal working in the area of climate change never forget to mention this LDC fund when talked about the issues regarding climate change. So the graduation proposal should obviously have shocked, at least once, those officials from the then Ministry of Population and Environment (MOPE) and Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MOFSC) (now Ministry of Forests and Environment) as these are the concerned ministries mostly dealing with climate change issues in Nepal. So, when Nepal graduates from the category of the LDC in the next review, i.e. in 2021 AD, will it be able to cope with the climatic changes without access to the LDC fund after that?

Will Nepal be able to fulfil its Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement when the financial supports it is getting now are also cut?

Some months ago, after the withdrawal of the USA from the Paris Agreement, chief of the Climate Change Management Division of Nepal and Nepal’s focal person for the UNFCCC (Dr. Ram Prasad Lamsal) was saying that the USA’s withdrawal was not a problem for Nepal. One of his logic behind this was that Nepal would get money from the LDC fund and it was not only the USA that would provide money to this fund. This also shows that government officials were quite relaxed because of the money that Nepal is likely to receive from the LDC fund.

It is not only the LDC fund Nepal will lose access to after the graduation. The Green Climate Fund (GCF), a part of financial mechanism of the UNFCCC, also pays particular attention to the needs of the LDCs, SIDS and the African States. The fifty per cent of the ‘adaptation budget’, which in turn is fifty per cent of the total 100$ billion annual disbursement post 2020 AD, is targeted towards these countries, which Nepal will not receive after graduation from the LDC status.

Are we ready?

Change in climate is an ongoing process and so is adaptation. Only graduating a country from the list of the LDCs does not significantly reduce the vulnerability to climate change unless sufficient mitigation measures are also carried out. The thing now is – will we be able to adapt to the changes in the future climate without access to those funds which are meant for adaptation programs in the LDCs? We should have already been able for that now because Nepal is already liable for graduation but is postponed only upon our special request.

Normally, we will have three years grace period for the LDC graduation to come into effect. So, within coming six to seven years, will we be able to fully adapt to the climatic changes without major help from the adaptation mechanisms that are particularly aimed at countries like Nepal? Because Nepal will not get special attention after that, as it is getting now as a member of the LDCs. We must be able on our own, at least for that time period until another mechanism is formulated to facilitate ‘graduated yet vulnerable to climate change’ countries. And we should start raising this issue in the climate negotiations now if such mechanism is necessary for us.

Also, Nepal states in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) paper to the Paris Agreement that it needs bilateral and multilateral support in eleven priority areas to meet the targets it has mentioned, the first being formulation and implementation of National Adaptation Plans (NAP) and implementation of already formulated NAPA. Will it be able to fulfil its NDC when the financial supports it is getting now are also cut?

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Safa Hawa – An added segregation

In Nature Khabar online. This link – http://naturekhabar.com/en/archives/9601

April 27, 2018

A mobile application ‘safa hawa’ was launched in Kathmandu some days ago. The app is said to provide hourly updates of the pollution level from two air quality monitoring stations currently. And the app is said to be available for both android and ios platforms.

Forget about an Iphone, I don’t even have an android phone. So, my question is, don’t I have the right to breathe ‘safa hawa’? What about them who don’t even have a mobile phone? Don’t they have the right to breathe ‘safa hawa’? If I were to make a very, very bad comment on the question, it would be – “Why are you breathing till date if you cannot even buy an android phone?”

I have no acrimony towards the developers or launchers. My only concern is – why are only a particular group of people focused? And why are we thinking of running away and avoiding pollution rather than trying to resolve the root of the problem? If the policy makers really want to push for policy changes, they don’t need a mobile app to collect pollution information; they can simply get the data from the monitoring stations itself.

We already removed a lot of pollutant particles from the atmosphere by inhaling and depositing it in our lungs but such pollutants never seem to have decreased there in the atmosphere. Same as the Bagmati cleanup program!

Let’s return back to ‘safa hawa’. For e.g., I have to go to Thamel. But my ‘safa hawa’ app shows that the level of pollution is very high there. How can I avoid going there when I have to go there at any cost? Maybe you can say that I could go there with some safety measures. Is there any place in this capital city where people could go without sufficient safety measures against air pollution?

Why is this discrimination even in the air we breathe? If you can afford to install air purifiers at your home, you can breathe safe; otherwise you have to breathe toxic air. If you can afford to buy effective, surgical masks every day, you can inhale hygienic air; otherwise you have to breathe toxic air. And now, if you can afford to buy an android phone, you can avoid the pollution; otherwise you have to breathe toxic air. This is when being poor really hurts.

Another thing I fear now-a-days is – one day people might start selling the portable oxygen bottles, which we have not seen till date only because somebody has not discovered it yet, and that will be a new business in this city. Like the water bottle business, as is going on in the second richest country in the world in terms of water resources.


 

REDD signals!

Aditya Acharya and Mahesh Poudel

Published in The Kathmandu Post. This link – http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-03-27/redd-signals.html

Mar 27, 2018
It was discovered that deforestation and forest land degradation contribute to 17 percent of the worldwide carbon emissions which is a major factor of the current global warming phenomenon. So, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation was seen as one of the major issues to address this phenomenon. Conceived initially as RED (reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries), the current state of REDD+ was formalized during the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bali, Indonesia in 2007. The concept is to allow the developed countries (Annex 1 countries of the UNFCCC) to offset their emissions by providing financial incentives for the projects in developing countries (non-Annex 1 countries of the UNFCCC) that reduce emissions by preventing deforestation and degradation.

The formal term now is REDD+ which is an extension of REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest land degradation); an addition of three other components, forest conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in the later. REDD is the mechanism to curb emissions and UN-REDD is the program of the United Nations (UN) that assists the participating countries for the REDD readiness. And the UN_REDD program has 64 partner countries; 28 in Africa, 19 in Asia Pacific and 17 in Latin America and the Carribean.

Corruption in the partners

The Transparency International (TI) last month (February) published the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) Report for 2017 which shows the perceived level of public sector corruptions in 180 countries around the world. Of the 64 partner countries of the UN REDD program, 57 (89%) of them have the CPI score of less than 50 out of 100, zero score being the most corrupt and 100 the cleanest. Fifty five out of those 64 (86%) have the CPI score of less than the global average score of 43.07. Only 5 (7.8%) of them have the CPI score of more than 43.07 and 4 of them are not scored. Bhutan and Chile are the least corrupt countries among those 64 countries with an equal score of 67 and Costa Rica is the second one with a score of 59. Can we really be optimistic about the success of the mechanism that works among the most corrupt countries of the world? Is carbon finance fair and effective? The TI writes – “Sadly, many of the world’s most densely forested countries have a poor track record for corruption. In the current global economy, trees are worth a lot more cut down than they are in the ground, and politicians have been known to accept bribes – sometimes huge – to grant companies access to forest zones that should be protected.

Safeguards

There are seven safeguards which were adopted at COP 16 in 2010 in Cancun, Mexico (hence called Cancun safeguards) keeping in mind the potential risks that might arise during the REDD implementation, which also includes ‘Transparent and effective national forest governance structures, taking into account national legislation and sovereignty’. Just to remind, these countries are corrupt not because they don’t have good laws and policies but because the corrupt bureaucracy, the politicians as well as people there easily outsmart them. If the safeguards would really work, those countries should never be so corrupt. Yes, if the countries fail to meet the safeguards, they will not be paid. That is fine. But what about the billions of dollars already invested in REDD readiness then? Will that all be ‘water poured in the sand’?

There are so many complex, technical aspects included that even a well-educated person cannot completely understand. And the indigenous people of those countries, where the literacy percentage is also very low, are expected to fully trust the corrupt bureaucracy in their countries to deliver them the benefits of keeping the forests safe!

What should be done?

It is not that no works should be done in those countries fearing corruption but alternative ways of reducing the emissions should be sought. One confusing thing is – how the REDD benefits the environment when the developed countries can emit the same amount of GHGs as sequestered by the developing countries under REDD mechanism, just by paying them money!? This is not to mean that the developing countries should be allowed to deforest or degrade the forest land but that the developed countries should not be allowed to emit as much carbon as they want just by paying money. Is it the money or the reduction in GHG emissions that actually matters for developing countries? Why can’t the developing countries pressurize the developed ones to reduce as much carbon emissions as they sequester rather than asking for the payments? That way, the changing climate will have double benefits.

Either money that is going to the developing countries should be invested in the developed countries itself reducing emissions to an amount that developing ones are likely to sequester or corruption in the developing countries should be highly reduced. Otherwise, there are no green signals for REDD.

 The Kathmandu Post - REDD Signals

Epaper link – http://epaper.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2018-03-27/6

The EPI Report and misunderstanding between #Air Quality and #Air pollution in Nepal

Last week, researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities published a report; the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) report, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranking 180 countries. The ranking is based on Environmental Health and Ecosystem Vitality of each of those countries. The environmental health topic covers three issue categories namely Air quality, Water quality and Heavy metals and the ecosystem vitality topic covers seven issue categories namely Biodiversity and habitat, Forests, Fisheries, Climate and energy, Air pollution, Water resources and  Agriculture; hence a total of ten issue categories. Each of these ten issue categories is, in turn, scored based on one to six performance indicators and there are altogether 24 such indicators.

It is not that the air pollution is the highest in Nepal but that the air quality is the worst

After the report got published, Nepalese media published news stating that Nepal ranks 176th among 180 countries in terms of air pollution. Some ‘mainstream’ called media too published news stating the same. They further stated air pollution as a leading environmental threat to public health. The press release by Yale has clearly stated that air quality is the top environmental threat to public health, not air pollution as most of the news reports in Nepal wrote. They did not note the distinction between air quality and air pollution and wrongly transliterated air quality as air pollution. No doubt that Nepal is ranked at the bottom (180th country) in terms of air quality with a score of 3.94. But the rank of Nepal in terms of air pollution is 87 with a score of 49.58 and the overall EPI rank is 176 with a score of 31.44. (See country report/Nepal)

The performance indicators of air pollution in this study include Sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions and Nitrogen oxides (NOX) emissions whereas performance indicators of air quality include (Particulate Matters of less than 2.5-micrometer diameter) PM2.5 exposure, PM2.5 exceedance and household solid fuels. The level of PM2.5 we have been hearing generally and exclaiming air pollution level in Kathmandu is the indicator of air quality, not air pollution in this study.

In a nutshell, it is not that the air pollution is the highest in Nepal but that the air quality is the worst.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Nature khabar

News published in Nature Khabar. They deleted the news after the comment.

 

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News in Kathmandu Post stating AIR POLLUTION as the leading public health threat, citing the EPI report.

 

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News in PHP Nepal copied from the Kathmandu Post.

 

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No clear message in Republica.

 

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AIR QUALITY is the top public health threat according to Yale, not AIR POLLUTION

 

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News in Kantipur daily. I commented but they did not think that it needs to be corrected.

 

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My long comment for the news in the Kantipur daily. They approved the comment but did not correct the news/information.

हावा कुरा….

नेचर खबरमा प्रकाशित, यो लिंकमा पनि उपलब्ध छ – http://naturekhabar.com/ne/archives/8505

जूनकिरीले अतिनै कचकच गर्न थाली । केहि गरिपनि बुझाउन नसकेपछि केहि दिनअघि हेलो सरकारलाई मेन्सन गर्दै ट्वीट नै लेख्नुपर्यो । कुरो के भने, मैले केहि दिनदेखि दिनको दुई खिल्ली चुरोट पिउन थालेको थिएँ । “चुरोटको धुवाँले स्वास्थ्यमा गम्भीर असर गर्छ, मुटु, कलेजो, फोक्सो, रगत के के हो के के लाई नकारात्मक असर गर्छ, चुरोट खान पाउनुहुन्न” भनेर हैरान । “ए बाबा, म काठमाडाैँको धुलोमा चोबिसै घण्टा ढुक्कसँग सास फेरेरै बस्या छु र त अहिलेसम्म ठीकठाकै छु । दिनभरीमा मैले पिउने जाबो दुई खिल्ली चुरोटले के नै असर गर्छ र भन्या” भन्ने मेरो खास कुरो ।

म चुरोटको अम्मली भने होइन । पहिलापहिला, बच्चा बेलामा बाख्रा चराउन जंगल जाँदा, सुकेको पिठौरीको पात माडेर सुर्ती बनाएर, त्यही पिठौरीको पातमा बेरेर बिँडी बनाएर तानेकोलाई अपबाद मान्ने हो भने, मैले कहिल्यै पनि बिँडी वा चुरोट खाएको, पिएको, तानेको त परै जाओस्, सल्काएको सम्म पनि छैन भन्दा हुन्छ ।

हेलो सरकारलाई लेखेको पत्र ठ्याक्कै यस्तो थियो – “डियर हेलो सरकार, हेर्नुस् न, चौबिसै घण्टा काठमाडाैँमा सास फेर्दा त म ठीकठाक छु । दिनभरिमा खाने जाबो दुई खिल्ली चुरोटलाई लिएर जूनकिरी सधैँ कचकच गरिरहन्छे । कसरी सम्झाउने होला, सुझाव पाम् न ।” “काठमाडाैँको धुलोले समेत केहि गर्न नसकेको मान्छेलाई, दिनको जम्मा दुई खिल्ली चुरोटले केहि असर गर्दैन, धेरै कचकच नगर्नु…” भन्दै हेलो सरकारले कम्तीमा, जूनकिरीलाई एउटा पत्र काटिदिन्छ कि भन्ने कत्रो आश थियो । तर अहँ, हेलो सरकारबाट पनि केहि माखो मरेन । सरकारलाई समेत गुहार्न पुगियो हैन? भन्दै उल्टै घरमा रडाको बढ्यो ।

अघिनै भनिसकेँ म बिँडी चुरोटको अम्मली होइन । तर कुरो के भने, सरकारले केहि महिनाअघि एउटा निर्णय गरेपछि मैले पनि, जिन्दगीमा केहि नयाँ अनुभव पनि लिउँ न त, मौका यहि हो भन्ने ठानेर दिनको दुई खिल्ली चुरोट पिउने निर्णय गरेको हो । सरकारको निर्णय के भनेयदि काठमाडाैँको धुलो धुवाँले गर्दा कुनै रोग लागेमा उपचार खर्च सरकारले बेहोर्नेछअनि मनमनै सोचेँ – यदि धुलो धुवाँकै कारणले कुनै रोग लागेमा सरकारले उपचार गरिदिने भएपछि जीवनमा नयाँ अनुभव पनि लिइहालूँ न त । धुवाँकै कारण केहि भएछ भने, यो चुरोटको धुवाँले हो कि काठमाडाैँको हावाको धुवाँले हो भनेर कसलाई के थाहा ? उक्त रोग हावामा भएको प्रदूषणकै कारणले हो भनेर डाक्टरले प्रमाणीत गर्नुपर्ने भएपछि चाहिँ अलि संकोच लागेको थियो तर ती मुला डाक्टरलाई पनि के थाहा मेरो फोक्सोभित्रको धुवाँ चुरोटको हो कि काठमाडाैँको हावाको हो भनेर भन्ने सोचेर ढुक्क भएँ । डाक्टर अलि चलाखै रैछ भने, यस्सो कुरा मिलाउँला नि, कति नै लाग्ला र भन्ने लाग्यो । अनि त्यही दिनदेखि हो मैले दिनमा दुई खिल्ली चुरोट पिउने निर्णय गरेको । तर जूनकिरीको कचकचले हैरान ।

केहि दिनदेखि वातावरणकर्मी भनाउँदाहरु पनि खुब तातेका छन् । जाडोको बेला तात्नु त राम्रै कुरा हो, तर यो कागजमा बल्ड्यांग्रे अक्षरमा कुन्नी के के लेखेर चाहिँ किन दुनियाँलाई देखाउँदै हिँडेका होलान् । त्यसले हावामा भएको प्रदूषण कसरी घटाउँछ भनेर अहिलेसम्म बुझ्या भए मार्दिनु । बरु पोहोरपरार हाम्रा स्वास्थ्यमन्त्रीज्यूले जस्तो यसो पानी सानी छर्केर सडक बढारेको भए केहि हुँदो हो । तर खै, हाम्रा कुरा कसले सुनीदिने र ?
सबका सब जान्नेसुन्ने आजकल त । प्रदुषणको तह सरकारले तोकेको मापदण्डभन्दा धेरै गुणा बढि हुँदा पनि सरकारले केहि गर्न सकेन भनेर कोकोहोलो छ । जूनकिरीले अस्ती घरमै एक लेक्चर दिईहाली । “बाहिर हिँड्दा मास्क लगाउन कहिल्यै नभुल्नु, म घरमा नभएको बेला केटाकेटीलाई धेरै बाहिरतिर डुल्न नदिनु, मर्निगं वाक स्वाक गर्नु पर्दैन, बिहान प्रदूषणकाे मात्रा धेरै हुन्छ…,” के के हो के के । अस्ति छोरोलाई अस्पताल लिएर हिँडेकी थिई, हावा राम्रो छैन भनेर मास्क लगाइदिइछे । डेढ वर्षे छोरो निसास्सीएर झण्डै मरेको ।

प्रिय सरकार, म राम्रोसँग बुझ्छु अरुको कचकच सुन्नु पर्दाको तनाव । तपाईँलाई कस्तो भइरहेको छ भनेर सजिलै अनुमान गर्न सक्छु । त्यसैले, काठमाडाैँको प्रदूषणलाई मापदण्डभित्र राख्ने एउटा अचुक उपाय सुझाएको छु । वायु प्रदूषणको लागि सरकारी मापदण्ड २५० माइक्रोग्राम प्रति घनमिटर भनेर तोकिदिऊँ । त्यति गरिदिने हो भने हावामा प्रदुषणको मात्रा मापदण्डभन्दा कहिल्यै बढि हुन पाउँदैन । अनि न तपार्इँलाई यी वातावरणकर्मीहरुको कचकच सुन्नुपर्ने चिन्ता न मलाई जूनकिरीको लेक्चर । चुरोटबारेको जूनकिरीको कचकच बरु केहि दिनपछि म आफैँ मिलाउँला ।