Forests Fuelling Progress

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Published in The Kathmandu Post – http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2017-09-12/forests-fuelling-progress.html

Sep 12, 2017

With the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, the world has now embarked on another path towards the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Prepared by the United Nations (UN), the agenda constitutes 17 goals with 169 targets envisioning a more peaceful, just, sustainable and inclusive world by 2030. These goals have been dubbed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and address three dimensions of sustainable development—social, economic and environmental. Achieving these goals requires ambition and hard work. Nepal’s community forestry sector can contribute significantly to the achievement of these goals as well.

What began with the handing over of a patch of forest to be utilised and managed by the local villagers of Thokarpa Village in the Sindhupalchowk district in 1973 has now become a world renowned community forestry model. Community Forests (CF), as stated by the Forest Act 1993, are that part of a national forest which is handed over to the local people, forming a group known as Community Forest User Group (CFUG), for the management and utilisation of the forest and its resources provided that they are able and willing to manage it. Now, there are 19,361 CFs in the country with an equal number of CFUGs.

Policy linkage

Poverty and hunger reduction were targets for the very first goal in the MDGs. The first and second goals of the SDGs also aim to eradicate extreme poverty in all its forms and end hunger and achieve food security by 2030. The Community Forest Development Program Guideline 2014-15 clearly states that 35 percent of the total income of the CFUG should be invested in pro-poor targeted programs within the group. The annual income of Nepal’s CFs is over $10 million and the figure continues to increase as the number of CFs being handed to the user groups is also increasing. The community forestry sector contributes roughly $4 million annually (35 per cent of $10 million) to the pro-poor targeted programs. Though there are accusations that community forestry is under elite domination, the poor are also benefiting considerably. Community forestry has the potential to bring about a number of positive developments, however, this process is impeded by a lack of effective governance and law enforcement.

The Community Forest Development Program Guideline also stipulates that among the two tiers of the organisational structure of CFUG, i.e. General Assembly (GA) and Executive Committee (EC), either the chairperson or the secretary must be a woman. In order for the group to establish and maintain a bank account, there must be a joint signature, of which one signature must be a woman’s. These provisions help empower women and girls, involve them in the decision making process in public life, and provide equal opportunities for leadership which are envisioned in the fifth goal of the SDGs. Similarly, there must be 50 percent women participation in the EC with proportionate representation of Dalits, Janajatis, and indigenous and marginalised people. This helps to reduce inequalities within the country by achieving inclusive and just societies, and it also ensures inclusive participation in public decision making. There are so many CFUGs that are run solely by women and are reported to perform better than mixed gender CFUGs. The provisions of annual public hearing and internal and public auditing help develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions. This process has worked in the CFUGs case as well. It is deemed mandatory for 25 percent of the income from the CF to be spent on forest management, development and protection activities. This aims to minimise adverse effects of climate change, combat desertification, halt and reverse desertification, and halt biodiversity loss.

Positive impacts

The CFUGs have been involved in numerous other activities like providing scholarships for deserving students from their groups, constructing gobar-gas (biogas made from cow dung) plants, constructing and/or maintaining physical infrastructures like roads, schools, hospital buildings and toilets to name a few. These activities all help to accomplish targets in one way or the other. The scholarships help in ensuring quality education, constructing toilets and hospitals help to ensure sanitation and healthy lives, constructing gobar-gas plants ensures access to affordable and sustainable energy, and so on.

But it is neither the provisions nor the goals themselves that make a difference. We have to act upon them to bring about the desired differences. The UN itself states that the SDGs are not stand-alone goals, and neither were the MDGs. So it cannot be explicitly stated that a particular sector/activity helps achieve one specific goal. Achievement (or underachievement) of one goal has considerable impacts on the achievement of other goals too. For example, eradicating poverty and ensuring sustainable consumption and production helps to reduce hunger, managing forests sustainably and scientifically helps to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, ensuring inclusive and quality education helps to create peaceful, just and inclusive societies and so on. Evidence also shows that families with educated mothers are more stable. So, either directly or indirectly, the forestry sector, and community forestry in particular greatly impacts the achievement of global goals. Budget allocation for the forestry sector has to increase and more work should be done to achieve greater and more sustainable benefits.

Another positive point of CFGUs is that they are not run by politicians, but by local people who work for their own personal advancement. This increases the likelihood that guidelines will be adhered to.

The KTM Post Article

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पेरिस सम्झौता, अमेरिकी बहिर्गमन र नेपालको भूमिका

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आदित्य आचार्य  र महेश पौडेल

नेचर खबर अनलाइन पत्रिकामा प्रकाशीत यो लिंकमा पनि उपलब्ध छ: http://naturekhabar.com/ne/archives/5119

प्रसंग पेरिस सम्झौताबाट बाहिरिने अमेरिकाको निर्णयबाटै सुरु गराैँ। राष्ट्रपति ट्रम्पले सो निर्णय गर्दैगर्दा लगभग पूरै संसार त्यसको विरोधमा उत्रीयो । अमेरिकाले पेरिस सम्झौतामा सहभागी नै नहुने भन्दै उक्त सहमतिमा हस्ताक्षर नगरेको भए त्यति धेरै हल्लीखल्ली हुने थिएन जति सम्झौताबाट बाहिरिने निर्णय गर्दाखेरि भयो । ट्रम्पले, जलवायु परिवर्तन एउटा अफवाह मात्रै हो भनेर राष्ट्रपति हुनुभन्दा धरै अगाडिदेखि भन्दै आएका हुन् र राष्ट्रपतिको चुनावी सभामै पनि उनले आफू राष्ट्रपति निर्वाचित भएमा पेरिस सम्झौताबाट बाहिरिने कुरा बताएका हुन् । यद्दपी अमेरिकीहरुले उनलाई नै राष्ट्रपतिको रुपमा निर्वाचित गरे । हुन त एउटा मात्र चुनावी एजेन्डालाई हेरेर जित र हारको निर्क्येाल हुन सक्छ सक्दैन, त्यो राजनीतिको छुट्टै पाटो होला, तर यसले संकेत चाहिँ के गर्छ भने जलवायु परिवर्तन अफवाह मात्र हो भन्ने सोचाइ राख्ने अमेरिकीहरुको बहुमत छ । तर पनि जलवायु परिवर्तन साँचो समस्या हो र यसलाई घटाउन हामी प्रतिबद्ध छौँ भन्ने अमेरिकीहरु पनि कम छैनन् । अनि सत्य चाहिँ के हो भने कसैले मान्दैमा वा नमान्दैमा जलवायु परिवर्तनको प्रकृया रोकिने होइन । यो त निरन्तर चलिरहने प्राकृतिक प्रकृया हो । समस्या चाहिँ, तापक्रम वृद्धिको दर सामान्यरुपमा हुुनुपर्ने भन्दा बढि भएको कारण मात्र भएको हो ।

पेरिस सम्झौता
सन् २०१५ को नोभेम्बरमा फ्रान्सको राजधानी पेरिसमा, जलवायु परिवर्तन सम्बन्धि संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघिय प्रारुप महासन्धि (युएनएफसीसीसी) का १९७ पक्षराष्ट्रहरुको सम्मेलनमा गरिएको सम्झौता नै पेरिस सम्झौता हो जसमा विश्वव्यापी तापक्रम वृद्धिलाई पुर्व औद्योगिरकणको समयको तुलनामा २ डिग्रीभन्दा तल राख्ने र अझ संभव भएसम्म १.५ डिग्रीभन्दा तल राख्न प्रयत्न गर्ने सहमति भएको हो । सम्झौतामा हस्ताक्षर गरेका १९५ राष्ट्रहरुमध्ये हालसम्म १५१ राष्ट्रहरुले सम्झौतालाई अनुमोदन समेत गरिसकेका छन् । दुई राष्ट्रहरु सिरिया र निकारागुवाले भने हस्ताक्षर नै गरेनन् । लामो समयदेखिको द्धन्द्धका कारण सिरिया उपस्थित हुन सकेन भने निकारागुवाले जिम्मेवार राष्ट्रहरुले गर्नुपर्ने हरितगृह ग्याँसको उत्सर्जन कटौती स्वेच्छिक मात्र भएको, बाध्यकारी नभएको भन्दै आफूले हस्ताक्षर नगर्ने बतायो । यद्यपी विकसित मुलुकहरुले, विश्वले अपेक्षा गरेभन्दा धेरै अगाडिनै अनुमोदन गरेपछि, सन् २०२० पछि कार्यान्वयनमा आउने अपेक्षा गरिएको सम्झौता सन् २०१६ को नोभेम्बरदेखि नै लागु भएको हो ।

नेपालको भूमिका
पेरिस सम्झौताको पक्षराष्ट्र भएको नाताले, नेपालले पेश गरेको राष्ट्रिय रुपमा गर्नसक्ने योगदानको प्रतिबद्धता (इन्टेन्डेड नेसनल्ली डिटरमाइन्ड कन्ट्रिब्युसन) पत्रमा उल्लेख भएअनुसार, हरितगृह ग्याँसको विश्वब्यापी उत्सर्जनमध्ये नेपालको योगदान जम्मा ०.०२७ प्रतिशत मात्र छ । यो त एकदम नगन्य मात्रा हो । सबैकुरा यथावत रहने हो भने, अहिले भइरहेको विश्वब्यापी उत्सर्जनको एक प्रतिशत उत्सर्जन गर्न नेपाललाई आउँदो करिब चालिस वर्ष लाग्नेछ । तर जलवायु परिवर्तनबाट सिर्जित जोखिमहरुप्रति भने नेपाल अति संवेलनशील राष्ट्रहरुको सूचीमा पर्दछ । यसरि नेपालले जलवायु परिवर्तनका लागि गर्ने योगदान चाहिँ नगन्य तर त्यसका प्रभाव तथा जोखिमहरु भने उच्च रुपमा व्यहोर्नु परिरहेको अवस्था छ । यस्ता राष्ट्रहरु अरु पनि धेरै छन् । यहि अवस्थाका कारणले नै महासन्धिका पक्षराष्ट्रहरुको मेक्सिकोमा सम्पन्न १६औँ सम्मेलनले हरित जलवायु कोष (ग्रीन क्लाइमेट फण्ड) को स्थापना गरेको हो जसले विकासोन्मुख देशहरुमा जलवायु परिवर्तन सम्बन्धि नीति, कार्यक्रम र परियोजनाहरु सञ्चालन गर्न वित्तिय सहयोग गर्नेछ ।
नेपालले पेश गरेको उक्त प्रतिबद्धता अनुसार जलवायु परिवर्तन न्युनिकरण गर्न नेपालले गर्ने कार्यहरुमा, स्वच्छ उर्जा प्रवर्धन गर्ने योजना अनुरुप आगामी सन् २०२० सम्ममा चार हजार मेगावाट जलविद्युत र सन् २०३० सम्ममा बाह्र हजार मेगावाट जलविद्युत र दुई हजार एक सय मेगावाट सौर्य उर्जा उत्पादन गर्ने लक्ष राखेको छ । त्यसैगरि कूल भूभागको ४० प्रतिशत क्षेत्र वनको रुपमा कायम राख्ने लक्ष्य राखेको छ । यद्यपि पछिल्लो बन श्रोत सर्बेक्षण (२०१०–२०१४) को तथ्यांक अनुसार नेपालको लगभग ४५ प्रतिशत भूभाग वन क्षेत्रले ओगटिसकेको छ । सोही योजनाको दीर्घकालीन सोच अनुरुप सन् २०५० सम्ममा नेपालको ८० प्रतिशत विद्युत नविकरणीय उर्जामार्फत उत्पादन गर्ने र जैविक इन्धनको प्रयोगमा ५० प्रतिशतले कमी ल्याउने लक्ष प्रस्तुत गरिएको छ । वन क्षेत्र रणनीति (सन् २०१६–२०२५) ले पनि नेपालको कार्वन मौज्दातलाई सन् २०२५ सम्ममा, सन् २०१५ को तुलनामा पाँच प्रतिशतले बृद्धि गर्ने लक्ष राखेको छ ।

बर्तमान अवस्था र अबको बाटो
यी सब योजनाअनुुसार काम गरेर नेपालले विश्वब्यापी हरितगृह ग्याँसको उत्सर्जनमा गरिरहेको योगदानलाई आधा घटाएछ भने पनि त्यो ज्यादै नगन्य मात्र हुन आउछ । नेपालले वर्षभरिमा गर्ने उत्सर्जनभन्दा त विकसित कुनै एउटा देशले एक दिनमा गर्ने उत्सर्जन धेरै हुन्छ । तर पनि तिनै विकसित देशहरु कसको धेरै जिम्मेवारी हो र उत्सर्जन न्युनिकरणमा कसले धेरै जिम्मेवारी वहन गर्नुपर्ने हो भनेर एक आपसमा दोषारोपण गर्नमै व्यस्त रहन्छन् । अनि बाध्यकारी सम्झौतामा आफूहरु हस्ताक्षर नगर्ने अनेक जाल रच्छन् । पेरिस सम्झौतामा निकारागुवाले हस्ताक्षर नगरेको पनि, विकसित मुलुकहरुले गर्नुपर्ने उत्सर्जन न्युनिकरण प्रतिबद्धता बाध्यकारी नभएको भनेर नै हो, उसले आफूले चाहेजति उत्सर्जन गर्न पाउनुपर्छ भनेर होइन । हरितगृह ग्याँस उत्सर्जनमा उसको योगदान त नेपालको भन्दा पनि कम छ । खासमा नेपालले समर्थन गर्नुपर्ने त निकारागुवालाई हो । क्योटो अभिसन्धिले पनि तोकिएको समयमा न त अपेक्षित सफलता हाँसिल गर्न सक्यो, उल्टै दोहा संसोधन पछि अभिसन्धि अनुमोदन गरेका केहि राष्ट्रहरु समेत बाहिरिए । अमेरिका बाहिरको बाहिरै रह्यो, तोकिएको सिमाभन्दा बढि उत्सर्जन गर्नेहरु गरेको गर्यै भए, दोहा संशोधन पछि बस्न मन नलाग्नेहरु बाहिरिए, मन लाग्नेहरु सन् २०२० सम्मको लक्ष्य राखेर हिँडिरहेका छन् । यस्तो जसले जे मन लाग्यो त्यही गर्न पाउने सन्धि सम्झौताको के अर्थ र ? पेरिस सम्झौताको हालत पनि क्योटो अभिसन्धिको जस्तै नहोला भनेर विश्वस्त हुन सकिने प्रशस्त आधारहरु देखिँदैनन् । विश्वकै दोश्रो ठूलो प्रदुषक अमेरिका बाहिरिइ सक्यो, पक्षराष्ट्रहरुले गर्ने उत्सर्जन कटौतीको प्रतिबद्धता स्वैच्छिक मात्र हो, बाध्यकारि होइन र उनीहरुले त्यो प्रतिबद्धता पूरा नगरेपनि केहि कारवाहि हुनेछैन । केहि दिनअघि, पेरिस सम्झौताबाट अमेरिकाको बहिर्गमन र नेपालमा त्यसको प्रभाव विषयक एक अन्तर्किया कार्यक्रममा जलवायु परिवर्तन महाशाखा प्रमूख डा. रामप्रसाद लम्सालले भन्नुभयो – “अमेरिकाले सिधै हाम्रो खातामा पैसा हालिदिने होइन, एलडिसि फण्डमा सहयोग गर्ने हो । त्यस्तो सहयोग गर्ने मुलुकहरु अरु पनि छन्, आत्तिनु पर्दैन।”
हामीलाई आउनुपर्ने पैसा आइहाल्छ भन्दैमा सम्झौताबाट जो बाहिरिएपनि हामीलाई केहि फरक पर्दैन भन्नु त्यत्ति बुद्धिमत्तापूर्ण नहोला । अमेरिका सम्झौताभित्र रहँदा तापक्रम वृद्धिलाई २ डिग्री तल राख्न सकिन्थ्यो भने ऊ बाहिरिँदा त्यो केहि मात्रामा बढ्ने पक्का छ । अनि त्यहि कोषको त्यत्तिनै रकमले गरिने अनुकुलनका कार्यक्रमहरुको प्रभाव पनि त घट्छ । अमेरिका बाहिरियो भनेर जलवायु कोषले सन् २०२० पछि वार्षिक रुपमा सहयोग गर्ने १ खर्ब डलरको सिमा त बढाएको छैन । सबै कुरालाई पैसासँग मात्र तुलना गरेर हेर्न भएन । अनुकुलनता भन्दा न्युनिकरण राम्रो उपाय हो । त्यसो त, तिमीहरुलाई चाहिने जति पैसा दिन्छौँ र हामीले चाहेजति हरितगृह ग्याँस उत्सर्जन गर्छौ भन्दै अन्य प्रमूख प्रदुषकहरु पनि बाहिरिने हो भने पृथ्विको भविष्य कता जाला ? हामीले त अहिलेसम्म हामीलाई कति पैसा आउँछ, हाम्रो देशलाई कति फाइदा हुुन्छ भनेर नाफा घाटाको हिसाबकिताब मात्र गरिरहे जस्तो लाग्छ । ती कृयाकलापहरुबाट वातावरणलाई हुने फाइदा वा नोक्सानीहरु चाहिँ के के हुन सक्छन् भनेर पनि सोच्नु पर्ने हो कि ।
“न्युनिकरणका लागि सकेसम्म प्रयास त हामीले पनि गरिरहेका छौँ नि । अनुकुलनका लागि भनेर तिमीहरुले दिने आर्थिक सहयोग हामीलाई चाहिँदैन । यदि जलवायु परिवर्तनप्रति तिमीहरु साँच्चै गम्भीर छौ भने हामीलाई छुट्याएको सहयोग रकम आफैँ खर्च गरेर तिमीहरुले गरिरहेको उत्सर्जनमा उल्लेख्य कटौती गर ता कि हामीले परिवर्तनका असरहरुसँग जुध्न अनुकुलनका कार्यक्रमहरु नै गर्न नपरोस् ।”- भनेर हामीले विकसित मुलुकहरुलाई दवाब दिन सक्ने दिन कहिल्यै आउला ? पेरिस सम्झौतामा निकारागुवा प्रस्तुत भएजस्तैगरि ।?

Reducing carbon emissions: Responsibility of key nations

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s 13th assembly in Bali, Indonesia, in 2007, first developed the concept of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

Of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, it was found that deforestation and forest degradation account for nearly 20 per cent emission in the form of carbon. Hence to reduce the GHG emission, preventing deforestation and forest land degradation was seen as one of the crucial tasks. And, for those developing and underdeveloped countries that help in reducing the atmospheric carbon by capturing and sequestering in their forests, the developed countries, listed as Annex I countries, which are the top GHG emitters, had to help them financially and technically. Based on the results of how much carbon is sequestered by the forests with reference to a certain baseline data, the forests are to be paid. This is the basic concept of carbon trading. The REDD mechanism became REDD+ and REDD++ after additional components such as sustainable management of forests and conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks are included in it.

Global temperature is soaring neither because ‘we’ (Nepalese) are consuming a high amount of fossil fuels nor because we are rapidly clearing forest lands. The amount of GHGs emitted by Nepal annually hardly equals the daily emission, if not hourly, by, for example, China alone. Similar comparisons can be made with the USA, India, Russia, Japan and the European Union. Nepal’s contribution to global GHG emission is just 0.025 per cent. Ceteris paribus, it would take forty years for Nepal to emit 1 per cent of the current annual global GHG emission. Even if we allocate our whole budget in fossil fuel only, our contribution to annual global GHG emission probably won’t reach 1 per centAnd still, we are behind REDD that aims to reduce atmospheric carbon by preventing deforestation from us, not from the top emitters! Should we always focus on forest conservation only or think about development too? It is not that development cannot be achieved within environmental protection, but instead of regulating a REDD implementation mechanism, deploying that manpower in other developmental works will be more beneficial. We are in the list of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) not because we don’t have sufficient money but because we don’t have the ability to spend it effectively and the will to develop ourselves.

Anyway, we are implementing REDD, but the issues of permanency, leakage, baseline data, etc. are raised and we are not certain to be paid again. We have been calculating the amount of dollars we deserve from our carbon sink but we don’t know if we will really get it. Just a year ago, officials were wary of the source of money for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) which is supposed to pay for the carbon sink after 4 years, i.e. 2020 AD and the scenario has not yet changed significantly.

What makes the situation worse is the recent political development in the United States, which is also the second largest GHG emitting country, where the newly elected president Donald J. Trump has expressed doubts over climate science, signifying it as a hoax. How can we expect such a country to pay for the carbon sink whose president-elect has even threatened to withdraw last year’s already ratified Paris agreement?

We have always been discussing how Nepal can get benefits from carbon trading. We hardly hear the discussions about how carbon trading benefits the environment actually, as the objective of REDD is to reduce the emissions and ultimately limit the rise in temperature. But at the same time, the top carbon-emitting countries do not seem to be serious about cutting down their emissions. Though the ratification of last year’s Paris agreement by many countries earlier than expected showed some silver linings, the recent political development seems to jeopardize the deal. It is not sure now that they will fulfill their commitment to limit the emissions.

If we really work for the environment, we must be able to tell them, the top emitters, “We don’t want any payment for the carbon we sequester. It’s our responsibility towards the environment/ the mother earth. We actually need you to cut down the emissions.” Then only will we have the ethical right to pressurize them to cut down the emissions. Otherwise, they will always go on saying that they were helping to mitigate the effects of climate change by paying for the carbon and it seems that we are letting them emit as much GHGs as they want for the sake of money. Expecting money from the one and pressurizing the same to cut emission does not seem reasonable. What if those countries themselves say that they won’t pay for the carbon sink? The USA may say so soon. Will we start deforestation to pressurize them? Certainly not.

Developed countries are also unwilling to cut down emissions in the name of ‘economic growth’. But, the Climate Group, in one of its news stories last year, wrote – “Demonstrating again that economic growth can be achieved within environmental protection, according to the document presented to the press, ‘Switzerland emits less GHG today than in 1990 despite the fact that gross national product increased by 36% over the intervening period.’”

If Switzerland can do it, can’t other countries do the same?

tht-opinion-2016-nov-17


[ Rewritten article of Carbon Trade Hallucinations (own blog) and published in The Himalayan Times, November 17, 2016. http://thehimalayantimes.com/opinion/reducing-carbon-emissions-responsibility-key-nations/ ]