I was surprised at the rise of pro-environment and donor friendly articles relating to the ratification of Kyoto Protocol in your paper (#224). The logic forwarded by the two writers (Navin Singh Khadka and Bikash Pandey) for Nepal to sign Kyoto are ridiculous while the biggest carbon dioxide emitters have not ratified it. The first thing is to judge the extent of damage and to divide the responsibility for climate change. Nepal's contribution is negligible and we have more to lose than gain by signing such conventions. The gain of $4.5 million from biogas plants is peanuts compared to the future cost Nepal will bear as it moves towards industrialisation. The cheapest source of energy will be petroleum-based fuels and we should be looking at the country's economic growth rather than agreeing to the terms of the donor community. The issue of trading carbon is an expensive option as it brings small revenue while creating a long-term negative impact on economic growth.
. Your latest issue (#224) had three writeups, including the editorial, on the benefits for Nepal of ratifying Kyoto. I am sure that Kyoto would help reduce carbon emissions and slow down global warming and the melting of our glaciers and snow. But would Nepal benefit economically as the articles argue? And if it does, which Nepalis will benefit?
In the past 30 years we were told the forest was our wealth (hariyo ban Nepalko dhan). Who benefited from this slogan and the timber? Certainly not the poor. And later we were told of the tremendous economic benefits Nepal would reap from our hydro-electricity. But who benefited the most? Millions still have no access to electricity and those who do, pay the highest power tariffs in the world. Multinationals and their agents in Nepal have benefited from the rates (Bhote Kosi, Khimti) or the 'payment' they get for not working (Kali Gandaki, Marsyangdi) based on the contracts that our own leaders so generously signed. Would Nepalis really be able to afford the rates Nepal Electricity Authority would be forced to charge because of the high cost it will have to pay others? Would we end up subsidising export of electricity to India while poor Nepalis would be forced to use biogas plants? We should stop dreaming in green. Nepal may get $200 million and more for biogas program and other 'green' programs but would much of it remain in Nepal? Would it benefit the millions of Nepalis who, because of their lifestyle, help earn the money? What would the money be spent on? On the military? On buying luxurious cars and paying medical expenses of the super elite? On distributing bonuses to party workers? On paying off our loans to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank? On paying one fourth of the income to foreign consultants to tell us what we should do with the money? Are most Nepalis condemned to forever remain bucolic? To have their elite benefit from 'green' income and pay for the environmental sins of polluting rich countries?
. Thank you for that comprehensive coverage and Bikash Pandey's compelling arguments in favour of Kyoto ratification (#224). As Pandey says, there isn't just a moral long-term reason Nepal should ratify the Kyoto Protocol. We bear the direct impact of climate change. Those hand-wringing free-marketers who are still in denial may realise 20 years from now that the planet's surface is indeed warming due to fossil fuel combustion. But by the time they do something about it, it may be too late to save our mountains, and for the Maldives and Bangladesh. The ostriches with their heads in the sand are the governments of the United States and Australia whose politics is governed so much by the oil and coal lobby that their brains are fossilised. Nepal should set an example to the rest of the world by being clean and green, not just because it is ecologically correct but because it makes economic sense. And if someone is going to pay us for propagating renewable energy and for forest conservation, what's the harm?