Nepali Times
Ratify Kyoto

Many things that urgently need to be done in this country are being sidelined because of the conflict and its attendant crises. In fact, the insurgency is often offered as an excuse. "How can you talk of health, education, vaccination or the environment when we have other more urgent priorities," is the usual refrain. In fact, providing these services should be an essential part of the government's efforts towards resolving the conflict, not killing more people.

To be sure, patching up the differences between the parties and the palace and restarting the peace process should be a priority. But let's not forget essential decisions that must be taken within the country and outside. One issue that needs the urgent attention of the prime minister as soon as he returns from Lumbini is Nepal's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol which is so plainly in our own short and long-term interests.

There is a misconception that climate change will submerge island and delta nations and we'll all be high and dry. Actually, the most visible signs of global warming are not along the Ganga-Bramhaputra delta or in the Maldives but all along the Himalaya. The snows are melting, glaciers are receding and glacial lakes are threatening to burst their banks. Even if global average temperatures increase by half the projected scenario, sometime in the middle of this century our Himalayan water towers will have started melting.

You don't expect politicians to have time horizons to worry about what will happen in 2055. The American administration is certainly not worried and our politicians are wont to argue that if the Americans aren't budging why should we bother? Besides, it looks like the planet's surface will continue to warm well into the 2100s even if the emission cuts under Kyoto are implemented.

But the reason Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba should move urgently this week to get Kyoto ratified (by ordinance because there is no parliament) is because we stand to lose millions of dollars under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) trading the carbon we have not emitted because of Nepal's success in promoting renewable energy.

In the next 20 years, Nepal could be rewarded for not pumping 50 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere and collect up to $200 million just from its biogas program alone. Additionally, as fossil fuels get scarce and more expensive our own hydropower will be a much more competitive export.

After Russia's ratification last month, Kyoto now addresses more than 61.6 percent of global carbon emissions and will go ahead (Australia and the United States, the two non-ratified make up the rest.) Whether or not Nepal ratifies is certainly not an issue for Kyoto. But it is an issue for us. Since we do everything at the last moment anyway, it's not too late for Deuba to move fast to get Nepal's ratification in time for the Conference of Parties (COP-10) in Buenos Aires next week.

Even if we don't do it for the planet, let's at least do it for ourselves.

STOP PRESS: Good news: the cabinet on Monday approved ratification. Not so good news: the ordinance has to be approved by the king this weekend.

COMMENT: Why Nepal needs Kyoto >>
CLIMATE CHANGE: Better late than never >> | "Mt Everest is not melting" >>

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)