“Who Cares?” Climate Change Is Pushing Nepal Towards Economic Catastrophe
Nepal is at a complex vent of climate sensitive spot in the world because of its landlocked and fragile plate tectonic geoseismological characteristics. It is a small south Asian country located between two giant countries China and India. It shares high diversity in natural ecology includeing high mountain ranges to plain lands, swift seasonal cycles and itsuffers unexpected climate tragedy on a regular basis.
Now warming in Nepal is growing faster than the average global warming temperature. Temperatures measured in Nepal varies from minus thirty degree Celsius to plus forty degree Celsius in a single day, within less than hundred miles of the country. The livelihood of the majority of people is dependent on agricultural earnings and exploitation of natural resources. The ongoing developments are very expensive and climate sensitive, they are mostly associated with water, roads, hydroelectric power etc. Climate induced disasters (floods, landslides, acidic/less/more/unseasonal rains, soil erosion, and seasonal/temperature changes, deforestation, droughts, intensive decrease in agricultural productivity) are the major problems and impact of climate disposition.
Climate induced disaster and its impact cost is a huge financial portion of our GDP which is going beyond the affordability of the country and its development partners.
Remarkably, Nepal is a big victim of climate change, though it contributes a negligible portion of global pollution. Statistically analyzed economic status justified that Nepal is no longer in a position to afford the economic impact of climate change. Although, in cooperation and collaboration with various domestic and international development partners, the Government of Nepal has also taken several initiatives to respond to the contemporary challenges and issues of climate change which must be considered as a praiseworthy role.
Nepal has established an environment ministry and related department and taken other policy and legislative initiatives, launched programs and projects, promoted nationwide mainstreaming of the climate change sensitivity, undertaken a wide range of international and domestic lobbying. Nepal also has strong partnerships with line and staff agencies inside and outside the country, considered to be aggressive actions and definitely a step ahead towards positive achievements.
In addition to domestic legislation and executive instruments, Nepal’s Government has already owned several international, intergovernmental, regional, multilateral and bilateral instruments that justify that the country is really serious and active to take all types of possible action to minimize the impact of climate change. Let’s encourage Nepal to support its mission against climate change.
The government is also mobilizing and working with nongovernmental agencies and has already set up customized types of broader technical and generalized special mechanisms in several ministries and their departments (prime minister office, home, agricultural, environment, industry, national planning commission, physical planning etc.) to minimize the vulnerability and potential risk of climate change. Therefore, all concerned stakeholders should concentrate to save the tiny Himalaya nation otherwise it will drag soon into economic catastrophe and will lose its existence from the active global partnership.
The economic impact of climate change may be discussed in several brief categories. Firstly, let’s argue about livelihood perspective in Nepalese context. Approximately 80% of Nepal’s population is dependent on agriculture and associated activities. It shares 40% contribution in total GDP of Nepal. People are hooked on natural and herbal products, forest and jungle products, river and lake, hills and mountain products. There are many more natural areas where they are able to earn and manage their livelihood, so any unexpected negative changes in the natural climate system is dangerous to their livelihood, which may obviously lead to serious economic deficit in individual and also the national account of the country.
Secondly, agronomic perspective is greatly impacted by climate change. A majority of the agricultural area of Nepal still depends on natural rainfall/irrigation, and crop friendly environment, but the unexpected droughts, acidic and abnormal rainfall, landslides, changes in geographical shape and dramatic changes in temperature have caused much damage to the agricultural productivity of the nation. These problems devastate the income and products of the farmers, and causes them serious economic difficulties. Consequently many people are severely frustrated by the agricultural sector and are changing their occupations. Our thousands of acres of agrarian lands are unattended and unproductive, create massive economic loss and this is a threat to our national economy and is causing major food deficits.
Thirdly, Nepal has become an epicenter of disasters. It includes regular floods, landslides, droughts, ozone layer changes, dramatic weather/temperature changes etc. Nepal very often encounters horrible disasters and it has become the unmanageable fate of Nepalese people. Annually, Nepal has lost hundreds of people and billions of dollars of monetary loss due to disasters that no one can prevent or afford, if it happens regularly. Every year the size of disaster sensitive budget is being almost doubled to deal with the issues and impact of climate change. Indirect investment cost is several times higher than the direct visible investment against climate change. Multimillion dollar projects are going on in soft and hard side of the management areas to respond to the issues. The disaster issues related to water induced problems are very expensive. It is almost impossible to afford from the country’s national budget. Also, the agricultural cycle and process is becoming more complex and costly every year, and that has added an additional burden to the national economy and people of Nepal. The estimated cost of the events in disaster area is now estimated around $400 million/year.
Fourthly, hydroelectric is deeply affected by climate change. Load shedding for up to 18 hours per day causes many areas to have no ligh or power at all. Nepal is rich in water resources and has higher energy potentiality but the country is suffering with regular load shedding, absence of electricity due to unpredictable changes in water level and flows of rivers and lakes. The production cost of hydroelectricity is dramatically changing and being overwhelmingly higher and unaffordable.
Fifthly, Nepalese health is now at critical risk due to the brutal impact of climate change. It is because Nepalese living style and livelihood is over-dependent on nature and its byproducts.
The majority of Nepalese habitation, homes, workplaces are not built or prepared in a climate sensitive manner so they are quickly affected if there are any unexpected changes in climate. Some climate sensitive diseases are on the rise in Nepal and treatment cost is estimated to be higher than other diseases. It is believed that every family has two members who are suffering with some kind of critical disease brought on by climate change. So they are undergoing treatment in Nepal and abroad which is estimated to cost $3 billion per year but it requires further study to conclude the amount and degree exactly. Also, people are compelled to change their houses locations from one place to another place due to impact of disasters and other environmental changes that also cost a lot of money.
Sixthly, Nepal government has set up several administrative institutional mechanism, program, activities under ministry of environment and other line and staff agencies that cost annual estimated $ 4 billion per year for operation and management. Additionally, Nepal Government is a part of several international communities and events so just to fulfill domestic and international commitment Government has to spend billions of US dollar to meet the contingency and other need of the issue.
However, people and government of Nepal are serious and really started to pay attention to be together with world movement to fight against climate change and minimize its impact in aggressive manner. Consequently, Nepal has ratified and part of almost all concerned international instruments related to climate change and some of them are positively under considerations. The country has addressed the issue by addressing under its constitution to give high priority as constitutional issue. Besides, there are several policies and legislative infrastructures and sectorial plans, programs and activities which are now in the hand that deals with the impact of climate change specially in economic areas of the country. But in reality, the impact is so huge and country is small to encounter it. Simply it is unfordable to the country and its people. It won’t be a surprise if the country declares bankrupt in economic sense to afford the needy expenses alone for climate change. Must be taken into account that Nepal is the country where it is estimated that more than 70% people are still struggling to fulfil its basic need of life as per average wellbeing standard of the world.
Therefore, everyone should understand that climate change issue is a global issue and latter or sooner it affects to all. Thus, we all stakeholders of the planet should come together and careful about the future. All should join hand to each other collaboratively to fight against the impact of climate change regardless its geography, class, age, sex, ethnicity, profession and locations. We must care and act responsibly about our present and future generations. We have the responsibility to save the world for happy and prosperous future. Let’s live and do let all living beings/creatures of the world to live them in natural manner. In this context, Nepal is a small stakeholder who pollutes less but affected more. Hence, all should help and contribute Nepal to fund and provide necessary support to fight against the climate changes. Let’s start together right now, without any delay to help Nepal and its people to strengthen the movement in effective way against climate change otherwise the country will soon move towards economic catastrophe, if the situation is not addressed properly by all leading global members, country or institutions of the world.