Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rio+20: Climate Change and Nepal

The figure below compares CO2 emissions, projected annual temperature change and projected change in hot days/warm nights (2045-2065).

As expected, emission levels are very low in Nepal. But, annual temperature change between 2045-2065 (relative to the control period 1961-2000) is projected to be higher than in even Bangladesh, China, India and the USA. Hot days and warm nights are expected to increase by 2.5 days and 8 days respectively between 2045-2065 (relative to the control period 1961-2000).

Data source is here. The definition of CO2 emissions per unit of GDP, CO2 emissions per capita, and the projected temperature and annual hot days/warm nights is as follows:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per units of GDP are carbon dioxide emissions in kilograms per $1,000 of GDP in 2005 purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. PPP GDP is gross domestic product converted to international dollars using PPP rates. An international dollar has the same purchasing power over GDP that a U.S. dollar has in the United States.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita are carbon dioxide emissions divided by midyear population.
  • Projected annual temperature change is the projected change in annual temperature in the years 2045-2065, relative to the control period 1961-2000.  The range reflects the 10th and 90th percentiles of results from nine general circulation models (GCMs) at a standardized 2-degree grid, employing the A2 storyline and scenario family. Values are aggregated at the country level.
  • Projected change in annual hot days/warm nights are the projected changes in the annual incidence of "hot days" and "warm nights" in the years 2045-2065, relative to the control period 1961-2000.  Hot days and warm nights are those that exceed the 90th percentile of maximum temperatures and those that exceeded the 90th percentile in minimum temperatures, respectively, in the control period. These indicators are useful to understand potentially critical thresholds related to heat stress in different sectors such as agriculture and energy.  The range reflects the 10th and 90th percentiles of results from nine general circulation models (GCMs), employing the A2 storyline and scenario family. Values are then calculated at the country level from 2-degree gridded data.

Rio+20 and Nepal

High-in come countries, with one sixth of the world’s population, are responsible for nearly two thirds of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Methane and nitrous oxide produced by the agricultural sector account for about 10 percent of anthropogenic warming. Most of it comes from the guts of cattle and sheep. Globally, agriculture and land-use change and forestry contribute 14 percent and 17 percent of CO2 emissions, respectively. Read more here.

Though Nepal’s emission levels are very low, irrespective of the unit of measurement, it is disproportionately affected by the vagaries of climate change/weather. The low contribution of enablers of climate change and its high impact on economy and livelihoods call for a balanced approach to meet growth and development needs while keeping low its impact on environment. As of now, there is a tradeoff between these two and the challenge for policy makers is to find a suitable point (say country-specific Pareto optimal point for sustainable development) based on a slew of factors such as endowment, institutional capabilities, livelihood options, infrastructure necessities (including roads, ICT, irrigation, energy) and others. The impact of climate change will alter comparative advantage on agriculture trade (and also of the industrial sector that depends on agriculture sector for raw materials), reduce livelihood options, increase or decrease the average number of warm or cold days and nights, endanger communities living in mountain and low-lying areas and impact their livelihood options, engender distress migration and may induce conflict, among others. Against this backdrop, the Rio+20 (United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development) is a crucial platform for countries like Nepal to voice their concern and seek options to balance growth (jobs enriching) and environment necessities.

Nepal will propose focusing on the following key areas of sustainable development:

  • Food security and sustainable agriculture
  • Water and sanitation
  • Energy
  • Sustainable cities
  • Natural disaster
  • Green job and social inclusion
  • Mountain ecosystem

Nepal expects Rio+20 to:

  • Renew commitment of Member States for preserving the Rio principles
  • Foster implementable consensus for fulfilling the implementation gaps in the Rio declaration and other associated commitments
  • Address new and emerging challenges in a fair and equitable manner based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR)

Specifically, it wants developed countries to fulfill ODA commitment, ease transfer of technology, waive debt, ease trade barriers, and enhance capacity of LDCs. It expects an agreement on the Mountain Agenda adopted in 1992. It expects focus on green economy, especially support for harnessing its hydro-generation potential. It expects the Rio+20 Conference to “fully integrate the IPoA into its outcome document and underline renewed and scaled-up global commitment to achieve sustainable development in the LDCs.”

Read an earlier piece on Rio+20 Summit here.