Climate & Environment

Climate scientists gather in Kathmandu as country reels from floods and landslides 

  • Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli stresses that Nepal is already experiencing the effects of climate change--despite its nominal role in the global crisis.
- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

Jul 15, 2019-

At a time when the country is battered by torrential rainfall, which is being linked with effects of climate change, more than 260 climate scientists gathered in Nepal, one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world, to discuss climate change’s impact and assess vulnerability and adaptation measures. 

The climate scientists and bureau members of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from more than 60 countries are in Kathmandu for the Second Lead Authors Meeting of IPCC Working Group (II) for deliberations as part of their preparation for the Sixth Assessment Report which is scheduled to be out in 2022.

Policymakers and climate scientists hope that the timing of the gathering in Nepal is perfect for drawing global attention to Nepal and the whole region which is highly vulnerable and already witnessing adverse impacts of climate change.

In the most recent instance of extreme weather events in the country, incessant heavy rainfalls, floods landslides claimed more than five dozen lives in various parts of the country.  

“Meeting here in Kathmandu reminds us--in a very direct way--of the strong interdependence of human and natural systems, and how both are threatened by climate change,” said Working Group II Co-Chair Debra Roberts.

Nepal is considered one of the most vulnerable countries in the world for climate change effects. The latest landmark study in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region, which covers 3,500 kilometres across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan, has projected an alarming future for poor and geographically challenged countries like Nepal.

The study by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has concluded that the region would lose one-third of the region’s glaciers by the end of the century.

“The purpose of our report is to provide options for adaptation action that will enable cities like Kathmandu and ecosystems such as the high mountains to thrive and contribute towards improved well-being and sustainable development. Key aspects of our report and reasons to act on climate change are very evident here,” said Roberts. 

According to David Molden, Director General of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the co-host of the event, the region which is a critical resource for Asia is undergoing climatic changes which need both special attention and collective response.

“This year on Asadh 15—the day for paddy plantation in Nepal—there was almost no rain. But when the rain arrived two weeks later, it rained so much that various parts of the country, including Kathmandu, witnessed floods. All of this highlights extreme weather events. The climate is becoming unpredictable in the region,” said Molden.

“For many reasons your [the delegation’s] visit to Nepal sends a signal that this mountain region and people are getting the attention it deserves in respect to climate change.”  

As an intergovernmental body of the United Nations, the IPCC provides scientific evidence of climate change; its impact on various sectors as well as possibilities dedicated to providing the world with an objective; scientific view of climate change, its natural, political and economic impacts and risks; and possible adaptation and mitigation solutions.  

“The new scientific findings to be provided in the upcoming assessment report will particularly include projected risk, different levels of warming, including their impacts, and the need for transformation,” Thelma Krug, vice-chair for the IPCC said.

Before the Sixth Assessment Report, the IPCC will release two other similar reports--Climate Change and Land and Ocean and Cryosphere in Changing Climate--this year.

Inaugurating the four-day event, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said Nepal is already experiencing the effects of climate change despite its nominal role in the global crisis. 

“The country is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change although our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is negligible,” Oli said. “Rising temperature, retreating glaciers and erratic rainfall extreme weather events are causing damages to our people and economy.”  

“The climate is becoming more vulnerable and unpredictable. We received a delayed monsoon. We also had first tornado in our recorded history,” said Oli. “As a result of rapid industrialisation, the adverse impact of climate change is also increasing. Agriculture is most affected by aggravated floods and other disasters.” 

At the meet, Oli also emphasised how climate change has unequal impacts. “Some countries are well prepared to deal with them, but countries like Nepal are most vulnerable,” said Oli. “I urge scientists to consider small mountainous and small-island nations while preparing the report.”  

 

Published: 16-07-2019 08:00

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