Tackling Climate Threat
Least developed countries like Nepal are least responsible for global warming and climate change, but paradoxically, they are most vulnerable to the impact of this hostile global phenomenon. This is the point where President Bidya Devi Bhandari was placing her emphasis while addressing the inaugural session of the International Conference on Biodiversity, Climate Change Assessment and Impacts on Livelihood the other day. It has been scientifically established that global temperature started to rise along with the industrial revolution one and half centuries ago and the trend of warming has not stopped. Scientists have said that the most recent years have been recorded as the warmest in history. It has also been established that excessive burning of fossil fuels is chiefly responsible for the rise in global temperatures that have triggered disastrous climatic and weather consequences. Rich, industrialised and developed countries burn the largest chunk of fossil fuels, hence they are chiefly responsible for the excessive emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases known as greenhouse gases. But everybody has to bear the brunt of the negative impact of climate change irrespective of their role in polluting the atmosphere. The problem is global and the countries that have no significant role in emitting carbon into the atmosphere are not spared. Moreover, poor people living in the least developed countries are still more vulnerable to the impact of climate change as they are financially and technologically less equipped to deal with the hazardous consequences.
The adverse impacts of warming and climate change are multi-dimensional and the effects on biodiversity, livelihood, public health and agriculture are among them. For a country like Nepal blessed with rich biodiversity, impact of climate change is a matter of paramount concern because threats to and loss of valuable flora and fauna are going to have serious effects on the existing ecosystem and environmental health. This will directly affect health, livelihood and economic life of the common people. Natural calamities like glacial lake outburst floods, avalanches, extreme forms of rains and storms pose increasing threats to lives of the people. Irregular rainfall patterns, prolonged droughts, drying up of traditional water sources and emergence of new vector borne diseases are attributed to climate change. These symptoms have made lives more difficult. The President pointed out that reckless human activities are to be blamed for the loss of crucial biodiversity which stands as nature’s life support system. Inhospitable developments like loss of livelihood and drying up of water sources have forced people to migrate for better life. The question is how to resolve this problem in a fair and urgent manner. The issue of climate change needs to be tackled with two-pronged strategy. For the short term, vulnerable people should be supported to adapt to change. According to the polluters pay principle, industrialised nations should invest in clean energy and livelihood support schemes for the poor. In the long run, all countries need to bring a drastic cut in the burning of fossil fuels and adopt a mode of economy that is green, healthy and sustainable.