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Climate

Facts & Figures from Nepal bring a Vote for the Worse

Nepal is a small landlocked mountainous country located between the world's two most populous countries: India to the east, west and south and China to the north. The total land area is 147,181 square kilometer.

Agriculture is a main activity of the economy and this covers more than 80 % of the population. About 80% of the total population depends on the forest for the daily fuel wood supply. About 6000 rivers and streams have made country Nepal, as one of the richest countries in the world.

Nepal, along with over 150 other countries, signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. Nepal ratified the convention on 2nd May in 1994, and this convention came into force on 31st July in 1994.

In accordance with the IPCC guidelines, Nepal's GHG inventory is divided into 5 main categories: Energy activities, Industrial Processes, Agriculture, Land-use change and Forestry, and Waste Management. The national GHG inventory represents emission data for three gases having direst Greenhouse effects: Carbon dioxide, Methane and Nitrous Oxide.

Carbon dioxide: Net emissions of CO2 in the country were estimated at 9747Gg for the base year 1994/1995. The contributor includes the transport sector (31%), Industrial sector (27%), Residential sector (22%), Commercial sector (11%) and the remaining (9%) is shared by Agriculture sector.

Methane: In 1994/95, total methane emissions in Nepal were estimated at 948Gg. 867Gg emissions came from Agriculture sector. Energy related combustion activities, such as biomass burning; incomplete combustion of fossil fuels had also contributed in methane production. Lower amount of methane was also estimated from solid waste disposal and waste water treatment.

Nitrous Oxide: The major source of nitrous oxide emissions in 1994/95 was agriculture soils from where 27 Gg of this gas were released to the atmosphere. Also 2 Gg of N2O emissions were estimated from manure management for the same year. Indirect N2O emissions from human sewage were estimated to be 1.10 Gg for the base year 1994/95.

Vulnerability "Yield will will be reduced for all crops at 4o C temperature rise"

Various anthropogenic activities are altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Data on climate states that there is a rising trend of temperature these changed impacts are seen mainly on agriculture, water resource, forest and health sector.

Majority of the people are dependent on agriculture and this sector is adversely affected by the loss of the top fertile soil due to soil erosion, landslides and floods. Therefore, soil loss is one of the major causes of decline in agricultural production. The increase in temperature will adversely affect warmer environment crop. The yield will be reduced for all crops at 4o C temperature rise.

Changes in hydrological cycles and the depletion of water resources are some of the top

"Global warming may cause forest damage"

environmental challenges facing Nepal in the context of global warming. It is estimated that a temperature rise of 4oC can result in the loss of 70% of snow and glacier area due to melting of snow and ice. This melt water will contribute to the faster development of glacier lakes, and this will lead to increased potential for Glacier Lake out burst flood hazards.

Forest of Nepal has been shrinking mainly because of anthropogenic activities. Forest area and quality are decreasing with extensive utilization and increasing demands for forest products. Further, global warming may cause forest damage through migration towards the polar region, changes in their composition, extinction of species etc.

Risk of diseases like Malaria, Kalaazar and Japanese Encephalitis outbreak on health is another potential impact of climate change. Particularly, subtropical and warm temperate regions of Nepal would be more vulnerable.

"Risk of diseases"

It is quite difficult to implement any policies and measures unless public has deep perception and appreciation of the climate change issues. Political and socio- economic conditions and circumstances again prevent the country fully understanding the government's climate change related policy formulation.

Technology transfer is an important to assist developing country like Nepal to address climate change appropriately. Financial support and appropriate terms and condition are the crucial things governing the transfer process. Nepal as a country with no fossil fuels deposits should focus for renewable energy like hydropower, biomass. This can certainly meet the energy needs of the country from emission free sources.

Because of this, Nepal is in safe position to take the advantage of the global concern over climate change.

About the Author: Sital Kafley lives in Kathmandu and is active in Environmental Management.

Also of interest: Attenborough calls for Himalayas to get UN protection
"The Independent Newspaper", 17 November 2004.

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