UN Chief Guterres Urges COP28 Action as Nepal’s Mountains Cry for Help

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Prime Minister Dahal calls for climate justice, backed by compensation and funding for vulnerable countries.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has raised the issue of the climate crisis that the Himalayas are facing and its terrible impact on the lives of local communities.

Speaking at an event organised by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on the sidelines of the COP 28 in Dubai of the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, Guterres said: “It is deeply shocking to learn how fast the Himalayan glaciers are melting. And deeply distressing to hear first-hand from local communities about the terrible impact on their lives.”

The UN secretary general visited Nepal at the end of October and toured the Everest and Annapurna regions, taking stock of how the climate crisis impacts local communities and how fast ice is melting across the Himalayas.

“Nepal, and other vulnerable mountain countries, are being pounded by a crisis that is not of their making,” said Guterres at the event in Dubai. “The country has lost close to a third of its ice in just over 30 years—a direct result of the greenhouse [gas] pollution heating our planet.”

While in Nepal, the UN chief had assured of raising the issue of the climate crisis in the Himalayas and its impact on local communities. The countries responsible for inviting this crisis should compensate Nepal, he had said.

Explaining how the climate crisis is making things worse, Guterres said that swollen lakes and rivers are flooding, sweeping away entire communities. This means rising seas are threatening communities around the world.

“Melting is accelerating and unless we change course, we will unleash a catastrophe: The glaciers could disappear altogether,” Guterres said on Saturday.

“Nepal’s mountains are crying out for help and COP28 must respond,” said Guterres. “The Global Stocktake [evaluation of the global action on climate action and support] must… create the conditions for a surge in global climate action in 2025 and beyond.”

The UN chief said that the COP should deliver in terms of finance and climate justice.

There can be no climate action without the money to pay for it, said the UN chief. “I am calling for developed countries to clarify the delivery of the $100 billion, and to produce a clear plan to double adaptation finance to $40 billion a year by 2025—as a first step to devoting half of climate finance to adaptation.”

World leaders US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping and some others whose countries are responsible for the global climate crisis are not attending COP28. The poor and underdeveloped nations who are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis mostly created by the rich and industrialised countries are calling for climate justice, finance and compensation to them by the rich, industrialised countries without further delay.

“But those sums are dwarfed by the scale of what’s needed. So, we need the outcome of this COP to call for reform of the International Financial Institutions so that they reflect today’s world and are far more responsive to the needs of developing countries,” the UN chief said. “And for reform of the business models of the Multilateral Development Banks so that they can leverage far more private finance at reasonable cost to developing countries like Nepal.”

Responding to the climate disaster shouldn’t create a financial disaster, so, we also need the outcome of the COP to support an increase in the proportion of climate finance delivered as grants and concessional finance, he added.

Guterres also called for the developed, rich and industrialised nations to boost support for the Loss and Damage Fund.

It was an extremely important decision to move forward with it, but we must put serious money into it, said Guterres, adding that COP28 needs to set the world up for emissions to plummet. There are calls to put a cap on rising temperature, as Guterres said the door is closing at 1.5 degrees.

This COP outcome must set a clear expectation that countries’ 2025 Nationally Determined Contributions will align with the 1.5-degree temperature rise limit, cover the whole economy, and be delivered on time, he added.

Besides Guterres, Prime Minister of Andorra Xavier Espot Zamora and representatives from various mountainous countries, particularly the Kyrgyz Republic, Bhutan, Slovenia, Montenegro, attended the event hosted by Nepal alongside those from the United Nations Development Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and Climate Analytics.

Guterres stated that fossil fuels must go and nations should commit to doubling the energy efficiency, and bring clean energy to all by 2030, and the Global Stocktake must strengthen international cooperation.

“We need collaboration between governments, and between countries and companies, to drive down emissions, and to protect everyone on earth with an effective early warning system by 2027. Nepal is an essential candidate to have an effective early warning system,” he said.

Addressing the event, Prime Minister Dahal said the escalating ramifications of climate change in mountains and the cryosphere are perilous to both humankind and ecosystems.

Citing the latest report by the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), Dahal said that human-induced global warming has triggered unprecedented chaos. The report clearly highlighted that the mortality rate in regions with a low degree of vulnerability to cyclones, floods, and droughts is fifteen times that of areas with a high degree of vulnerability.

This is simply unacceptable, said the prime minister. “Mountains matter for the identity and dignity [of humans], and ecological and environmental integrity.”

Nepal hosts the highest place in the world, Mount Everest, and is facing a crisis posed by the changing climate more than anywhere else. “Climate change impacts all, irrespective of the colour, caste, and social well-being of the people,” Dahal added. “Therefore, I, as the prime minister of Nepal, appeal to the international community to ‘save our mountains to save ourselves’”.

The prime minister stressed the importance of initiating a dialogue on mountain and climate change to address the problems facing mountain communities.

Nearly 100,000 delegates from 198 countries are participating in the global conference that started on Thursday and will run through December 12.

Addressing the COP event, Prime Minister Dahal said the message of 30 million Nepalis is: “Mountains are tortured by rising temperatures. Save them first!”

The findings of the recent IPCC report that climate-induced disasters are breaking records in the Himalayas are deeply concerning, he added. “We have already lost a third of our glaciers, and scientists have warned that we are going to lose another third by the end of this century. This is a wake-up call.”

The Himalayas are foundations of human civilisation, ecosystems, and biodiversity, said Dahal in the address. They are the source of livelihood for billions of people.

Nepal is bearing a direct, disproportionate, and damaging effect of climate change despite its near-zero contribution to global emissions. “Our people are severely affected by climate-induced disasters such as landslides, floods, wildfires, glacial lake outbursts and drought. This utter injustice must stop,” said the prime minister.

“We are waging a war with ourselves and the future generations only to satisfy our short-sighted and self-serving interests,” Dahal said, calling for justice for the Nepalis who are victims of the climate catastrophe.

Expressing Nepal’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, the prime minister said Nepal is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2045, five years earlier than the global target. He also pledged to fully utilise Nepal’s hydropower potential to harness clean energy and maintain 45 percent forest cover.

He informed the international community that Nepal’s attempts to implement climate change adaptation and mitigation plans were facing serious financial and technological gaps. The least developed countries are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and are in desperate need of financial and technological support.

“As the chair of LDCs, I urge the developed economies and international community for more predictable, adequate and equitable resources and technologies for LDCs,” said the prime minister.

Dahal also urged the developed nations to scale up climate finance to make up for the $100 billion shortfall and double the adaptation finance by 2025, ensuring fair financial arrangements without conditions, constraints, and compliances.

“We demand grants and justice to address this crisis,” said Dahal, leading the cause of mountain countries.

“The Loss and Damage Fund must be predictable, simplified, and adequate for LDCs and mountainous countries.”

Source: The kathmandu Post