Climate change as an issue has had to cross the debate phase of being untrue for a long time. While a small group still advocate it as a hoax, the overwhelming scientific data across the world, from the oceans, to the Himalayas or the atmosphere continues to prove, something is utterly wrong in our climatic patterns. The world seems to have acknowledged in principle about the visible changes seen around and seem to have kept the discussions ongoing however not to the extent that we can believe, a utopian world will soon be back and the climate woes will have been vanished. Official report on climate change by National science Academy of US and UK mention, ‘In fact, the effects of such changes are here to last’ and hence there’s a role each of us still should take and persist.
COP 21 agreement in Paris has finally made an understanding that the temperature rise should be limited to 1.50C. This legally binding deal at one hand is historic given the reluctance of countries like US which didn’t ratify Kyoto Protocol but at the other, there aren’t strong commitments and strategies on how to achieve this target. There are doubts on whether the countries will make a choice to secure the unforeseen future against currently visible economy and the short term political stability. Apart from the vested interests of the nations, the politics of the wealthy corporates especially the oil companies, coal-fired plant owners. Each group secures their own agendas but as public, the ones to bear the brunt first-hand, do we?
Jeanne Martin from the London school of economics contests the idea and says the ‘debate around climate change is no longer only about the science’ and shares the experience of his participation in one of the ADP sessions of UNFCCC in Bonn in 2014 as a member of UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC). He shares the frustration on how the carefully chosen words take center-stage at such negotiations than the voice of the real impacted people. He further shares that in current structures, civil society can only intervene at pre-determined times and for a specified period of time. But if we are to look at it from different angle and remind to ourselves, the importance of our single vote we cast to the leaders and the pressure they might feel to act large when large group of the people share common concern, something better should emerge. Our voice may not count but the vote certainly does. Anthony Giddens in his book The politics of climate change and national response quotes, ‘things don’t happen much in the national level as it does in the international level and that’s where much of the actions should happen.’ We should keep adding those small pieces until it fits in the larger picture.
When Al-Gore came up with his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006, he brought this big issue into simpler words and as a comprehensible material to the whole world. It was amazing to see how one person could have such an impact. Nobel peace prize jointly awarded with International Panel on Cimate Change (IPCC) in 2007 was an example. One initiative as such can have huge impacts anywhere. There are more such examples of grassroots campaigns in the climate change sector for instance, 350, GetUp! Action for Australia, Fossil Free, Greenpeace and Connect4climate among others. Each of these have taken up the tasks differently and all of them are scaling up the influences to mainly youth population around the world. For a country like Nepal, the highly sensitive Himalayas on the north should continually remind us to take actions from all nooks and corners. Not only will it affect Nepal but as WWF estimates, over a billion people in South Asia, and another 450 million in China completely rely on the health of this mountain landscape. The worrisome trend is the accelerated rate of warming in Himalayas which are higher than the global average. While the plains of Ganges basin warming rate is 0.01-0.030C per year, the warming in central Himalayas is 0.04-0.090C per year, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) data reports. This brings us to the urgency to act in our country level and engage in national discussions and grass-root campaigning even more than what has been observed. We should understand that no-one is better placed than us to take this message and to create synergy. Time’s ticking and we’re the competitively disadvantaged being near the Himalayas. We can’t wait!