Climate change and the media Nepali perspective

Recently, Nepal has been under a spell of natural disasters, unusual freakish weather, and incessant rains for days together. The disasters have taken a toll of Nepali lives, and properties worth millions are lost. In South and Southeast Asia and Pacific too a heavy toll of human lives and billions worth of material destruction have taken place, owing to the quakes and oceanic storms.

Climate change, like communication, is irreversible, continuous and complex, and so there is no blueprint for successful climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. It knows no national boundaries and no calendar of

operation; it is fiercely

urgent; it is a crisis which

is deaf to the call of time; and its course is determined by human activities as well as the degree of real ecological balance.

While avoiding the unprecedented risks and dangerous threats posed by climate change will need a huge never-before collective cooperative action at global level, the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon technologies for mitigation of the effects of climate change on the one hand ; on the other hand, adaptation to climate change for the first half of the 21st century by investing heavily in the development of climate national defence infrastructures, policy development and planning for poverty reduction like support for the MDGs , and creating conditions for sustainable development are the issues which need to be addressed with a sense of urgency of unprecedented action.

The development thinkers have rightly pointed out that the starting point for action and political leadership is recognition on the part of governments that they are confronted by what is “the gravest threat ever to have faced humanity”.

In this context , the media coverage of how and why the Nepal government acts or does not act on climate change issues and problems, and what and why Nepali people believe, value, and expect on the issues of climate change would add up to a current critique of national environmental policy as driven by national and international policy changes. It is generally believed the Nepal government does link the public opinions at the national and international levels in sharing the responsibility for initiating, formulating, adopting, applying, interpreting and evaluating its environmental policies. It is also believed that the mainstream media in Nepal have been playing a critical role in informing the public and communicating the latent messages of climate change. It is assumed that had not the media been aware of the great responsibilities that lies in covering the important issues at stake for people and planet Earth,

they would not have played their role of scrutinizing government actions and held policy- makers to account. All public efforts

and public opinion to resolve the issues are still kept alive by the critical role of the media in the country.

Apart from adapting to the inevitable climate change, the government has adopted the policy of mitigation of the harsh consequences of climate change by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, and seeking international cooperation to facilitate a low-carbon transition without compromising human development and economic growth. The media is highlighting the Nepali efforts for developing the flexible mechanisms of carbon emission trading and Clean Development Mechanism. Nepal has entered into the international market for carbon trading with the long term objective of reducing greenhouse gases. The forest sector has

also got an opportunity to mobilize international resources through the Kyoto Protocol commitments on carbon trade, climate change mitigation mechanism , and payment for environmental services.

The media has a role to propagate the idea behind the policy of Clean Development Mechanism. The Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is expected to adopt it at its fifteenth session (COP 15) in Copenhagen as the outcome of COP 13 Bali Action Plan that will make for Long- term Cooperative Action. The Copenhagen COP 15, it is hoped, shall be able to reach a consensus decision on emission reduction targets for the Kyoto Protocol parties , and shall also be able to develop an adaptation framework and establish a comprehensive future financial architecture to support huge adaptation activities in developing countries.

It is suggested the media in Nepal may adopt a climate change development communication as well as development support communication strategy and action plan with international assistance to support the national response to the COP 15 final act. The media needs to be strengthened and empowered in a country like Nepal for effective communication on the issues of climate change.

Many Nepali journalists and media organizations have conducted well and performed effectively in keeping climate change public debates alive and deepening complex knowledge about climate change in simple terms, Citizens too have a right to information about all sides to issues of national and local concerns like climate change.