Copenhagen Accord and Nepal: Precise, appropriate projects needed

January 31, 2010 marked the deadline given by the UNFCCC to its member states to ratify the Copenhagen Accord, the deal that had witnessed a large scale controversy during the 15th convection of Parties held in Copenhagen between December 7-18 last year. The roots of the major resentment lay on the undemocratic process it adopted as well as well as in the outcome which failed to result in an adequate, fair and binding (FAB) GHG reduction targets.

By the set deadline, UNFCCC has received 55 pledges for direct emission reduction, 24 proposals for mitigation, and 28 letters gesturing that those would consent the accord. Nepal forms the last category which through a letter of January 31 informed the UNFCCC secretariat that it would like to associate with the accord.

Nepal, as any other least developed country, did not require committing any emission reduction targets nor did it require commissioning Nationally Adopted Mitigation Action (NAMA). In accordance with this provision, Nepal has simply sent a letter of ‘association’ without any reduction or mitigation commitments. This, however, has opened the avenue for Nepal to seek a stake in the annual US $ 10 billion the developed country parties have pledged through the accord till 2012 for the adaptation and mitigation related causes. Besides, this also would create a prequalification towards common access to annual US $ 100 billion by 2020 the developed partners would like to pledge by that time.

Despite the flaw in the overall process and despite the lack of clarity about how the money could be accessed, developed countries have at least shown their readiness to put the money on the table for the cause of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the developing world. While countries like Nepal may get some preferential treatment, on account of their least developed status and high vulnerability, the resource would not find its way into the country by default. Timely drawing of a sound and convincing set of projects and submitting the same to the UNFCCC will be inevitable requirements if Nepal wants to ensure an access of this globally competitive scarce climate fund. This is something Nepal can take home from the experience of CDM credits as provisioned under the Kyoto Protocol: a lion’s share (over 67 per cent) of which goes to countries like China and India. To date no guidelines are available that would tell what exact types of projects would qualify the cause. Neither is there any clear indication of the structure of the proposal this may entail. However, given that the funds are severely limited against which many aspiring countries would like to compete, Nepal has little choice than starting real homework here and now. Given this situation we may have little alternatives left than being guided by conte-mporary UNFCCC climate friendly ethos for making headways towards drawing the proposals. In this backdrop we might consider the following projects for the purpose at hand:

Research portfolio: Participatory research to reveal extent, nature and impact of climate change in different communities in the various settings within the country and the way those could be addressed or intervened. Establishment of a permanent research centre would be a worthwhile endeavor.

Education/extension: Awareness raising by different means including establishment of climate change information centre

Mitigation: Preparing and implementing comprehensive Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) that would include all sectors ranging from transport, energy, industry, forestry as well as rest of the land use sector. As for REDD, the process of drawing Readiness proposal is already on the way. Given that substantial support may be forthcoming from the same institution towards the implementation of the proposal thus drawn, only the component that might not be covered under the scheme should be considered. For rest, anything that is in the country’s priority could be considered as long as it has a conspicuous climate mitigation potential to offer. Possibility of financing Kathmandu-Nijgadh fast track, for example, though may be challenged, may not be totally out of consideration owing to its great potential to reduce emission from efficiency over the years. Other possible projects could include community based wind power, small scale hydro power, solar power for which the country has nearly infinite scope. Adaptation: Given that NAPA preparation is already in progress, we will have to wait until what priority action might be taken towards adaptation.

The above are only the examples of the types of things that could be considered for applying to the UNFCCC funding as per the potential opportunity brought about by Copenhagen Accord. Picking the precise and right type of project, however, needs a wide scale consultation and deliberation am-ong relevant stakeholders within the country. It is high time for the country to start the process so as to ensure that it can access the UNFCCC climate funds in the best interest of the Nepalese people and the global environmental conservation.

Baral is Joint Secretary, Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation