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Editorial: COP28 and Nepal

Editorial: COP28 and Nepal

COP28 has concluded with an agreement that signals the ‘beginning of the end’ for the fossil fuel era by laying the ground for a swift, just and equitable transition supported by substantial emissions reductions and increased financial commitments.

Despite this progress, the absence of a concrete deadline for phasing out fossil fuels remains a notable shortcoming, particularly in meeting the crucial 1.5-degree temperature rise limit. While celebrations echo in the Western world, the outcome has left least developed and developing countries dissatisfied.The most celebrated outcome for countries like Nepal is the operationalization of loss and damage funds. But pledges made by big countries to the fund are disappointingly low at $700m.

 Studies show developing nations require a minimum of $400bn annually to effectively address loss and damage due to climate change. Furthermore, the operational details of the fund and its beneficiaries remain unclear. Nevertheless, Nepal achieved success in highlighting the agendas of mountainous regions and issues related to the least developed countries during COP28. 

High-level rhetoric does not automatically translate into action. We have struggled to attract sufficient funds from international sources in the past. For instance, due to a lack of sufficient homework and preparations, Nepal received very minimal support from the Green Investment Fund. While Nepal is technically eligible for loss and damage funds, the responsibility lies with the country to conduct thorough groundwork and preparations. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal has returned home after attending the COP28. However, he has not held any meeting with agencies concerned to undertake the necessary preparations.

The Prime Minister is just engaged in a publicity stunt saying that Nepal has been loud and clear this time without specifying what that means. The global community is well aware of the severe impacts of climate change in Nepal. It is a brutal reality that Nepal is not alone in facing these challenges. Securing climate finance is a competitive process and it is contingent on a nation’s capacity. As far as documentation is concerned, Nepal has done a commendable job. 

The Ministry of Forests and Environment has done adequate study about the multifaceted impacts of climate change. However, Nepal lags behind in enhancing capacity for negotiations and research. While the ministry is the nodal agency for handling such issues, there is a lack of coordination among government bodies. PM Dahal should, therefore, form a high-powered mechanism dedicated to climate-related issues. The PM’s efforts to advocate for Nepal’s agenda will be judged by tangible actions, not mere words.