Climate Change Adaptation- From Napa to NAP
Gehendra B. Gurung
I assume by this time there is no need for defining and clarifying what climate change is. But yet there are ambiguities among many of us what actually it is, on which many of us still are not so convinced. When we say an increase of 1 degree C global (or national) average temperature, we do not usually believe that it affects us because we have diurnal difference of more than 10 degree C between minimum and maximum, and difference of over 30 degree C between winter minimum and summer maximum. In extreme cases, we have several degree C differences. So we question ourselves why we are so panicking of just 1 degree C temperature change in our atmosphere. But the difference that we have in our heads is the daily or seasonal difference or difference in events, and the climate change is about the average of these events. Naturally the average climate values should not change significantly over the year, the annual average values of temperature should remain the same despite their diurnal and season variations. In case of precipitation it is not just the annual average but also the seasonality, the form and characteristics of precipitation. So for precipitation, it is not just the annual average, but the average change in monthly and seasonal average values also matter.
We believe in statistics. When statistics tell us that there is a significant difference between two numbers, no matters what small difference it is, it indicates that there are certain disturbances and such difference will also bring certain impacts around it as a consequence.
Nepal climate data analysis carried out by Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) of Nepal recently indicates that even a change of 0.056 degree C per year in the maximum temperature over 43 years (1971 – 2014) is highly significant which potentially can bring impacts as a consequence. So by this standard a change of 1 degree C is highly significant which will have high impacts on environment and living system. Nonetheless there is still believe that if there is a 1.5 degree C increase over 100 years of time, perhaps we can cope with it, but if it happens in short period of time, the impacts of it will be beyond our capacity to cope.
The result of DHM of 0.056 degree C per year increase is based on observed temperature data of 1971-2014. This shows over the last 43 years of time with 0.056 degree C per year, there is already an increase of 2.41 degree C in Nepal’s average maximum temperature. Unfortunately the report did not provide information on the average temperature, but the increasing trend of the minimum temperature over the same period is not significant, it is smaller than that of maximum, pulling down the mean average below 2.41 degree C, which could be still within our coping capacity.
However, we have already observed the impacts of such temperature increase on the physical and social environments. The very obvious impact we have seen is receding of snow lines and declining of snow and glacier masses, increase in number and size of lakes formed from the snow and glacier melt water. A thumb rule of relationship between temperature and elevation in Nepal is that in each 1,000m increase in elevation, there is a drop of temperature by 5 degree C. So a 1 degree C average rise in temperature will recede the snow lines around 200m vertically back with thinning in the depth of the snow and glacier deposition. We have also observed increased number of intensive flood events, extended Monsoon season in recent years, and erratic rainfall events that affect agriculture which is the main livelihood of two third of the Nepal’s population. These events have affected the poorest the most who depend on natural environment for their livelihood and have poor coping capacity.
The UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) brought the concept of NAPA (National Adaptation Programmes of Action) in 2001 specifically to support the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to address their urgent and immediate needs to cope with impacts of climate change. With the supports from the UNFCCC mechanisms and several other funding agencies, the LDCs including Nepal have prepared NAPA and are in the implementation process. NAPA is basically a response and coping approach based adaptation. Its actions are designed based on observed impacts of climate variabilities and changes. It enhances the autonomous adaptation process of the communities. So the NAPA focuses to restore the damages or impacts already being brought about by climate change and find alternatives if they cannot be restored. As for example, if there is a drought because of erratic rainfall or drying up of water sources, NAPA helps to find out alternative mechanisms to cope with the problem. Similarly, if there is damage due to flood, NAPA helps to build mechanisms to prevent from further damage of such floods, etc. So NAPA designs its action plans based on observed impacts of the events, it does not design its actions based on the anticipated impacts of climate change that is going to happen in to the future.
In view of continuous increase in global temperature and erratic events of climate variables which have been anticipated to occur for next several decades, action plans under NAPA is not sufficient. NAPA is good for supporting autonomous adaptation which is more or less a natural process.
Realising the inadequacy of NAPA to take action now to address the needs for the anticipated events of climate change in the future, which did not exist in the past several thousand years, the UNFCCC came with the concept of NAP (National Adaptation Plan) in Cancun in 2010. But still there exist some confusions between NAPA and NAP, many of us think they are the same or similar, and when we discuss on NAP, the discussions do not get differentiated from NAPA. There is a need of understanding the objectives of NAP first, which is to act now for reducing potential adverse consequences of climate change in the coming future, which is completely different from NAPA that takes the actions based on the observed events. In short NAP is forward looking action. NAP theoretically does not prepare plan to build irrigation canal to address the drought faced last year hoping the same will happen, this will be done by NAPA, but NAP asks to take actions now to address the impacts of anticipated drought in the coming years which might not necessarily be the similar that occurred in the past.
In this context implementation of NAP needs more science based future climate information in addition to observed information. Nepal NAPA has refereed that Nepal’s temperature might increase by 1.2 – 1.4 degree C by 2030, 1.7 – 2.8 degree C by 2050/2060 and 3.0 – 4.7 degree C by 2090/2100 based on pre-2000 baseline and different models. Different models show there will be increase in temperature in the coming decades, but there is uncertainty in the magnitude of increase which results uncertainties in impacts as well. This needs periodic assessment and use of best science to minimise the uncertainties- both climate change and its impacts that helps identifying and choosing the most appropriate measures.
The uncertainties are also amplified by developments in social, economic, cultural and political sectors. NAP needs periodic information on the best future scenarios of these sectors to make it more effective. Such information need to be ensured at federal, province and palika (local level government in Nepal) levels for effective development planning and implementation. The strong climate science will minimise uncertainty in future climate predictions or scenarios. A federal level climate science mechanism under the relevant ministry needs to be established, its capacity needs to be enhanced and institutional mechanism should be established that this federal level institution or organisation has access to province and palikas to ensure that province and palika level governments have access to such climate information and use it.
In order to ensure integration of climate change in development and enhance the capacity, the existing provisions for NAPA can serve as foundation for NAP, but it is not sufficient. Institutional mechanism is required to ensure climate change integration in development at palika, province and federal levels. These institutions should be permanent as climate change is going to affect for next several decades. There are some institutional mechanisms at the federal level at present in Nepal, such as Climate Change Council under the chair of Right Honourable Prime Minister and Multi-stakeholders Climate Change Initiative Coordination Committee (MCCICC). But these mechanisms are not effectively functioning. Two actions are required to make them functional and effective 1) they need to be legally recognised by defining their roles, responsibilities and authorities in relevant acts, rules, regulations and legal documents, and 2) they need to have linkages with federal and palika governments. Currently they are not legally bound and they do not have local reach. It is not necessary that there should be a separate institutional mechanism for climate change from federal to province and then to palika levels, but the institutional mechanism for climate change can also be integrated with other existing mechanism like environmental or disaster management sectors given the functions can be delivered effectively instead of creating several such organisations mechanisms for different issues.
The other core element of NAP is to integrate climate change into development sectors or in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through strategies, policies, plans and actions. Climate change is not a separate issue from other development issues, rather it amplifies the existing issues that demands additional resources and capacities. The development sectors need to understand the future climate scenario, its potential impacts on respective sectors and the right technologies to adopt now that minimise and avert the potential future impacts on the particular sector.
Technical skills need to be built in the respective sectors who will be affected by climate change and who need to take actions. As for example, water resources will be affected by climate change. Therefore the human resource working in water resource should know how the water resource will be affected by change in climate, when and where will be affected and what will be the magnitude of the effect. Based on these scenario they should have the knowledge, skill, technologies, capacity and resources to use before the impacts are felt to avert it or minimise the impacts. The sectors will require additional resources in addition to what they possess or have access now. Such additional resources need to be allocated to the respective sectors basically the financial resources.
Monitoring is essential to ensure integration of climate change in development sectors with the additional resources being allocated so that they do not just address the issues based on the past events like done by NAPA, but also address the issue based on the future events that are anticipated scientifically.
Clear policies, strategies and legal mechanism needed to ensure that development sectors integrate climate change into their development programmes and ensure resources and capacity required to address the future potential impacts of climate change.
Nepal has already initiated NAP. It is a process to ensure climate change integration in overall sustainable development goals. The process needs to produce policies, strategies and legal instruments to ensure resources and capacity to address the potential impacts of climate change effectively in the coming decades. The process should not be delayed as the impacts of climate change do not wait NAP to be prepared and implemented. So sooner we integrate climate change adaptation in development, better we avert or reduce the adverse impacts of climate change on our sustainable development goals.
Climate Change Adaptation – From NAPA to NAP
Climate Change Adaptation- From Napa to NAP