Polls to affect Nepal’s CoP-19 participation


KATHMANDU, Nov 9: As the country braces for the upcoming Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, Nepal is likely to have a weak participation in the UN climate talks beginning next week in Warsaw, Poland.

The UN climate talks, popularly known as the Conference of Parties (CoP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), is usually attended by the heads of the states. In the past, Nepal´s delegation to the CoP were either headed by the prime minister or environment minister.

However, as Poland gears up to host the nineteenth session of CoP in its capital city of Warsaw, the government has asked its permanent representative to the UN Durga Bhattarai to lead the Nepali delegation team. Bhattarai will be accompanied by two joint secretaries from the Ministry of Environment (MoE) and one joint secretary from the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM).

“Nepal´s weak participation in CoP-19 will send a message that we have yet not given priority to issues surrounding climate change,” said Ganesh Shah, former Minister of Environment and Science and Technology.

According to Shah, who led the Nepali delegation to CoP-14, which was held in Poland in 2008, the content of the paper to be presented by Nepal in the UN climate talks will be the same, whether read out by the head of the state, minister or secretary. However, he added, “It gets weight if it is read out by the head of the state or a minister. If a secretary reads it, it will surely lose its weight.”

According to a senior official atOPMCM, MoE had submitted a proposal to the cabinet meeting to send either the environment minister or the environment secretary as the head of the Nepalese delegation team to the CoP-19. However, the cabinet rejected the proposal, stating that they must be present in the country until the CA polls, which will take place on November 19. The CoP-19, which will kick off on November 11, is scheduled to conclude on November 22.

“Our participation in CoP has never been so weak in the past,” said Batu Krishna Upreti, a former joint secretary who has represented the Nepal government several times in the UN climate talks. “If not the prime minister, we should send environment minister as the head of our delegation.”

Outcomes of CoP could be critical to how the Nepal government moves forward to protect its people from the effects of climate change. As the chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) coordination committee under UNFCC, Nepal is responsible for negotiating with developed countries for financial as well as technical assistance required for all 49 Least Developed Countries (LDC).

“We must work hard to turn the outcome of the CoP in our favor,” said Upreti. “We are facing the effects of climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions for which the developed countries are largely responsible. We must press them to provide necessary support to us so that we can put in place best plans and programs to help our people adapt to the impacts of climate change.”

However, as Nepal fails to send a high-level delegation team to CoP-19, possibility of LDC group leader being able to turn the tide in its favor looks slim in Poland, say experts.

Published on 2013-11-10 02:16:21

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