Climate Change and Local Communities in the Nepal Himalaya Siddhartha Bajra Bajracharya, PhD. National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) 4 August 2011
Global warming and climate change• Climate change is now widely recognized as the major environmental problem facing the globe.• UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls “the defining challenge of our age”.• Evidence is building that impacts are being felt in the form of melting Himalayas and increased variability of temperature, rainfall and storms in virtually all regions.• The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) clearly states that it is no longer relevant to discuss whether the climate is changing but rather how much change we are committed to and how fast this will occur.
Global warming and climate change• Climatic changes — such as• shrinking glaciers,• variations in rainfall frequency and intensity, and• shifts in growing seasons and disease distributions —are expected to have substantial, and largely negative, effects on food production, water supply and disease proliferation in many parts of the world.
Global Warming• Increase in the earths temperature refers to global warming, which in turn causes changes in climate.• Earths average temperature has risen about 1 degree C in the past 100 years and is projected to rise another 3 to 10 degrees C in the next 100 years.
Global Warming• The most important of these being the emission of green house gases and the cleaning of natural vegetation.• The climate is largely controlled by the flows of heat entering and leaving the planet and the storage of heat in the various compartments of the earth systems- ocean, land, atmosphere, snow/ice
Climate change : A natural processClimate change is a natural process but excessive release of GHGsmainly CO2 has accelerated the change leading to ecologicaluncertainties. Average per capita emissions in India are in the order of 1.0t CO2 per capita per year (2005), while they are in the order of 10 t CO2per capita per year in Germany and 20 t CO2/year in the USA.
Causes of Global Warming• The global warming is caused primarily by carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and gas.• The second is methane (released from rice paddies, both ends of livestock, rotting garbage in landfills, mining operations, and gas pipelines).
Causes of Global Warming• Third are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) released from refrigerator, air conditioner etc.• Fourth is nitrous oxide (from fertilizers and other chemicals).
Two important reports• The Stern Review 2006• The 4th Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007• Both reports presented more and stronger evidence for the impacts of climate change on natural systems as well as on human activities in many parts of the world.
Consequences of Climate Change• Receding snowlines• Hazy winter• Flash floods• Hotter summer months• Frequent landslides• Lake bursts (Glacier lake outburst flood)• Impacts are predicted to be especially large for poor countries.
Mountain countries such as Nepal are the most vulnerable to climate change.Nepal is getting warmer at the rate of 0.06 degreeCelsius per year i.e. 60 C in 100 years (GON-MOEST, 2003) – High mountains warming faster (0.080 per year) than lower hills and plains (0.040per year)
Nepal is warming faster!• Nepal is getting warmer at the rate of 0.06 degree Celsius per year i.e. 60 C in 100 years (GON-MOEST, 2003)• Variability in mean temperatures is non-uniform both temporally and spatially.• Examples – High mountains warming faster (0.080 per year) than lower hills and plains (0.040per year) - 1990s and 2000s are globally warmer than previous decades
Himalayan Mountain System• Mountain areas are: • Inaccessible • Fragile • Diverse • Marginalised and • Comparative advantage
Climate Change• Uncertainties in weather pattern• Erratic monsoon rains (departure from normal pattern), examples – Higher maximum temperatures and more hot days – More intense precipitation events – Changes in the timing of monsoon onset and withdrawal – Higher minimum temperatures and fewer cold days and frost – Reduced diurnal temperature range – Number of rainy days decreasing and intense precipitation events are increasing
Impacts - Rural Communities• People living in mountain ecosystem are particularly vulnerable to climate change as a result of: – Their high dependence on natural resources for their livelihood – Comparatively higher exposure to extreme events – Widespread poverty and – Marginalisation
Impacts - Rural Communities• Less winter snowfall events and snow deposits• Post-winter colder than usual due to snow or hailstorm with strong wind• Glaciers are receding faster in recent years• Potential to increase water related stress on rural communities Braga: cirque glacier with debris
Impacts - Rural Communities• Exposure to extreme events eg. from Manang• Frequent snow avalanches leading to loss of lives and livestock• Damage to infrastructures and livelihoods downstream,• Landslide dam bursts
Impacts - Rural Communities• Locals of high mountains complain of unusual rains causing collapse of their traditional houses made out of mud.• Corrugated iron sheets are used to replace or repair traditional flat roofs.
Low snow fall Disturbance in alpine system Lessavailability of alpine grasses High Incidence of livestock diseases and Chances of higher depredation by snow leopard Reducing the herd size or shifting the pasture.
A case study• Climate change is a global phenomenon.• Have clear implications on planning and management of PAs.• ‘No action’ ‘Ke garne’ is no more an option.• Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal• Working with the local communities Think Globally Act Locally
Annapurna Conservation Area• Largest protected area• High biological and cultural diversities• Community-based management• A major tourist destination• ICDP approach – Successful integration of conservation and development issues
Sustainable DevelopmentEnvironment Socio-culture Development Economy
Energy source• Fuelwood was the principal source of energy for domestic and tourism sectors.• Consequences: – Deterioration in the quality and quantity of forests. – Deforestations – Soil degradation – Erosion – Flooding – Increased CO2 emission – Decreased CO2 sink
1. People have faced climate change and adapted to it since our species evolved.2. Nevertheless, people have never adapted to climate change on the scale that we now face.3. Existing coping strategies are not always adequate to respond to climate change.
1. Coping strategies need to be designed in the context of sustainable development.2. Need to disseminate knowledge what we already know.3. Develop capacity to cope with increased climate variability.4. Communicating and raising community awareness
Why this event?• The Himalayas are shadowed in terms of the global climate debate.• There is no unified voice of ‘Mountain States’.• Hazard of ‘Melting of Himalayas’ will be far & wide.• If we do not raise voice , who will?
Cabinet Meeting at Kalapatthar, Everest Base Camp (December 2009))
A Historic EventPlaced Nepal once again in the Global Picture 77,208 in 0.28 sec in Google search