clean energy nepal

Clean Energy News Vol. 12, Number 25, August 22, 2012

baner
Clean Energy News
Vol. 12, Number 25, August, 22, 2012
CE News is a weekly e-publications featuring news, information and events related to clean energy, clean air and climate change. CE News is published by Clean Energy Nepal. For more information about our campaigns visit www.cen.org.np
In this Issue
Public transport in Nepal: Double-O driver
Valley night bus service drawing oohs and ahs
Weak monsoon hits summer crops
Government commits to address adverse impact of climate change
Nepal to sign farm pact with five countries
Health impact of rising carbon levels said to be costing $6b a year
Temperature rise 'slows economy in poor countries'
Climate Change: Countries That May Be Hit Hardest
As Green Climate Fund Finally Meets, Funding Remains Uncertain
India signals it may be willing to consider emissions target at UN climate talks
Bangladesh to trial weather index-based crop insurance

Link Of The Week
Did You Know?
Media Watch
QUIZ Of The Week # 523
Answer Of Quiz Of The Week # 522
National News
Public transport in Nepal: Double-O driver

16 August 2012
The Economist

The young men who drive the microbuses in Nepal’s capital are reckless and inconsiderate, always either racing to overtake their rivals or driving as slowly as possible, so as to maximise the number of straggling passengers they might pick up. They typically pull into traffic suddenly, or else stop dead without warning. Such was an observation made by your correspondent to the country’s chief of traffic police a few weeks ago, during an interview about his clean-up of the department. In the Philippines, I mentioned, financial incentives have been used to employ more women as bus drivers; they tend to drive more nicely.
Deputy Inspector-General Ganesh Rai rolled his eyes. Such is the power of the transport cartels and drivers’ unions, he said, that bus drivers receive lower fines than ordinary users of the common road. If their licences are confiscated by any of his officers, they are allowed to send their union rep to retrieve it, rather than attending the station in person. And the licences themselves are never suspended.
“This is the main reason for their reckless driving,” said the nation’s top traffic cop. “There is a syndicate system, a cartel. The cartel is very powerful…it is very difficult to fight against them.”
High fares, poor services and an atrocious safety record are the result. In the past few weeks scores have died in bus wrecks on difficult mountain roads around the country. Drivers are said to joke that the driving licence is a “licence to kill”.

Last week the transport industry went on strike, throwing millions of daily routines out of joint. They were demanding that the government concede to 15 demands. The authorities had been willing to meet 14 of them.
The sticking point was the transporters’ demand that the traffic police be stripped of their power to issue traffic fines altogether. (The fines currently range from $2 to $11.) They also oppose the “encouragement allowance” paid to officers, worth 15% of fines collected, which has contributed to the vigour of the department under Mr Rai’s leadership and improved enforcement of the rules. The government agreed to form a joint committee with the industry to examine this demand too, the 15th as it were—after the transporters threatened to block all the traffic in the city.

The transport cartels erect high barriers to entry (the right to ply a city route reportedly costs as much as a new minibus) and they enjoy the support of powerful politicians. “These are among the biggest donors to political parties and they send the most people to rallies and strikes,” says Chandan Sapkota of Sawtee, an economics think-tank. Sometimes politicians are directly involved: one bus company belongs to Sujata Koirala, a recent deputy prime minister from the Nepali Congress Party.
But what ails the transport sector is also the case in every other lucrative industry. Every political party is involved. The country has been run in the same manner through periods of royal autocracy and multi-party democracy alike.

A recent study found that there are 24 truckers’ syndicates controlling road freight. All trucking through Birgunj, the country’s principal customs point, is said to be controlled by one man, with strong connections to another political party, the UML (Unified Marxist-Leninists). The price of bringing a container from Birgunj to Kathmandu is around three times the rate set by the government. The study concludes that truckers’ syndicates cost the economy as a whole up to $65m a year.

Vegetable prices at Kathmandu’s wholesale market have also been in the news. The market is controlled by a cartel of wholesalers and by the youth wing of the Maoist party, known as the Young Communist League. They act as both monopsonists and monopolists, buying cheaply from farmers and driving up retail prices, thus contributing to low rural incomes and to high food-price inflation.

Similar practices dominate the meat and poultry markets, construction, and government procurement and contracting, to name a few, as well as the labour-export industry, known in Nepal as “manpower”. Over 20% of the country’s GDP is contributed by migrant labourers abroad, many of whom are exposed to danger and exploitation by powerful and corrupt manpower agencies.

With a political economy that has worked this way for years, Nepal’s ongoing obsession with the varieties of political ideology and its endless debate over the latest constitutional crises may seem to miss the point. So might millions of dollars of foreign development aid which, despite decades of trying, have failed to deliver “good governance” or economic development. Standing in the way of course, are the very many people in Nepal who like to see things running just as they are.
“Cartelling is very rampant, in every sector,” says Bishnu Bahadur KC, president of the Nepali chapter of Transparency International and a former auditor-general. “Politicians are encouraging all such hanky-panky.”


Valley night bus service drawing oohs and ahs
August 22, 2012
The Kathmandu Post

The general public have started singing the praises of the night bus service that came into operation in Kathmandu and Lalitpur from August 17 and say they are feeling an incredible sense of relief.
By providing cheap fares, security, convenience and timely services, which are rare to find while travelling by day-time public buses, night buses are doing office-goers, daily wagers and commoners proud.
Those working at odd hours in particular are wreathing in smiles to avail themselves of this new-found opportunity. “Trave-lling by a night bus is a wonderful experience. It’s a huge relief for people like me who can’t afford taxis at night as their charges double after 8 pm,” said Suresh Karki, a hotel worker at Sinamangal.
The perennial problem that Karki faced earlier was finding a vehicle to go home at Bhimsensthan. “Now I go home comfortably and safely.”
Bus operators, however, say the night buses have not attracted many passengers as expected. Bagmati Coordinator of National Federation of Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs (NFNTE), Dharma Rijal, said the number of passengers is still not thick owing to lack of publicity.
“All are happy with this new initiation but many people do not still know about the night bus service. I hope the number will increase once they know that the city has night bus service,” said Rijal.
Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, chief of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), argues that the number is low because other private vehicles have also extended service time after night buses came into service in the city for the first time. “While travelling through various routes, I saw many micro buses plying till late night. We should be satisfied with the present number. It will increase gradually,” said Adhikari.
He does not see private buses as a threat and instead thinks that more people would benefit if the private sector too operates night buses.
Currently, 14 night buses are plying on six routes. Four buses operate on the Ring Road, while the remaining ply on five other routes. Two buses run from Satdobato-Lagankhel-Ratnapark, Koteshwor-Sinamangal-Jorpati, Kalanki-Ratnapark, Jorpati-Ratnapark and Bansbari-Ratnapark. One bus caters to night-time travellers on Koteshwor-Kalanki route daily.
Officials said routes and plying time can be extended if the first three months go well. Any change will be based on the data collected from the CCTVs installed inside the buses. “Based on the number of passengers, we will reshuffle the existing routes, add the number of bus stops, fix light in the bus stops and publicise the time schedule of the buses plying on each routes” said Adhikari.
In order to assure passengers of their safety, two armed police personnel are on duty inside each bus. The night bus service is a joint initiative of the KMC and the NFNTE


Weak monsoon hits summer crops
By Sangam Prasain
August 21, 2012
The Kathmandu Post 
Poor monsoon and a shortage of chemical fertilisers this season may result in a 10-15 percent drop in paddy and maize output, raising the risk of a food crisis and price hikes.
Based on preliminary estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture Development (MoAD), rice and corn production is expected to drop by around 1 million tonnes this season, against the output recorded in the corresponding period last year.
Economists said the reduced output would slow down the country’s economic growth by 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent in the next fiscal year. The government has targeted a growth rate of 5.5 percent in the fiscal 2012-13. 
“The scenario shows that the country’s paddy and maize output could fall 10-15 percent year on year,” said Tek Prasad Luitel, senior agro-economist at the MoAD. Luitel, however, said a possible food shortage would not reach an alarming level due to the current food reserves. The country produced 5.07 million tonnes of rice and 2.17 million tonnes of maize of the total of 9.45 million tonnes of food grain last fiscal (2011-12), resulting in a record food surplus of 886,307 tonnes. 
Taking into account the current food reserve and the ministry estimates, the country is likely to face a food deficit of around 200,000 tonnes. “The drought represents another distress for consumers and the country’s economy, which counts on consumer spending for more than two-thirds of its activity,” said senior economist Bishwamber Pyakurel. 
The drought’s impact has also been observed in India where rice is one of the staple foods. India, which is the second largest rice grower after China, banned export of non-basmati varieties for three years after the shock of the 2008 world food crisis. 
“Inadequate production here and pressure in neighbouring countries means higher prices for everybody. Most consumers are unlikely to get food at fair prices,” Pyakurel said. According to him, unavailability of chemical fertilisers during the peak paddy planting season and dressing period of maize in addition to a weak monsoon has hit production. 
Nepal has the lowest agriculture productivity in the South Asian region. Fertilisers contribute 40 percent to stimulating production. This monsoon, paddy transplantation could not be done on 10 percent of the target area of 1.52 million hectares, while two-thirds of the country suffered a drought-like situation. 
According to the Meteorological Forecasting Division, the country received 163.7 mm of rainfall in June, which was 39 percent below average. In July, rainfall was recorded at 383.6 mm, which is 13 percent below average and only 7 percent above a drought situation. The country has remained almost dry so far.

Government commits to address adverse impact of climate change
August 16 2012
UNDP Nepal 
The Government of Nepal, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) jointly launched the “Ecosystem based Adaptation in mountain ecosystem in Nepal (EbA)” Project today. The project aims at implementing an emerging approach to help people to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.
The project document was jointly signed by Mr. Harihar Sigdel, Joint Secretary and Chief of Planning and Human Resources Development Division, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) on behalf of the Government of Nepal and Ms. Shoko Noda, Country Director, UNDP Nepal on behalf of the EbA partners UNDP, UNEP and IUCN for 3 years starting from August 2012. The Secretary of MoFSC, Dr. Krishna Chandra Paudel was also present in the signing ceremony. 
Speaking at the occasion, Joint Secretary at MoFSC, Mr. Ram Prasad Lamsal expressed that the ministry is willing to join hands with UNDP, UNEP and IUCN for future endeavors as well. 
The USD 3.3 million project, funded by the Government of Germany, will be piloted in the Panchase area of Nepal which spans across the Kaski, Parbat and Syanja districts in the western part of Nepal. The project will strengthen ecosystem resilience and reduce the vulnerabilities of mountain ecosystems and their communities to the impacts of climate change. 
Speaking about the unique opportunity that this project will provide to Nepal, Country Representative of IUCN Nepal, Dr. Yam Malla said, “Lessons learned and outputs of the project should be shared widely, not only at the community and national level, but also internationally.” 
Addressing the ceremony, UNDP Country Director Ms. Shoko Noda said, “Environment and energy, and climate change is a very important area of UNDP’s work.” She expressed UNDP’s commitment for continued support for the effective and successful implementation of the project. “I am confident that the project outcomes will be valuable for future climate adaptation initiatives of the country, and will also contribute to national policies and strategies,” she added. 
Dr. Krishna Chandra Paudel, Secretary at MoFSC highlighted the significance of the project in the current context as the recent Rio+20 Conference has laid significant emphasis on adaptation. He also stressed that cooperation at local as well as regional and national levels is important for the successful implementation of the project. “From this project, we can achieve not just the anticipated results but even more if our partnership and collaboration is strong”, he said. He further emphasized to carry out baseline study of the project site so that the achievements made by the project interventions can be measured. 
The project is possibly the first project focused on Ecosystem Based Adaptation in mountain region, therefore, it provides unique opportunities for experimental learning between regions and among countries with similar landscapes. In addition to Nepal, similar initiatives are being implemented in Peru and Uganda.

 
Nepal to sign farm pact with five countries
August 21, 2012
Review Nepal 
The government has been preparing to sign in new agreements with Turkey and Brazil and renew its existing agreements with India, China and Israel with intent to enhance supply capacity of agricultural product by commercializing the sector.
The Ministry of Agriculture Development has stated that it has been preparing documents to sign in new and renew in the agreements. The to be signed agreement with Turkey is intended to exchange cooperation in agriculture research, soil and water management as well as enhance Nepal’s farm technology.
It is said that Turkey had proposed to support Nepal in agriculture research and farm commercialization as well as measures to cope with impact of climate change and strengthen food security in Nepal.

Likewise, the to be signed agreement with Brazil is intended to support for the commercialization of coffee and replicating Zero Hunger Agriculture Policy applied in Brazil. With the renewing existing agriculture agreements with India, China and Israel, the government has expected to achieve technical and commercial advancement in agriculture sector.

It is said that Nepal is also preparing to request China to sell chemical fertilizers to ensure smooth supply to cope the higher demand during the crisis period.
International News
Health impact of rising carbon levels said to be costing $6b a year

By Mark Metherell
August 14, 2012
FOSSIL fuel use generates death and disease costing Australia $6 billion a year, yet the health benefits of cutting carbon dioxide emissions have been overlooked, a report by climate groups says.
The Climate and Health Alliance and the Climate Institute have compiled recent evidence about the impact on health of rising carbon dioxide levels.

The report says there are substantial and immediate economic and health benefits available from taking action on climate change.
''Many of the biggest health challenges today, and the greatest drains on the public purse, are preventable chronic diseases associated with carbon-intensive lifestyles,'' says the report released today.

Coal-fired power triggered lung, heart and nervous system diseases estimated to cost Australia $2.6 billion a year, while the annual health costs of pollution from oil-fuelled vehicles were put at $3.3 billion a year.
Switching from vehicle transport to cycling or walking to work would reduce obesity, which would significantly reduce risk of heart disease, breast cancer and mental illness.

Reductions in consumption of meat from cattle and sheep, which were big contributors of greenhouse gas in Australia, would not only reduce pollution but also reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer.
The report says: ''In Australia, air pollution is estimated to kill more people every year than the road toll.''
Many strategies such as reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lower consumption of animal foods offered immediate and localised health benefits.
''Many people see climate change as something in the distant future and not an immediate threat,'' the report said.

Showing the tangible and immediate benefits possible from cutting emissions could help build public support for climate action.

The convener of the Climate and Health Alliance, Fiona Armstrong, says the health dividend resulting from reduced greenhouse gases would more than offset the cost of implementing the carbon tax.
The benefits of reducing air pollution produced health benefits valued at $50 a tonne of carbon dioxide - double the price that the government had put on carbon in Australia.

''Those gains would be much higher if you take action now,'' Ms Armstrong said. 
What was needed was for better information to be made available on the health implications for the public to recognise the direct human benefits of lower greenhouse gases, she said.


Temperature rise 'slows economy in poor countries'
Higher temperatures associated with climate change can slow down the economy and lead to political instability in poor countries, says a US study. Small increases in temperature may have reduced the industrial and agricultural production of poor countries, according to a study by US economists.

"Temperature fluctuations can have large negative impacts on poor countries," said Benjamin Olken, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and one of the authors of the study.
"If fluctuations affect the growth rate each year, over time that adds to a really big impact."
The authors compared annual temperature and precipitation changes from 1950 to 2003 with aggregate economic output data. Based on the data, the researchers estimated that a one degree Celsius rise in temperature in a given year had reduced economic growth by about 1.3 percentage points on average.
By correlating the temperature and precipitation data with regular changes of government, such as elections, and irregular changes, such as coups, the researchers found that higher temperatures are also associated with political instability in poor countries.

The impact of temperature on political instability may be "one mechanism through which temperature might affect productivity growth", according to the paper. But further work is needed to determine why both a country's economy and its political stability are affected by temperature, the authors said.
The findings could be used to tweak the traditional climate change models, allowing them to better distinguish the effects of climate from other factors influencing economies, the paper said.
"There is a huge amount of literature looking at the [impact of temperature] fluctuations," said Melissa Dell, one of the authors of the paper. "We're more able [than before] to convincingly isolate the temperature and not just something that's correlated with it."

Previous findings published in American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings in 2010 also found that a one degree Celsius warming in a poor country had reduced the growth of all exports by between two and 5.7 percentage points.

Rich countries had not experienced such slowdowns that could be correlated with temperature increases, although the decline in imports from poor countries might have led to consumers in rich countries paying higher prices for commodities, the researchers speculated.
"It has generally been a reasonable assumption that poor countries are disproportionately affected by climate change, which is what the study showed," said Saleemul Huq, a senior fellow in the climate change group at the International Institute for Environment and Development, in United Kingdom. Huq said there was now a need to analyse the impact that severe temperature fluctuations in major food-producing countries may have on developing countries. For example, high temperatures in the United States have resulted in sharp price increases in corn around the world this year.
"I would like to see more about how changes in temperature in one part of the world have repercussions in another part of the world," said Huq. "Climate change in one part of the world can have a tremendous impact in another, that we are not yet aware of."


Climate Change: Countries That May Be Hit Hardest

By Jeremy Hsu
14 August, 2012
Huffington Post

Rising seas threaten to drown island countries such as the Maldives and Kiribati in the era of global warming — a dire scenario that has forced leaders to plan for floating cities or consider moving their entire populations to neighboring countries. Most countries won't need to take such drastic steps to simply survive, but many more will similarly experience the uglier side of climate change.

The countries potentially facing the worst fates may not necessarily experience the greatest climate change, but instead lack the resources to cushion their people against climate-related disasters such as hurricanes, floods, heat waves and droughts. That has historically made a huge difference in rates of death or displacement from such events — Hurricane Jeanne killed just three people in the U.S. in 2004, but resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 people in Haiti and displaced about 200,000 Haitians.
"This of course is different than future likelihood to suffer, but I believe that those who suffered most in the past are probably most vulnerable to future disasters, because they are unable to prepare for, cope with, and recover from these kinds of disasters," said J. Timmons Roberts, a professor of environmental studies and sociology at Brown University.

The most fortunate countries could fortify themselves against the worst of climate change and possibly take in climate change refugees from other parts of the world. Both historical data and climate model predictions have given some idea of what to expect.

Climate change hotspots:

North America, Europe and Asia can generally expect more severe heat waves and droughts alongside more intense storms related to flooding, said Michael Wehner, a climate scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. On the other hand, cold snaps could become less severe.
Other regions could see even more radical changes in their normal climates.

"Central America, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean are projected to experience what is now considered drought as a new normal condition," Wehner told InnovationNewsDaily. "The impacts on agriculture could be severe, especially on impoverished nations."

The melting Arctic is experiencing some of the greatest warming — often with devastating consequences for local wildlife and people — but climate change's greatest impact may take place in more densely populated regions. Jason Samson, a former Ph.D. candidate at McGill University in Canada, highlighted the relationship between climate conditions and population density in a 2011 paper published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography. [Sink or Swim: 6 Ways to Adapt to Climate Change]
"Strongly negative impacts of climate change are predicted in Central America, central South America, the Arabian Peninsula, Southeast Asia and much of Africa," wrote Samson and his colleagues.

That paper's findings echo the vulnerable regions identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — the Arctic, Africa, small islands (such as the Maldives and Kiribati), and the Asian and African megadeltas where huge cities filled with millions of people face rising seas, storm surges and flooding rivers.
Countries in the danger zone:

So what countries face the greatest danger from climate change? Maplecroft, a British consultancy, has created a "Climate Change and Environment Risk Atlas," a list of 193 countries ranked by those most vulnerable to climate change because of factors such as population density or state of development.
The 2012 edition of the risk atlas identified 30 countries as being at extreme risk. The top 10 most at risk include: Haiti, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Cambodia, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and the Philippines.

Some countries with lower risk ratings still have danger zones that face "extreme risk" from climate change. Maplecroft pointed to the southwest of Brazil and China's coastal regions as examples, even though both countries rate as "medium risk" overall. Six of the world's fastest-growing cities also received "extreme risk" ratings: Calcutta in India, Manila in the Philippines, Jakarta in Indonesia, Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh, and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
The countries in the best position to adapt to climate change's challenges mostly include those in Northern Europe, such as Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Norway, CNN reported. Iceland topped the list, but the United States also had a relatively low risk rating.

Living with climate change:

The climate risk assessments emphasized the wealth difference between the most and least vulnerable countries. That has proven historically true as well, Roberts said. He and a colleague, Bradley Parks, looked at 4,040 climate-related disasters from 1980 to 2003 in their book "A Climate of Injustice" (MIT Press, 2006).
"The rates [of people killed or made homeless], when adjusted for population, were 100 times higher in some African and Pacific islands than in the USA," Roberts explained.
But even developed countries such as the U.S. face risks when it comes to climate-related disasters — regardless of whatever future climate change may bring. Wehner suggested that climate change during his lifetime would be "manageable" as far as living in the U.S., but added that his grandchildren would face tougher choices.

Roberts, who lives in Rhode Island on top of a hill near Narragansett Bay, took an even more cautious approach about buying beachfront property even in the U.S.
"While I would love to look out over the water, I would think twice before buying land or property, and especially before putting my family right at sea level, in a place that may suffer storm surge," Roberts said.


As Green Climate Fund Finally Meets, Funding Remains Uncertain

By Carey L. Biron
August 21, 2012
IPS News

Five months behind schedule, the board of the newest and largest international financing mechanism aimed at dealing with the effects of climate change, the Green Climate Fund, is finally slated to meet this week, just ahead of a late-summer deadline.

On Monday, however, insiders admitted that funding plans for the ambitious initiative – 100 billion dollars a year after 2020, in addition to dealing with a massive shortfall until then – remain unclear.
“We are expecting no serious discussion about the 100 billion dollars at this meeting,” Omar El-Arini, an Egyptian member of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board, told journalists Monday, speaking from Geneva.
“We have had very little time to discuss the architecture of funding.”

Given that the board’s responsibility lies in figuring out how to disburse, not raise, the eventual cash, El-Arini said that the upcoming meet, scheduled for August 23-25 in Geneva, would most likely focus on procedural issues. These would include rules for board meetings, the budget for a secretariat and a host country in which to house it.

When the GCF was proposed, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2009, its aim was to steer money towards the world’s poorest countries to deal with the effects and causes of climate change. At the time, developing countries were asking for 400 billion dollars per year, but eventually settled on a quarter of that.

Still, such a pot of money would dwarf current such efforts. A 2010 report by the United Nations suggested that raising the money would be difficult but doable.
Meanwhile, in the current environment of fiscal austerity, particularly in the United States and the European Union, coupled with a general international erosion in political support for climate-related projects, the question of where the GCF will get enough money to make its mandate realistic remains a pressing one.
Washington has already expressed dissatisfaction over the idea of financing so-called “middle income” countries, such as India and Brazil.

Representation and equity
One issue expected to be decided upon this week – that of the GCF’s host country – could serve as motivation for figuring out the longer-term financing options. Six countries are currently in contention – Germany, Mexico, Namibia, Poland, South Korea and Switzerland – and analysts suggest that the winner would be expected to make the first substantial contribution.
With the GCF made up of just 24 full members (as well as 24 alternates) from across the globe, overarching conversations about representation and equity have reportedly been to blame for the three delays since the board’s scheduled first meeting.
“It is quite unfortunate that we ended up with equal representation for developed and developing countries, meaning that there is place for just 12 developing countries,” Meena Raman, of the Third World Network, an umbrella of international NGOs, said Monday from Geneva, noting that the decision over the host country will be one of the most important facets of this week’s talks.
“If you talk about equitable representation, there should have been more seats for developing countries.”
Indeed, increasing recrimination between developing and developed countries have been considered central to the failure of the UNFCCC process to yield substantive agreement in recent years, a pattern that many involved are eager to avoid early on in the creation of the GCF.
The GCF is now said to be under massive pressure to sort out its ideological issues and financing framework before November, when the next international climate summit is set to begin in Qatar.

Public and private roles