Clean Energy News Vol. 12, Number 23, August 8, 2012
|Clean Energy News
Vol. 12, Number 23, August 8, 2012
|CE News is a free weekly e-mail publications that features news, information and events related to clean energy, clean air and climate change. CE News is published by Clean Energy Nepal. For more information on our campaign please visit www.cen.org.np|
|• Nepal Wants Service Charge On LDC Funding Reduced
• Droughts Bring Climate Change Home To Nepali Farmers
• Kathmandu Roads A Nuisance In Rainy Season
• Vehicles Registration Drops
• Spread Of Lead Acid Batteries Sparks Health Risk Concerns
• Lashing Rains Throw Life Out Of Gear In West
• First U.N. Climate Fund Board Meeting Set For August 23
• Carbon Monoxide's Damaging Role In Heart Rhythm Found
• Ocean Acidification Could Disrupt Marine Food Chains
• Climate Change Puts Moves On Coffee Growers
• Link Of The Week
• Did You Know?
• Media Watch
• QUIZ Of The Week # 521
• Answer Of Quiz Of The Week # 520
Nepal Wants Service Charge On LDC Funding Reduced
By Ramesh Prasad Bhushal
Submitting its position to the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Least Developed Countries Fund, the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology has asked for a reduction of the service charge that development agencies are deducting from the poor countries´ fund and has also sought faster and easier access to such funds.
Global Environment Facility (GEF) is the operating agency for the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and it provides the money to various institutions to work and coordinate with LDC governments. Currently UNDP and UNEP are the major implementing agencies but the LDCs have been reiterating that they should have direct access to GEF rather than have the money channelled through other agencies. The implementing agencies take 10 percent as service charge from the money allocated by developed nations to LDCs. This is something that countries like Nepal have been expressing dissatisfaction over at global climate negotiations.
Likewise, noting the complexities of accessing funds, Nepal has asked for a provision that is easier and more direct to speed up work on climate change at national and local levels. Nepal has said that it has been facing many problems accessing LDC funds during the implementation of the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA). The country has experienced several problems in accessing fund and these needed to be addressed.
Nepal has already prepared NAPA and is urging international support for its execution. The NAPA document endorsed by the government in 2010 says that Nepal needs $350 million to execute adaptation projects in the country initially. However, it has not yet received adequate funds. A document submitted two days ago mentions that climate change has adversely affected the country´s ecosystems, particularly the fragile mountains and glaciers and this has placed an immense burden on the people, their livelihoods and the development process.
“Nepal emphasizes the need for adequate funding, in addition to the Official Development Assistance (ODA), to implement the actions identified by NAPA. We further register our concern to speed up the NAPA process,” says the document submitted by the ministry.
Droughts Bring Climate Change Home To Nepali Farmers
By Naresh Newar
Farmers in this fertile central district of south Nepal are convinced that an intense drought between May and early July that destroyed their maize crops is the result of climate change.
“Last year my farms produced over 20 quintals of maize, but this time I could barely harvest one quintal,” 60-year-old farmer Padmakanta Poudel told IPS in the remote Jutpani village of the district. Poudel explained that his family had taken bank a loan of over 500 dollars to invest on his maize farm. The money was spent on hiring a tractor to till the farm, the labour to sow the seeds as well as inputs such as fertilizers. For a poor farmer in Nepal a 500-dollar loan is substantial and repayable only at harvest time. “We lost all our money and will have to pay back our debts. I pray that my rice crops will not also be destroyed,” Poudel said.
Padma Puri’s situation is worse. “I am only a tenant farmer, but I have to repay everything after this disaster,” says this 58-year-old female farmer who could barely produce 20 kg of maize this year and is faced with mounting debts. Farmers speaking with IPS in Chitwan said that they now realise that this is the climate change they have been hearing about over radio and television. “I had heard about climate change (Jal Wayu Paribartan in the Nepali language) but I didn’t know we would be affected by it so badly,” says Ram Chandra Chepang from the village of Shaktikhor. Chepang’s farms produced barely 50 kg of maize compared to three quintals last year, enabling him to buy enough food to last six months. Now he is desperately looking for a job as daily wage labourer to repay money borrowed for farm inputs from a local moneylender.
Nepal has a history of droughts but the intensity increased this year, say government experts. They, however, are yet to make scientific measurements of the intensity. Evidence of climate change in Nepal is seen in temperatures rising by about one-tenth of a degree annually, receding glaciers and snow line and volatile monsoonal rains. While scientists are still trying to link these changes to factors such as production of greenhouse gases and deforestation, Nepal’s farmers are coping on their own with dwindling water supply, flash floods and landslides. Chitwan, a major producer of maize, has suffered a 70 percent loss of the crop due to late arrival of the monsoons this year, according to assessments by the government’s Agricultural Services Office (ASO) at Ratna, 300 km west of national capital Kathmandu. The ‘Crop Situation Report’ for July 2012, produced jointly by the ministry of agriculture, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and World Food Programme had warned that the delay in monsoon, combined with insufficient pre-monsoon rainfall, would adversely affect maize and summer vegetables.
According to the joint report, the hill and mountain belts, where rain-fed agriculture is predominant, would be hit worst. While the monsoon revived somewhat late July, it is too late to save the maize crops. “The situation was worrisome when we visited the rain-fed areas in the Terai (fertile southern plains) and we saw that the maize had been completely destroyed. This was a surprisingly intensive drought,” said Navaraj Pradhan, ecosystem adaptation analyst from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu. ICIMOD is currently conducting a study on climate change impacts on food security in the entire Indo Gangetic plains. This region includes thickly populated areas like India’s Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Nepal’s Terai and Bangladesh’s basin area. There can be two droughts in a year without causing too much damage, but when there is drought intensity that can destroy maize, even in irrigated areas, according to ICIMOD experts.
With such unpredictability of weather patterns growing in the country, there is need now for planned adaptation. “Until now most farmers have been using autonomous adaptation and that is not sustainable when drought intensity is growing,” Jit Narayan Sah, technical officer and researcher from the Nepal Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), told IPS. Sah explained that autonomous adaptation in Nepal are short term solutions like channeling waters from nearby rivers, using composting, using green manure and indigenous methods to control pests.
Experts believe that planned adaptation must include comprehensive research that leads to action with agricultural policy reforms and integrate that in the farming system by working closely with the farmers. While there is growing awareness among farmers on the effects of climate change, their coping strategy is weak. The expert said there was a need to build awareness among farmers on “extreme-events”. Telling them the causes is not enough but they need to be given options and guidance along with an increase infrastructure such as irrigation. For now, farmers are trying to make do with grossly inadequate tube wells. Climate change adaptation may take a long time to implement in Nepal given that the country is still struggling to complete a peace process since 2006 when a decade of armed civil strife ended in the country.
Kathmandu Roads A Nuisance In Rainy Season
By Elisha Shrestha
Rain can be fun but not in the streets of Kathmandu dotted with unsuspecting potholes everywhere.
"Walking in the streets of Kathmandu during the rainy season can rather be an ordeal," said Ashmita Rijal, a student of Kathmandu University. The demolition drive launched by the government has made things worse. "Every morning I walk to office I dread vehicles getting me splashed with dirty water collected in the potholes," said Rijal. She says she despises walking the treacherous pavements.
However, driving in Kathmandu is not pleasant, either. "Last Friday, I nearly had a fatal accident at Babarmahal because of the potholes," shares Ram Hari Sharma, a local. Chief of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) Kedar Bahadur Adhikari passes the buck on the Department of Roads. "Maintenance of roads does not fall in our jurisdiction. It is the DoR that is responsible for the maintenance of roads," says Adhikari. But Senior Divisional Engineer at DOR Gopal Bahadur Khadka argues KMC has to look after the maintenance of inner city roads.
"The Department of Roads is responsible for maintaining major roads like Ring road, Durbar Marga, Lazimpat-Maharajgunj stretch and Ram Shah Path," Khadka said. He says there is no permanent solution to potholes in the capital. “We don´t have any option other than filling the potholes," says Khadka. The major roads of Kathmandu city were last repaired in 2007, according to DoR. Apart from carrying out minor repairs, the roads have not undergone significant maintenance for the last five year.
Vehicles Registration Drops
Registration of new vehicles across the country dropped by 19 percent in fiscal year 2011/12, thanks to tightening of auto loans by banks and financial institutions.
Automobile dealers also attributed the drop in registration to rise in excise duty and high interest rate, which hovers between 12-17.5 percent, on auto loans. Data compiled by the Department of Transport Management (DoTM) shows a total of 163,640 vehicles were registered across the country during 2011/12, down from 217,087 registered during 2010/11.
Saurav Jyoti, president of Nepal Automobile Dealers´ Association (NADA), said new registration of vehicles dropped due to rise in excise duty and high bank rates. “Price of four-wheeler has increased in the range of Rs 30,000 to Rs 400,000 over the year,” Jyoti said. Registration of two-wheelers during the review period, dropped by 2.5 percent to 168,907, according to the department.
Spread Of Lead Acid Batteries Sparks Health Risk Concerns
By Ramesh Prasad Bhushal
With the increasing use of lead acid batteries in the country and lack of facilities to recycle hazardous wates, there are growing concerns over potential health risks associated with handling lead.
There are also serious concerns about unregularlized movement of lead from Nepal to India in violation of the country´s international treaty. Nepal is party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. But huge amount of lead is taken to India every year with both Nepali and Indian governments turning a blind eye to the growing trade. "Tons of batteries that become useless should have been piled up in storage facilities but there are no such storage in the country because local traders collect it and send it to India as lead can be fully recycled and reused," said Jiangji Kharel, Researcher on lead acid batteries. Lead is used in vehicles and solar energy systems batteries to restore the charge. A recent study estimated the country´s lead acid battery comsumption could be as high as 75,000 tons per year by 2018 of which about 3,000 tons would be scrap batteries with significant amount of lead that needs to be recycled.
“As a signatory of Basel Convention we should do something about it and not remain silent on the issue,” said Meena Khanal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology. She added that the ministry has already prepared regulation draft and sent it to the ministry of Law and Justice. It´s a serious issue and the ministry will come up with the mangement plan soon,” she added. At present more than 5,000 tons of battery are in use, half of which will become useless within this year. “As lead is poisonous, costly to manage and hazadous to human health, Nepal has not bothered when transported to India whereas India doesn´t care about it because it has not ratified Basel Convention and is also a source of income for enterprenuers,” said Ram Charitra Sah, an expert on persistent pollutants and executive director, Center for Public Health and Environmental Development.
The more serious issue of that the uses of lead is not just limited to batteries, and are also found in cosmetics, paints and other various daily propose utilities. Researchers on lead acid batteries say people handling lead without any precaution puts them in huge health risk. “People take it as a general metal and are unaware about its health hazards," said Madhusudhan Adhikari, expert on lead acid batteries at Alternative Energy Promotion Center under MoEST. “The use of battery is rapidly increasing and its management has not been taken seriously, in few years there could be huge problem of its management if we don´t prepare from now,” added Adhikari.
The Alternative Energy Promotion Center(AEPC) said that it has already started process to establish a first lead recycling plant in the country which cost about Rs 180 million. “Our research shows that one recycle plant is economically viable in Nepal as we have adequate amount of scrap needed to recycle so are in process to establish it,” said Dr Govinda Raj Pokharel , Executive Director, AEPC. He added that AEPC will support interested private companies and will soon call for expression of interest. “It´s economically viable so we will support to maintain its environmental aspect and any company interested can install the plant to recycle lead,” added Adhikari.
Lead is known to interfere with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems. It interferes with the development of the nervous system and is therefore particularly toxic to children, causing potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders and in severe cases ca lead to seizures, coma and death.
Lashing Rains Throw Life Out Of Gear In West
Continuous rain since the past two days triggered multiple landslips along the Surkhet-Jumla road of the Karnali Highway, obstructing vehicular movement.
Many vehicles carrying passengers and goods have been stranded as the 237-km road has been blocked by landslides in at least 19 places. Raju Karki of the Mid Western Bus Entrepreneurs’ Association said Suwachheda, Siyala and Kitubhir in Dailekh district, and Hulma, Sunarkhola and Takulla in Kalikot have been hit by landslides. Many people headed for Kalikot, Jumla and Achham are walking to their destinations after the transport services were disrupted.
Meanwhile, the swollen Ramghat river in Dailekh and Takulla river in Kalikot have also hit vehicular movement. Puskar Regmi of the Road Division Office in Kalikot said an excavator that was sent to clear the landslide debris has been stranded in the middle. Torrential rains also damaged three school buildings and 11 houses in Kalikot.
In Kanchanpur, four wheelers have been barred from crossing the Banabasa bridge over the Mahakali river near Gaddachauki after the water flow in the river exceeded the danger limit. On Sunday evening, the water flow in the Mahakali was 129,000 cusec. On Saturday, the flow had reached 219,000 cusec. Meanwhile, the Kanchanpur local administration appealed to the government to take immediate measures to contain erosion caused by the Mahakali flood near Bhujela. The village is at high risk of floods.
In Banke district, the Rapti river flood has damaged four culverts at the Baghauda region, which has left 80,000 people without access to the district headquarters of Nepalgunj.
First U.N. Climate Fund Board Meeting Set For August 23
By Nina Chestney | Reuters
The first board meeting of the United Nations' Green Climate Fund will be held on August 23 to 25, an official at the fund's interim secretariat confirmed on Thursday, five months later than it was originally planned.
The fund is designed to help channel up to $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to climate change. However, the fund is an empty shell after last year's U.N. climate talks failed to make solid progress on sources of finance and the global economic crisis has left rich nations reluctant to commit cash, prompting fears the money may not emerge in time. The board's first meeting will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, and will start work on the board's organisation and operations and the fund's first workplan.
"We are ready and set to go for the first board meeting on August 23 to 25 in Geneva," Henning Wuester, senior manager at the fund's interim secretariat, told Reuters. "We hope to have at least one more meeting before Qatar," he added, referring to an additional board meeting which could take place before a major U.N. climate conference in Doha starts on November 26.
One of the key issues for the board this year will be selecting the fund's host country. Germany, Mexico, Namibia, Poland, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland have all made official requests to host the fund. A decision on which country will be the host will be presented to the Doha meeting at the end of the year, the interim secretariat said in a statement on Thursday. Disagreements about who should sit on the fund's governing panel have delayed its first meeting to five months later than it was originally planned.
Originally set to take place in April, the meeting was postponed three times as regional groups of countries thrashed out which nations would represent them on the board, which will have 24 members and 24 alternatives coming equally from both developing and developed countries. There were fears that any further delays in the board's organisation could slow the process towards the fund's launch, which is expected in 2013, as well as run the risk of undermining U.N. climate talks in Qatar.
The meeting was first pushed back until the end of May after European Union countries disagreed over the allocation of seats to its member states. Thirteen countries requested a seat, wanting to ensure they have a say in the funding decisions. The meeting was then delayed a second time in May and finally pushed back to the end of August after the fund's interim secretariat awaited nominations from the Asia, Pacific and Latin America and Caribbean regions. The secretariat finally received the last of those nominations on Wednesday, Wuester said.
Carbon Monoxide's Damaging Role In Heart Rhythm Found
By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News
The way that even low levels of carbon monoxide can be fatal, by disrupting the heart's rhythm, has been unravelled by researchers in Leeds.
They found that levels common in heavy traffic could affect the way the heart resets itself after every beat. Their study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine showed a common angina drug may reverse the effect. The British Heart Foundation said the research was a promising start.
Carbon monoxide is produced by faulty boilers, cigarettes and car exhausts. It is deadly at high levels as it "shoulder-barges" oxygen out of the blood, meaning less is transported around the body. Carbon monoxide poisoning kills more than 50 people in the UK each year and many more around the world. However, studies have suggested that even low levels, such as that found in built-up cities with lots of traffic, may also damage the heart. The University of Leeds research team found that the gas kept sodium channels, which are important for controlling the heartbeat, open for longer. Disrupting the sodium channels can disrupt the heart's rhythm, leading to cardiac arrhythmia, which can be fatal.
In collaboration with researchers in France they tested an angina drug - which also affects the sodium channels - on rats. Prof Chris Peers, from the University of Leeds, told the BBC: "It was very exciting for us. When we monitored rats exposed to levels of carbon monoxide similar to heavy pollution, they had the same heart problems and we could reverse them. "At the moment no one knows how to treat this. We're saying look there's a drug on the shelf that might be able to help. "Of course it needs clinical trials, but we believe it is a great start." Dr Helene Wilson, a research advisor at the British Heart Foundation, said: "This study is a good example of research being used to better understand the underlying causes of an abnormal heart rhythm and in this case it has uncovered the ability of an old drug to perform a new trick. "Carbon monoxide poisoning is tragically common but hopefully these promising results can be replicated in people so that it saves lives in the future."
Ocean Acidification Could Disrupt Marine Food Chains
Ocean acidification caused by climate change is making it harder for creatures from clams to sea urchins to grow their shells, and the trend is likely to be felt most in polar regions, scientists said on Monday.
A thinning of the protective cases of mussels, oysters, lobsters and crabs is likely to disrupt marine food chains by making the creatures more vulnerable to predators, which could reduce human sources of seafood. "The results suggest that increased acidity is affecting the size and weight of shells and skeletons, and the trend is widespread across marine species," the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said in a statement of the findings.
Human emissions of greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, and some of that carbon dioxide ends up in the oceans, where it dissolves to form acid. The ocean acidification makes it harder for creatures to extract calcium carbonate - vital to grow skeletons and shells - especially from chill waters in the Arctic Ocean and around Antarctica, according to the study in the journal Global Change Biology. "Where it gets colder and the calcium carbonate is harder to get out of the seawater the animals have thinner skeletons," Professor Lloyd Peck of the BAS told Reuters TV in an interview.
So a shift towards acidification in the ocean was likely to force animals to have smaller skeletons, he said of the study by scientists in Britain, Australia and Singapore. "We think that the polar regions, and especially Antarctica, are likely to be the first places where animals reach these critical problems for making skeletons," he said. Changes under way in the chill waters were likely to be a sign of what to expect in future in temperate zones and the tropics, he said.
The experts studied four types of creatures - clams, sea snails, lamp shells and sea urchins - at 12 sites, stretching across the globe from the Arctic to the Antarctic. "The fact the same effect occurs consistently in all four types suggests the effect is widespread across marine species, and that increasing ocean acidification will progressively reduce the availability of calcium carbonate," it said.
In the past, animals had evolved to be able to live in places where calcium carbonate is relatively difficult to obtain - such as off Antarctica - by forming lighter skeletons, it said. So there was hope that they might be able to evolve again to adapt. "Given enough time and a slow enough rate of change, evolution may again help these animals survive in our acidifying oceans," said Sue-Ann Watson, of James Cook University in Australia.
Climate Change Puts Moves On Coffee Growers
By Meg Lowman
Coffee is migrating. As it’s getting hotter at lower altitudes, the lower plants are dying off, so it marches the coffee forest up the slopes.
Coffee, java, morning Joe, black wine, jolt juice, espresso, cappuccino.… A cup of coffee has inspired business deals, exam-preparation, student all-nighters, real estate transactions, truck-driving, dating, and diplomacy. It represents a daily ritual for millions of Americans. Imagine a world without coffee?
Several biological challenges threaten to shrink the world’s coffee supply. Almost all agricultural products that humans plant in monocultures – potatoes, pine lumber, corn, tobacco and cotton, to name but a few – ultimately get attacked by insect pests. Coffee is no different. The coffee berry borer (called la broca – “the drill” – in Latin America) did not exist in Ethiopia 50 years ago, but now significantly threatens the harvest in that country, where coffee originated. The beetle has gone global, and now thrives in almost every country that grows coffee. In addition to threats from creatures that munch directly on its berries, coffee crops are also declining from warming climates.
Research shows that for every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit temperature increase, the coffee borer is 8.5 percent more infectious. In other words, the beetles thrive in warmer conditions. But coffee plants do not thrive as temperatures increase, and for that same increment of warming, Colombian coffee growers must shift their plantations 550 feet up the hillsides to cooler temperatures. The coffee-growing districts of Ethiopia have experienced a heat increase of approximately 6 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1950s, forcing farmers to either buy land up the hillside or switch to more heat-tolerant crops. Another option for some coffee farmers is shade-grown coffee: By planting in the understory of original forests, the coffee plants remain several degrees cooler than in the open sunlight. However, many regions have already clear-cut their forests, so this option is not viable.
Environmentally speaking, every coffee drinker should request shade-grown coffee. Although it costs a few cents more per cup due to its slower growth timetable, it is more sustainable for the environment, tastes better, and is less susceptible to outbreaks of coffee borers when the plants are grown amid diverse forest trees. Either we find another popular liquid to stimulate our economic activities, or we seek solutions to the coffee borer and the warming trends that currently threaten our favorite java.
|Link of the Week|
A cleaner, greener Nepal
|Did you Know ?|
Research published Sunday in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change claims that warning sea levels in the Baltic Sea are strongly linked to recent blooms of the Vibrios bacteria group, which have corresponded with an uptick in humans reporting food borne illnesses in northern Europe. And while the study notes that the Baltic Sea is “the fastest warming marine ecosystem examined so far anywhere on Earth,” scientists also found that other temperate and even cooler regions, like Peru, Chile, Israel, the U.S. Pacific northwest and northwest Spain, have all seen growth in Vibrios infections after warmer weather.
|Media and Event Watch|
Every Monday 8:30 pm on Nepal FM 91.8 MHZ “Climate Change Mero Bhawisya Mero Chaso”
Every Sunday at 7:30 am on Radio Sagarmatha 102.4 MHz "Batabaran Dabali"
Every Monday at 5:30 pm (re-telecast every Tuesday 11 am) on ABC Television “Climate Change
Every Alternate Friday at 2 PM on ENPHO Hall – “Green Discussion” Organized by Clean Energy Nepal, Nepalese Youth for Climate Action anGrnd Green Youth Network
Every Friday on The Himalayan Times “THT Green Plus”
Environment Cycle Radio F.M.104.2Mhz (ECR FM)
|QUIZ of the Week # 521|
|While more than 80 percent of the people in the country still depend on traditional cooking methods fraught with serious consequences to health due to indoor air pollution, the center for alternative energy promotion center (AEPC) has shared good news that at least .................................... households are now free from such risks as they have been provided improved cooking stoves.
While sending your answer please mention “Quiz of the week#” in the subject line and please send your answer in firstname.lastname@example.org
One lucky winner will get an attractive prized from Clean Energy Nepal.
|Answer of the week # 520|
|According to IEA on its website US emissions have now fallen by …………..Mt (7.7%) since 2006, the largest reduction of all countries or regions.
Isha Dhakal is the lucky winner for this week. Please contact the CEN office within a week with your identity card.
Congratulation to the Winner and thanks to all participants.
CEN: 140 Bublbule Marg, Thapagaon, Kathmandu, Nepal. Tel: 977-1-44464981