5 December, 2007 - If the emission of
greenhouse gases causing global warming continues unabated, as it does
today, many Himalayan glaciers will disappear in the next 28 years,
according to the UN 2007-2008 Human Development Report on Fighting
Climate Change launched in Thimphu on December 4.
Although only 15 percent of the world’s population lives in rich countries, they are, however, responsible for 45 percent of the carbon emissions, which cause and accelerate global warming, the UN report points out. But they are not going to be the ones who will suffer the most: it will be the poor and the developing countries that will bear the biggest burden of climate change, says the report.
The United States is one of the biggest greenhouse emitters and the one of the remaining few who haven’t ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which sets targets for all countries to cut greenhouse emission against 1990 levels by 2012.
At the receiving end will be countries like Bhutan, lodged in the Himalayas, as glaciers are the chief source of its rivers, which not only sustain farm fields but also hydropower industry, which in Bhutan’s case is the main revenue earner. To call the UN report bad news would be an understatement, suggested the deputy minister for National Environment Commission (NEC), Dasho Nado Rinchhen.
Glaciers in Bhutan are already melting, said Dasho Nado Rinchhen. They are creating lakes which are filling up fast. These lakes are in danger of bursting. There are more than 2,600 glacial lakes in Bhutan of which about 26 have been identified as “potentially dangerous,” according to recent studies.
Bhutanese meteorology officials say that in the last five years Bhutan has experienced a two degrees increase in the average temperature. It has resulted in late monsoons, which have harmed paddy production.
Because of its extensive forest cover and limited pace of industrialization, Bhutan has not contributed to global warming, said UN resident representative, Nicholas Rosellini. But it is already bearing the effects of climate change.
The UN report suggests that developed countries should cut emissions by at least 80 percent and developing countries by 20 percent by the year 2050.
Dasho Nado Rinchhen said that the launch of the UN report was timely as the Bhutanese delegation would be joining other developing nations in Bali, Indonesia, next week to discuss climate change.
“We will ask for immediate and deeper cuts from developed nations while urging them to improve support in terms of capacity building, technology transfer and financial resources to enable the countries to adapt to climate change,” said Dasho Nado Rinchhen.
Bhutan is a signatory to Kyoto Protocol and its commitment period would come to an end in 2012, but Dasho Nado Rinchhen said that Bhutan would continue support beyond 2012.
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