Friday, 3 December, 2021

Need For Effective Climate Reporting

Dr. Kundan Aryal

The term ‘climate reporting’ has gained wider currency in today’s journalism. It bears relevance in Nepal, too, for two reasons. First, it helps in spreading awareness of the impacts of climate change while keeping tabs on the government's plans and policies in this regard. Second, it will shape the global flow of news and information about the consequences of climate change and their implications for the Himalayan region.

Amidst the worldwide concerns over climate change, the environmental journalists could play a crucial role in informing the people about its catastrophic impacts. They are also required to scrutinise the implementation of the government's plan to reduce the country’s vulnerability to climate change, and facilitate the integration of climate change adaptation into policies, programmes and activities.

Global attention
In the ongoing 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (CoP26) in Glasgow, the UK, Nepal drew global attention to rising temperatures, glaciers receding, snowfall decreasing and melting in the Himalayan region. Nepal's National Climate Change Policy (NCCP), 2019 has identified numerous visible climate change impacts on the national economy and various areas of livelihood. These impacts are expected to further increase in the days to come.

Since an aware society develops resilience in tackling the climate change, the Nepali media could raise the awareness regarding the climate change adaptation capacity of people at home. Similarly, they need to draw the attention of international community to muster necessary resources for the implementation of National Dedication Commitment Report and provisions of carbon financing. Through the Cancun Agreements in 2010, the developed countries have expressed their commitment to contributing US$100 billion per year by 2020 to support the developing nations to implement climate mitigation actions.

Nepal accounts for only 0.02 per cent of the world's carbon emissions but it is highly vulnerable to climate change with frequent flash floods, glacial outbursts, droughts, landslides, heat waves, cold spells, and unpredictable rainfall. In this regard, the Nepali media needs to assert that the developed and the industrialised nations require continuing their efforts to meet the target fixed by COP 21 in Paris in December 2015.
The Paris Agreement has aimed at keeping the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius till the end of this century so as to achieve ideal goal of limiting the temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius as of pre-industrial level.

As Nepal government is a party to the UNFCCC, the effective environmental reporting can contribute to the full implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement which call for financial assistance from Parties with more financial resources to the poor, mountainous and more vulnerable nations. Nepal has pursued a robust agenda and made a good bargain with the developed countries to help people mitigate the effects of climate change in the future. 

Nepal could have taken the national agenda more effectively if the domestic media gave wider coverage of the issue having global outreach. However, the Nepali and foreign media outlets have raised the plights of the Nepali people caused by climate change and the climate hazards.

In this backdrop, the Nepali journalists are expected to cover climate change by prioritising the national interests and considering the sensitivity of the Himalayan region. Along with the increasing access to climate finance, establishing the climate change-related specialised issues as a common voice of countries at risk of climate change in the international arena is a challenging task. Nepali media can contribute with the tireless flagging of the national agenda.

Adaptation capacity
Given that innumerable negative impacts of climate change on the national economy and various areas of livelihood are expected to further increase in future, National Climate Change Policy, 2019 presents two major objects. The first is to enhance the climate change adaptation capacity of persons, families, groups and communities vulnerable to, and at risk of, climate change as well as to build the resilience of ecosystems that are at risk of adverse impacts of climate change. Specific measures such as promoting a green economy would fall under this objective. The second is to mobilise national and international financial resources for climate change mitigation and adaptation in a just manner.

One of the strategies of the NCCP is the dissemination of information relating to weather with the focus on the expansion and capacity enhancement of whether stations in various geographical regions. In order to ensure the food security, it stresses for giving early warning to farmers relating to weather through agricultural extension programmes. Such policies could be materialised through harnessing the effective role of the mass media. Mass media have been regarded as effective means of spreading awareness about risks of climate change on various thematic areas, and adaptation and mitigation measures. As there is a sufficient basis to state that around 80 per cent of Nepal’s population is at risk of natural and climate-induced hazards, the role of media is functional to address the challenges in the area of climate change management at home and abroad.

(Dr. Aryal is associated with the Central Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of Tribhuvan University.