Current Policy Projections
According to the last national GHG inventory, Nepal’s emissions excluding LULUCF almost doubled between 1990 and 2011, going from about 25 MtCO2e to 44.5 MtCO2e in that period. Under current policies, emissions are expected to grow close to 50% and 70% by 2030, compared to 2016, reaching 67–75 MtCO2e in 2030. With this growth, the country’s per capita emissions would grow from 1.7 tCO2e/cap in 2011 to 2.0–2.2 tCO2e/cap by 2030, still below the world average required per capita emissions of 3.4 tCO2e/cap by 2030, according to a 1.5°C pathway (IGES, 2019).
Nepal is a least-developed country that is highly vulnerable to climate change. Particular vulnerabilities include rapidly melting glaciers, resulting in the danger of glacial lake outbursts and degradation of agricultural land, on which two thirds of the population base their livelihoods (Government of Nepal, 2014). Therefore, Nepal focuses most of its climate change action on adaptation. Nepal has developed nine National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs). These NAPAs focus mainly on the agricultural sector, water resources and disaster risk management (UNFCCC, 2013). For Nepal to be able to implement these NAPAs, replenishment of the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) is needed (UNFCCC, 2014).
Still, in the last year, Nepal has also moved ahead in the mitigation front. At the end of 2018, the Prime Minister of Nepal launched the ‘National Action Plan for Electric Mobility’ which supports the implementation of Nepal’s NDC, especially in terms of clean transport, energy diversity and air quality targets. At the beginning of 2019, a study by the Forest Research and Training Centre in Nepal found that the country’s forest area has nearly doubled, from 26% of land area in 1992 to 45% in 2016. This makes Nepal an exception to the global trend of deforestation.
Energy-related emissions contributed about 37% to Nepal’s total emissions excluding LULUCF in 2016 and in the same year, about 91% of Nepal’s population had access to electricity (World Bank Group, 2018). This share is expected to increase to 100% by 2030 (Shrestha & Shakya, 2012). The Nepali energy mix is dominated by hydropower. It accounts for nearly 90% of installed capacity and 95% of total generation of energy (Government of Nepal, 2014).
To meet the growing energy demand, the Government recently unveiled a “white paper” on Nepal’s energy sector with the primary target of generating 15,000 MW of electricity in the next one decade (Government of Nepal, 2018b). On top of this, the government is set to mark the years 2018–2028 as the Energy Decade: “emphasis will be given to the development and expansion of hydroelectricity and all types of renewable energy to provide clean energy to all Nepali households within the coming three years and to avail electricity to all households per demand within the next five years” (Government of Nepal, 2018a). Next to the developments on national level, targets around the installation of renewable energy capacity are set on sub-national, provincial, level.
As a landlocked country, road transport accounts for over 90% of the domestic movement of passengers and freight in Nepal. Because of rapid urbanisation, rising incomes and increased road access in rural areas, the total number of registered vehicles increased significantly, as did GHG emissions levels.
In October 2018, the Prime Minister of Nepal launched the ‘National Action Plan for Electric Mobility’ which assesses the current state of the transport sector in Nepal and explores various scenarios for electrification in line with targets set in the NDC. It also reviews key barriers to greater electrification of the transport sector and lays out actions for short- and medium-term implementation (GGGI, 2018). Additionally, specific plans to ban fossil-fuelled vehicles in cities such as Kathmandu, Chitwan, Hetauda, Banepa, Dhulikhel and Panauti have been announced on sub-national, provincial, level. According to the announcement, the sale and distribution of fossil-fuelled vehicles will not be allowed after 2028. The plans encourage city dwellers to switch to electric vehicles as their means of transportation (Onlinekhabar, 2018).
The majority of emissions in Nepal are non-CO2 GHG emissions from the agriculture sector. In 2016, methane and nitrous oxide contributed to 60% of total GHG emissions, excluding LULUCF. The largest share of these emissions come from rice cultivation, enteric fermentation and agricultural soils (Government of Nepal, 2014). Some studies have been carried out to explore potential to implement Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) in Nepal, which would contribute to both mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change (CIAT; World Bank; CCAFS and LI-BIRD, 2017). However, to date, little information was found on whether any of these CSA actions are being implemented.
At the beginning of 2019, a study by the Forest Research and Training Centre in Nepal found that the country’s forest area has nearly doubled, from 26% of land area in 1992 to 45% in 2016 (Forest Research and Training Centre, 2019). This makes Nepal an exception to the global trend of deforestation. But the new research, conducted by a NASA-funded team, does not indicate whether Nepal has been free from deforestation in recent decades. Rather, the data show that on average, more new forests have been established than have been cut down, resulting in a net forest gain (Nepali Times, 2019).
From 1950 to 1980, Nepal lost much of its forest cover. Deforestation was due in part to a growing rural population that cut trees to harvest timber and convert land to agriculture. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the government began handing over hectares of national forest land to communities to manage. Local communities were seen to have a vested interest in preserving forest resources for long-term, sustainable use. They also were better positioned to monitor forests and enforce rules for harvesting forest products. The new report finds that areas with high rates of community forest membership experienced the most forest recovery, implying that decentralised forest management has played a key role in Nepal’s reforestation (Nepali Times, 2019).
In July 2016, the Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation published its Forestry Sector Strategy (2016–2015), which aims to enhance forest carbon stocks and reduce deforestation (Government of Nepal, 2016a). Concrete goals mentioned for 2025 include an increase in the forest carbon stock by 5% and a reduction of the mean annual deforestation rate from 0.44% and 0.18% to 0.05% in Nepal’s largest forests, Tarai and Chure, respectively. Additionally, the Strategy envisages the operation of a forest carbon trade or payment mechanism, which could facilitate the protection of Nepali forests.