Nepali delegation led by PM Deuba attended the World Leaders’ Summit (WLS) for the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) summit on climate change in Glasgow on November 2. At the COP26, Deuba urged world leaders to recognize climate vulnerability in the Himalayas and to put the mountain agenda at high priority. Nepal also submitted a Nationally Derived Contribution (NDC) to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. The NDC has come under huge scrutiny for being too ambitious. Similarly, the decision of PM Deuba and Chairman of Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre Pushpa Kamal Dahal to jointly launch two TV channels in accordance with Ramdev has come under huge scrutiny. The news saw a further backlash because the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act of 2019 restricts foreign investments on mass communication media which includes television.
Timeline for Major Events
|October 29||Nepali Delegation led by PM Deuba left for Glasgow to attend the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26)|
|November 2||PM Deuba was received by the British PM Boris Johnson in Glasgow for 26th Conference of Parties (COP26).|
|November 9||A team of 216 Nepal Army peacekeepers left Kathmandu for South Sudan.|
|November 10||The Chief of Nepal Army Prabhu Ram Sharma was conferred the honorary rank of General of the Indian Army by the India President Ram Nath Kovind.|
|November 10||Four people were arrested by the CIB (Central Investigation Bureau) for issuing a loan of Rs 190 million from Kumari Bank by using forged official documents.|
|November 23||Shots were fired at the 14th General Convention of Nepali Congress injuring 7 people including 2 police officers.|
Conference of Parties (COP26) summit on climate change
Nepal’s PM Sher Bahadur Deuba led the Nepali delegation to the World Leaders’ Summit (WLS) for the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) summit on climate change in Glasgow on November 2. At the COP26, PM Deuba has urged the world leaders to recognize the climate vulnerability in the Himalayas and to put the mountain agenda at high priority in all climate negotiations. Furthermore, PM has also highlighted the need to ensure proper support for the most vulnerable countries by scaling up financial, technological, and capacity-building resources. Similarly, 12 donor countries have pledged $413 million for the Least Developed Countries (LDC) fund which includes Nepal, to help the communities be resilient towards the impact of climate change. Although it was pledged to provide $100 billion per year by 2020 to the developing countries, it hasn’t been met. Furthermore, around three quarters of the money by 2018 was in the form of loans rather than in grants.
To achieve the Paris Agreement goals, each country was tasked with drafting their own pledges depending on their unique circumstances and abilities which was termed as Nationally Derived Contributions (NDC). Nepal also submitted an ambitious NDC as a part of the Paris Agreement. The document specifies that Nepal aims to reach a net zero emission by 2045. To reach the goal, Nepal aims to meet 15% of the country’s energy demand through clean energy sources and maintain 45% of the total area under forest cover by 2030. Furthermore, another major agenda is to ensure the protection of all vulnerable people from climate change by 2030. However, these pledges are conditional upon financial support.
The NDCs submitted by Nepal has come under huge scrutiny for being too ambitious. The agenda for ensuring the protection of all vulnerable people from climate change is too vague as it doesn’t specify who the vulnerable population is and how their protection will be ensured. Similarly, NDC also fails to provide a proper roadmap to achieve these targets. Experts have argued that the agenda to maintain 45% of the total area under forest cover by 2030 is the only realistic agenda, as the current forest cover stands at around 40%. Although different developmental projects such as Nijgadh airport which entails cutting down of forests would severely hinder the prospect of achieving the target. Moving forward, the government should clearly identify short-term and long-term strategies, and come up with a proper framework to achieve the goals.
Foreign Investments in Mass Communication Media
The decision of PM Deuba and Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal to jointly launch two TV channels in accordance with Ramdev has come under huge scrutiny. The two TV channels- Aastha Nepal and Patanjali Nepal will be used for broadcasting religious and yoga-related programs.
In a statement issued by Patanjali, the company said that the plans for the TV channels had gone through a verification process and after getting permission from the concerning bodies, the process to initiate the operations was started. However, according to the director general of Nepal’s Department of Information and Broadcasting, Gogan Bahadur Hamal these two channels are yet to apply for the registration. An investigation committee has been formed to further investigate the details regarding this. The news saw a further backlash because the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act of 2019 restricts foreign investments on mass communication media which includes television.
There is a huge debate regarding foreign investments in media sector. One group argues that allowing FDI in the media sector might have serious national security implications, whereas another group argues that Nepali media organizations should open up for foreign investments which would allow for a healthy competition within these media groups. The government should recognize that a complete restriction of FDI in mass communication media, in this globalized world is difficult. Thus, FDI should be acceptable in the sector, with fair rules and regulations. Furthermore, proper mechanisms should be developed to ensure national interest, diversity of opinion, and freedom of expression and sovereignty.
New Covid-19 Variant: Omicron
Nepali officials have alerted all the concerning bodies regarding the possible threats and associated risks of the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron. The concerns over the new variant surfaced after WHO classed it as a ‘variant of concern’. The variant was first detected in South Africa. After the discovery, many countries around the world have imposed travel ban on southern African countries. Following the news, Nepal has also decided to place a travel ban African nations.
WHO has stressed countries to accelerate the vaccination drive after the early evidence suggested that the variant had high risk of transmission. Amidst the growing concerns over the variant, Kathmandu city has stopped vaccination campaigns after reaching a ‘demand saturation’. The current trend suggests that it is important to educate people about the new variant and the importance of vaccination in controlling the spread of the virus.