What could be considered a prelude to the United Nations climate change conference or Conference of Parties (COP-28) in UAE next month, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development warned that with a two degree rise in global warming, all of earth’s frozen parts will experience irreversible damage with disastrous consequences for millions of people, societies and nature.
This is based on a study reviewed by 60 leading scientists. If we feel that we have been hearing concerns about global warming for decades, the signs are here and becoming clearer. Experts had to be rushed to Lunana to study what caused the Pho river to swell and change colour recently. They observed glacier displacement on moraine walls of lakes.
This is a reminder of how vulnerable we are. If the lakes are not bursting, our glaciers, the source of rivers, are witnessing glacial water loss in billions of liters annually. At this rate our glaciers are expected to be lost within this century. Worse, experts say that glaciers in Bhutan lie in the eastern part of Himalayas—more common and sensitive to climate change. The implication will be on the river flow of which 45 percent depend on the health of our glacier.
If the situation is getting hotter in the mountains, farmers are experiencing strange conditions with their crops. They are quick to blame climate change for fruits rotting or seeing sub-tropical fruits thriving in colder places. What that means is that the warnings are starting to come true.
Earth just experienced its hottest 12-month span in history, with July being the hottest month on record. In Bhutan with an average temperature of 27.59 degree Celsius, September this year was the hottest September to date.
The dangers of climate change and its impact is that without a global commitment, it is an uphill battle to stop the rise in temperature. Our carbon negative status is not enough to prevent the consequences of a warming globe. It is said that climate change is moving mountains faster. This doesn’t bode well for us when the warnings of glacial lake outburst floods or retreating glaciers lie never seen before.
There is some hope as leaders will draw attention to climate change at the COP28. Bhutan could, with pride, share our success stories, visions and strategies for a sustainable and green future. The group of least developed countries will negotiate for climate financing to adapt and mitigate the threats of climate crisis. LDCs and vulnerable countries, especially those who contribute little or nothing to climate change should receive priority.
For Bhutan, there is an urgency. Bhutan, under the LDC fund, is preparing a proposal of USD 20 million for urban resilience projects. Once we graduate from the LDC category, a day after the COP-28, we will not be eligible for funds dedicated exclusively for LDCs.