Acting local, thinking global
The major energy systems of Nepal today – that either leave us reliant on our own hydroelectricity and fuel-wood or on the coal-derived electricity and fossil fuels that we import from India – have failed us in more ways than one. Today, many old and new ambitious mega-hydropower projects, in spite of their huge negative implications on river ecosystems, have been unable to meet our daily energy needs – a failure that can mostly be attributed to Nepal’sunstable political, economic and weather conditions. Such state of affairs has left the electrified areas of Nepal susceptible to tens of hours of blackouts each day, especially during the winter months.
Burning fuel-wood for energy, on the other hand, practiced mostly by our rural poor, does not only encourage forest degradation but also releases more greenhouse gases (GHG) than burning coal. And our sole reliance on India for fossil fuels has proved to be a faulty practice in the past when Modi’s Government, unexpectedly, imposed a five month long blockade on us and left us scrambling to meet even our most basic of needs.
Relying on energy infrastructures such as these – that are solely profit-driven or require huge investments or are extremely polluting – has left one in four Nepalis starving for energy and has left Nepal ranking 74th(out of 80 countries)in the Energy Development Index. Much of the energy systems that we have in Nepal today are unpredictable and polluting at best and completely non-existent at worst – a fate we Nepalis share with more than 2 billion energy poor people around the world.
As the rest of the world today relies prominently on the same dirty, profit-driven energy infrastructures that we do, access to energy has failed to reach all people around the globe, especially since there is no guarantee of significant returns from many such energy-starving populations. This has had major impacts on the health, livelihood and environment of billions around the world. On top of this, dirty energy has also been responsible for climate change – one of the greatest man-made catastrophes till today.
To address such climate emergencies and livelihood disparities bought on by dirty energy, Reclaim Power - a global collaboration between movements and organizations – came into existence in 2013 to connect climate and energy struggles from all over the world. The collaborators of this group recognize energy as being “vital to the realization of people's right, social justice and sustainable economic development". Thus, they aim to motivate and rally as many people as possible for the promotion of public and community renewable and clean energy infrastructures – i.e. solar, wind and micro-hydro projects – in place of dirty energy produced bytransnational, money-hungry corporations.
To achieve such ends, Reclaim Power demands that no new potentially environment-and livelihood- threatening projects be undertaken by governments around the world. It instead stresses that all financial and technical resources and manpower should be funneled into clean, renewable, democratic and pro-poor energy systems that put “people and planet before profit”. Another major demand made by Reclaim Power is that governments – especially of the Global North – track and cap the wasteful energy consumptions by their major corporations and elites.
With the ultimate goal of reducing GHG emissions and ensuring easy energy access to all corners of the globe, in 2016, Reclaim Power has associated itself with many movements around the world that have helped raise awareness about such issues and gave common people a chance to be directly involved in climate action. Advocates, leaders, activists and commoners from Kenya to Sri Lanka to Bolivia to Mexico organized various climate interventions including rallies, peaceful protests, media roundtables, workshops and awareness programs to mobilize and inspire people.
In UK, for example, trade unionists, environmentalists and local resident groups convened to block fracking – an extremely polluting technique to extract fossil fuels and GHG – that was imminent in many communities across the country. Galvanized by the dire effects that fracking is known to have on the health, safety and environment of the surrounding communities and ecosystems, this anti-fracking protest has helped block any advancement on this issue for more than three years now.
In another part of the world, in Philippines, people from all walks of life came together, this October, to march against the Duterte Administration's decision to promote economic development on the backs of dirty, coal-powered energy. Recognizing that such a decision would not be conducive to equitable and sustainable development and citing examples of death and destruction caused by climate change in many parts of the world – including in Philippines itself- this movement requested the Duterte Administration to overthrow the coal legacy it had inherited from the preceding government and instead direct its attention towards renewables.
Meanwhile, recently in Bangladesh, a human chain was formed outside the National Press Center demanding that big polluters be kicked out of the annual climate conference – the Conference of Parties (COP). Citing the inherent conflict-of-interests between the bottom lines of polluting fossil fuel industries and such climate gatherings, this group wanted to remove such industries from climate negotiations so as to eliminate any undue influence while formulating climate policies.
Perhaps, any of these climate initiatives, by themselves, would not hold much of a significance on a global scale. But by interconnecting such actions to each other and by giving such local acts a global platform, Reclaim Power has amplified the voices of those that actually matter – the people who are on the ground, living and suffering.
When the effects of all such grassroots actions are compounded, they give each other weight and bolster one another so that policy makers can no longer ignore the voices of the common public. After all, one stick may break, but a bundle wont. By acting local but by thinking global, even those of us who feel hopelessly powerless can play a significant role in ushering in the era of renewable revolution and ensuring climate and energy justice for all.
(Pandey is a Btech. Biotech student currently working at ISET-Nepal and is a Climate Tracker)
Effect of monetary policy on risk, stability and financial crises
The crisis of 2008–09 has reignited a new interest in understanding money and credit fluctuations in the macro economy, and the crucial roles they could play in the amplification, propagation, and generation of shocks both in normal times and, even more so, in times of financial distress. This may reopen a number of fundamental fault lines in modern macroeconomic thinking between theories that treat the financial system as irrelevant, or, at least, not central to the understanding of economic outcomes, and those that reserve a central role for financial intermediation.
Air pollution control measures for Kathmandu Valley
According to the World Air Quality Index website, Air quality index of Ratnapark, Kathmandu was 158 on April 22 which is unhealthy. This means children and people with respiratory diseases should avoid outdoor exertion at this pollution level. If this quantity increases to more than 300, air quality level is considered as hazardous which means everyone should avoid outdoor exertion.
The return trip
It took us over five hours, drenched in rain, walking through treacherous ratomato sluggishly. It should not have taken more than two hours in a normal day. It was the cruellest irony that no sooner did we reach Panchkhal and sat at the Pipal Chautari to rest, than the bus we had left behind, arrived with people in the bus bursting with laughter on seeing us.
Prospects for Nepali talents in the Diaspora
When Indu, a Nepali American teen studying in Virginia, asked Panta whether she could inspire Nepali youngsters into music industry and convince their parents to consider Nepali music as a path to professionalism, the female heartthrob of Nepali music could not fully convince her.
Traffic Police in Kathmandu
As busy and hassling as the traffic system in Kathmandu is, the Traffic Police here have to handle an equally strenuous job. Over 1,400 traffic officers in and around the Kathmandu Valley battle against the pestering traffic and air pollution each day.
Menstrual taboo outdated
I have seen my sisters and friends isolated and treated in discriminatory manner during their first menstruation cycle. They were not allowed to look at the sun, to touch water source, flower, fruits, any male family member, nor even hear their voice. The activist may claim the situation has changed and I do agree but still during every month my loved ones turns into untouchables beings.