Screening verification report

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Screening is done before project in order to identify the potential environmental and social impacts the project may bring about. The Screening process is important to prevent the potential hazards, by opting for other than the proposed methods if necessary. The screening involves the consideration of pollutants emitted, of biodiversity harmed, waste disposal and even the health and safety impacts. But while screening is necessary to see that there is no flaw in the environmental concerns of any project, screening verification is also important to see that there is no flaw in the screening report itself. So what are included in the screening verification report?

The Screening Verification Report includes the Environmental Screening Verification and the Social Screening Verification. The environmental screening verification first verifies the baseline, that is, whether the screening report include the basic surrounding environment like the location and land use, river, water body, forest, community forest, protected area and buffer zone. It also verifies if the impacts pertaining to solid, liquid, waste and gaseous emission, air, water, soil, noise pollution, storage or disposal of wastes and health and safety impacts are included in the screening report or not. Finally, it includes the subproject categorization and recommendation of the safeguard document to be prepared during Detailed Design (DD).

The Social Screening Verification also includes the same issues as that of the Environmental Screening Verification, the baseline, impacts and categorization and recommendation. The Baseline checks if the screening report has outlined the presence of nearby and vulnerable community. The impacts are measured on the basis of displacement, involuntary land acquisition and population impacted.

Climate Change is Now

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Climate change is the stunned tears when a rural family in terai, the flat plains of Nepal, in the bank of Koshi river had to leave their dead infant to float away in the river when the flood did not leave even a burial ground. Climate Change is the utter despair the photographers and the world felt after seeing the picture of the starving polar bear minutes from its death. Drought, famine, sea level rise, water scarcity, climate refugees, extreme events, dying corals, wildfire, retreating glaciers, species extinction, infrastructure loss, ecosystem and most of all, our way of life is the cost of carbon. Climate change is the screams of people as their heritage was slowly swept away by the coastal tide. Climate change is the terror in people when they see their loved ones drowning and their home broken by disasters. Climate change is now.

Yes, the disasters have always been occurring in the world, but the frequency and intensity and even the duration has all changed considerably, due to the warming globe and the changing climate. According to Kevin Trenberth from U.S National Center for Atmospheric Research, “Global warming is contributing to an increased incidence of extreme weather because the environment in which all storms form   has changed from human activities.” All the extreme events that occurred in the face of earth in 2017 has cost the economic loss of around  $306 billion, as calculated by Insurance firm Swiss Re, which is almost double 2016’s loss of $188 billion. “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” (IPCC). According to J. Eric Smith, CEO, Swiss Re, “What keeps us up at night is climate change. We see the long-term effect of climate change on society, and it really frightens us.” Typhoon Haiyan  killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines, left four million people without houses, and caused $2 billion (1.48 billion euros) worth of damage. Similarly other coastal storms and disasters like floods have also caused damage all over the world. Kiribati has already become the first nation to buy land in another country for their climate refugees. 20,000,000 people were affected by flooding in the September 2010 flooding in Pakistan. Over a million were forced to flee their homes in the flooding in Assam, India. Up to three million people were affected by flooding in China in June 2014. In April 2017, it was revealed that two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has been severely damaged by coral bleaching.

While studying my course in environmental Science, in 2016, I had visited one of the mountain village to learn about the impact of climate change in people’s livelihood as a part of my final year undergrad project. Most of villagers I met were farmers and their livelihood was dependent on agriculture. But, the change in rain pattern, especially causing from the delay in monsoon rains have largely affected the agricultural yield diminishing their ability to produce sufficient yields. And this has forced them to look for other income sources, which is why many of the adult male members of the families are migrating to middle east for labour jobs. Only the old men and women are left in the village, creating more work burden to women. These stories are not often reported in mainstream media or even discussed in the climate change debate. Most of the people and experts are obsessed with issues of snow melting and glacier lake outburst and often ignore these social issues. The impact people are feeling at the household level are often ignored more than we like, as the impacts from the changes occur in almost every communities of the world, and all of the effects require most immediate actions. What we need right now is no doubt the think global, and act local. Similarly, I have lived in the city of Kathmandu, and have the first hand experience of water scarcity. The traditional water sources are drying out in kathmandu. The water spouts (dhunge drara) which were once the key water source of communities in major areas of kathmandu valley are now dried up. The place Sun Dhara, which literally translates to golden taps, was a famous community tap for many decades, but now, are only reminiscent of the past. Because of the depleting water discharge in these stone spouts, the local people now rely on other methods. like paying water tankers to bring them water from other sources. This actually has created another pressure in other water sources nearby kathmandu valley where I often see water tankers queuing up in those rivers and springs putting new risks to these new water sources.  In the age, where we are constantly aware of what is happening in the areas of climate change locally and globally, these traditional knowledge systems and traditional water sources are slowing slipping out of our conscious minds.

While negotiations are going around in the world to combat the climate change, the scenarios of the climate change is taking turn for the worst in many places across the world. In regards to the international agreements pertaining to climate change, Nepal has also been doing works for the cause, major ones being the National Adaptation Plan (NAP), National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA), Local Adaptation Plan of Action (LAPA), which works for the adaptation and building resilience of the communities to the changing climate. Any delay in climate action is renewed risk to these community places, delay in negotiation is losing another species, delay in switching to renewable sources is the loss of biodiversity, delay in policy formulation is the loss of life. Because climate change is now.

 

Barriers to installing Biogas

One of the major barriers in installing bio gas components can be the technical constraints. It is important to see the feasibility of installing a large scale biogas program in any place and if it fits in the local constraint. For a productive bio gas plant, it is important to maintain the minimum digester temperature throughout the year, night stabling, water availability. Space is another important consideration. Some of the farmers from higher Himalayas elevation report insufficiency of gas during colder months. These are some of the technical barriers that may come up during the project.

The technical barriers shown by AEPC are as follows:

  • Research & Development: lack of research and development to continuously improve and innovate the technology to improve efficiency and additional end uses for income-generating activities;
  • Orientation of the construction companies: all the companies engaged in plant construction have a profit motif, there is some negligence about the quality control and after-sale-service.

When installing biogas availability of manure and water as input needs to be assured to be close to the plant’s inlet and correct plant operation should be ensured. These can be addressed by user trainings, illustrative manuals, to name a few.

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Sometimes, the installation cost can be too much for the people to be able to afford. At such times, subsidy policies are expected to make the installation possible. The barrier can also be the question of how to scale up and stimulate bio slurry use in the community, which can be a very useful trading opportunity too. Trading appliances can be another hindrance which can be supported by the reduced government taxes.

The financial economic barriers are as follows:

  • “High investment costs required for plant installation, because it is probably the largest investment made by a farmer. Cost reduction without compromising reliability is an important aspect;
  • Farmer’s affordability: the negative growth in agricultural sector and inflation has adversely affected the farmer’s affordability. Lack of adequate income-generating activities and support required for such activity is an important barrier for technology dissemination as biogas;
  • Access to credit: loans for the construction of a biogas plant is difficult to an ordinary farmer as often mortgage is required to advance the loan. Sufficient properties are often not owned.” (AEPC, 2000)

The social barriers is identified to be: Illiteracy. Studies show that 75% of the biogas owners are educated. However, it is very difficult to convince uneducated farmers about its importance.

To address this problem, usually information is disseminated through the radio broadcasts, and information are prepared in printed form with very little text.

BIODEGRADABLE WASTE TO ENERGY

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Any materials that can be decomposed are regarded as biodegradable. Maximum of the waste generated in household level is usually biodegradable, and therefore has the potential of getting converted into energy instead of getting lost as solid waste. Even in the case of Kathmandu, Solid waste management is a huge problem and over 70% of the waste generated is organic waste. The landfill site is a mess because of unmanaged waste disposal and has resulted in problems of leachate  infiltration to odour to outbreaks of diseases. Instead of having problems like these, if we were to take up a more sustainable approach to convert the waste into energy, it would help in reusing these wastes, reducing dependency on the fossil fuels, more managed waste disposal to name a few.

According to the Baseline and Feasibility Assessment of the Waste to Energy Report, 2015, submitted to the AEPC, (Alternative Energy Promotion Center,) the available biodegradable waste produced per day for the community biogas plant from cattle dung, night soil and kitchen are 8.5 per cattle, 0.86 kg per person and 0.34 kg per person respectively. The waste produced per day for the commercial level biogas plant from cattle farm, night soil, kitchen waste are 45.83 kg per buffalo, 7.91 kg per cattle, 0.48 kg person and 0.38 kg per person respectively. The waste produced for the institutional level biogas plant from night soil and kitchen waste are 0.46 kg per person and 0.36 kg per person respectively. Similarly, for municipal level biogas plants, organic solid waste generated is 0.51 kg per capita. Community biogas plant for 4-5 family of 15 m3 size will reduce 9940 kg fuel wood and 10.46 ton CO2 emission per year. Commercial and Institutional biogas plant of 35 m3 size will reduce 1873 kg LPG and 5.59 ton CO2 emission per year. Municipal solid waste of 136 ton per day for Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur districts will reduce 18,764 tonne CO2 per year.

The breakdown of organic matter by anaerobic bacteria produces a mixture of different gases like the methane and carbon dioxide which is referred to as the biogas. The wastes coming from variety of sources like animal manure, plant material, sewage, municipal waste, food waste can be turned into biogas this way. This biogas can then be used as an alternative energy, after converting it into heat or electrical energy. It also exerts far less carbon footprint than the fossil fuels while also managing the wastes in a more sustainable way. The main microorganisms that breaks down these wastes are Psychrophillic bacteria, Mesophilic bacteria and Thermophilic bacteria. According to studies, the gas production potential of cattle is about 0.023-0.040 m3 gas production per kg, that of pig is 0.040-0.059 m3 and that of human excreta is 0.020-0.028 m3.

The subsidy policy of Nepal (2069) recognizes broadly four different types f waste to energy projects. They are commercial, institutional, community and municipal. The municipal solid waste based biogas plant converts municipal waste to energy. The community based biogas plant has a common gas grid system and is built to help convert all the community wastes accumulation to energy. The produced slurry is also shared among the community people for farming fertilization purpose or can be sold to the market too. The plants installed in commercial institutions like firms, farms, hotels, industries are referred to as commercial biogas plant and they are of higher capacity than the household ones. The bio digesters established in institutional places like academic institutions, religious institutions, farms, etc, are referred to as institutional biogas plant.

Because of the ongoing climate crisis, reducing the green house gases emission has become a major concern of the present, and one of the best ways to do that is through the renewable energy technology. The first Clean Development Mechanism was also prepared for the biogas technology and registered with the UNFCCC. The Centre for Rural Technology has also implemented CDM-GS prject in six districts in Terai of Nepal and certified emission reductions have been issued. The Netherlands Development Organization has also initiated ICS carbon projects in seven district of Far-Western region to promote 150,000 improved stoves. But still, according to a study by the Ministry of Finance in 2015, the consumption of traditional, commercial and renewable energy has been 77%, 20% and 3%, which shows how much dependent we are on the traditional energy system. But, the potential of biogas in Nepal is huge, and Nepali farming system is heavily dependent on livestock, and according to the same report, there is technical biogas potential for at least one million household size plants, 57% located in the Terai plains, 37% in the hills and 6% in remote hills. There are about 200 community and institutional biogas plants in Nepal which range from 6-75 m3 and are normally fed from kitchen wastes, toilet waste and livestock manure.

The Basics of Green Climate Fund

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With the changing climate taking its toll on the planet and affecting every sector possible, from environmental deterioration to health hazards to resources depletion to infrastructural damage, it has become the need of the present to go for mitigation measures to prevent the emissions of green house gases which is the main culprit of climate change and to go for adaption to adjust to the change in climates and make communities across the world more resilient to the problems arising from the changing climate. No doubt the whole process requires a lot of investment from government, non government and the private sectors and The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a fund established within the framework of the UNFCCC for the very purpose, to assist developing countries in these adaptation and mitigation practices. The objective of the Green Climate Fund is to “support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties using thematic funding windows” According to UNFCCC, “The Fund is governed by the GCF Bo ard and it is accountable to and functions under the guidance of the COP to support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties using thematic funding windows.” The GCF was established by the COP at its sixteenth session by decision 1/CP.16, and is intended to be the main fund for global climate change finance in the context of mobilizing USD 100 billion by 2020.

There various Green Climate Funds Projects in various countries. GCF-EBRD Kazakhstan Renewables Framework in Kazakhstan, Renewable Energy Program #1 – Solar in Mongolia, Egypt Renewable Energy Financing Framework in Egypt, Geeref Next in multiple countries, Accelerating the Transformational Shift to a Low-Carbon Economy in the Republic of Mauritius in Mauritius, Catalyzing private investment in sustainable energy in Argentina – Part 1 in Argentina, SCF Capital Solutions in South Africa, Business loan programme for GHG emissions reduction in Mongolia, Universal Green Energy Access Programme in 5 countries of Africa, Sustainable Energy Facility for the Eastern Caribbean in 5 countries of Latin America, Climate Action and Solar Energy Development Programme in the Tarapacá Region in Chile, Bhutan for Life in Bhutan, Ground Water Recharge and Solar Micro Irrigation to Ensure Food Security and Enhance Resilience in Vulnerable Tribal Areas of Odisha in India, Tajikistan: Scaling Up Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience in Tajikistan, Pacific Islands Renewable Energy Investment Program in Cook Islands, Sustainable Landscapes in Eastern Madagascar, GCF-EBRD Sustainable Energy Financing Facilities in 10 Countries of Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, and KawiSafi Ventures Fund in East Africa in Rwanda and Kenya.

The GCF seeks to have an impact within eight mitigation and adaptation results areas identified by the Fund’s Board. The mitigation areas are energy generation and access, transport, forests and land use, buildings, cities, industries and appliances and the adaptation areas are health, food and water security, livelihoods of people and communities, infrastructure and built environment and ecosystems and ecosystem services. The cross cutting investment priorities that are expected to aid in the mitigation and adaptation areas are transforming energy generation and access, creating climate-compatible cities, encouraging low-emission and climate-resilient agriculture, scaling up finance for forests and climate change and enhancing resilience in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

As the GCFs acts as central fund for the mitigation and adaptation of climate change, developing nations who are parties to the convention are eligible to receive the GCF. The fund can be accessed through implementing entities, accredited international and regional entities. Enhanced Direct Access allows the accredited institutions to design and implement their own program whereas other models allow finance to be accessible only through projects approved by the GCF board. The entities develop of fund proposals and the management and monitoring of projects and programs. Entities are selected on the basis of capacities in driving climate action. According to GCF 101, GCF has introduced a “fit-for-purpose” system to scale them differently according to their capacities and how they address the climate finance needs of different countries and while the scopes of accreditation vary, all entities need to meet a number of basic standards which are based on basic fiduciary standards, environmental and social safeguards and gender consideration.

Despite the highly competitive procedure of selecting the entities, some controversies have arised. For instance, the HSBC has provided nearly US$5.4 billion in financing for coal since 2010 and has still managed to clear the accreditation process, while the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance was relegated because it lacked a demonstrable track record, according to IIED.

Changing Climate Patterns and the Himalayas

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Climate Change is bringing about many threats to all the communities across the world and the problem only continue to increase with one crisis unraveling tens or hundreds others. The global community is threatened by the increasing sea level, increased cases of erratic rainfall, drought in some places and floods in other, the biodiversity going for sixth mass extinction, increased vulnerability and reduced resilience. This happens because all the natural systems are so intricately connected to each other that a disturbance in one causes disruption in many others connected to it.

Nepal is a small mountainous country with a very small area but climate ranging from tropic in the south to alpine in the north. As such, climate change is impacting Nepal in many different ways. While many cases of agricultural losses is reported from all the regions, the changing climate usually has completely different effects in different communities, just because the climatic condition is so varied, and the vulnerability and resilience of the places are also different. In the past 100 years, the global average temperature has risen by about 0.74 degrees Celsius. It has also resulted in intense and frequent storms and hurricanes, heat waves, snowfalls, intense downpour, etc, and Nepal is no exception.

The many glaciers and mountains in the Himalayan region of Nepal feeds major rivers downstream, and we can see direct impacts of Climate Change in this region, in the form of melting of snow caps, retreating Glaciers, increased risks of Glacial Lake Outburst Flood, increased tree line and diminishing biodiversity. The changes in the Himalyan Hindu Kush region alone affect more than 1.3 billion people, according to International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). One of the major difficulties of changing climate is shorter but highly intense rainfall which causes problems like floods and landslides. With eight out of 15 highest peaks of the world, including the highest peak Mt. Everest, lying in its territory, the Nepal Himalayas is a major tourist destination attracting hundreds and thousands of tourists every year. It sustains the livelihood of many people along the route. Climate change has its effect through fiercer storm and the Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs). Because of the changes in the hydrological cycle, storms and downpours are getting very intense. GLOFs are major risks in mountainous areas. Glaciers always carry stones and rocks along with the ice and snow. Due to increasing temperature, glaciers are retreating at a very fast pace, and when they retreat, they leave this moraine as a form of dam. The melting ice continues to build up water content in this lake until the moraine cannot handle the pressure any more, and then it bursts, causing flood and damages in many areas downstream. As it is difficult to predict when glacial lakes bursts, it makes things even more difficult. Many communities are at risk downstream.

Now when we come down toward south from the Himalayan region, we have the Hilly region called Siwalik. The Himalayas area is the origination point of nine big river systems all of which have been affected due to global warming and climate change. Apart from posing flood problems to millions of peoples along the banks, the altered hydrological cycle also triggers landslides in many places. The topography of the Himalayan Region and Siwalik is very weak in itself, and the increasing flood instances only make it weaker and more vulnerable to huge landslides. The instances of landslides are only increasing every year.

The southern part of Nepal is Terai, which is a fertile river basin. Now as the glaciers retreat at alarming rate, the flood risk increases in Terai, as the river here are fed by these mountains and glaciers. Also, the erratic rainfall is increasing the instances and risks of flash flood.

Nepal is already facing the brunt of climate change, and its hugest impact can be seen in the agricultural sector. The agriculture in Nepal is of subsistence type, and the farmers are not equipped with sophisticated technologies. They are completely reliant on the natural rain for their harvest. But due to the erratic rainfall and increased hailstorms these days, the entire harvest gets destroyed. This further fuels food insecurity. Dubar, a remote village in Lamjung district, is where I went to conduct research on the changing climate and livelihood, for my bachelor’s project. We can see the changes in harvesting time, increased potato pests, increase in mosquito when there were none a few years back, decrease in forest biodiversity, complete drying up of the community well, etc. The people also gave up on their cattle because of the heavy invasion by invasive species.

These kinds of changes are changing people’s way of life, and not for the better. Millions of people are displaced every year due to flood and other disasters, and they lose everything to live their remaining life as refugees. They lose lands, their community and their culture in the process, and this is not their choice, this is the price of Carbon. If opting for sustainable and green energy is possible, then there is just no point in delaying action, and allowing temperature increase of more than 1.5. The Cop21 resulted in historic declaration for this. We already are in a very critical tipping point, with so many uncertainties regarding the climate change. The ecosystems in the world are connected in such a complex way, we don’t fully understand what implications the changing climate may have. An increase of only .5 causes changes in many species growth, and further increase only multiplies all the effects. Climate change is increasing risk worldwide by one chain of events giving rise to another chain of events, and most of the times the impacts are faced by poor communities which had no hand at all in the carbon emission. It really is high time for the global community to work together to bring the emission down to minimum to reduce the carbon content from the atmosphere and halt the global warming as much as possible, as climate change does not only bring new, unprecedented problems, but also exacerbate the problems that are already there.

Renewable Energy as a Solution to the Climate Crisis

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Our sea level is rising, our mighty Himalayas and ice caps are melting, glaciers are retreating, water level is reducing, biodiversity is being lost, we are facing erratic rainfall, drought is some places and flood in other, there are food insecurity and political instability, we are facing problems of coral bleaching and salinization, every year people lose lives and property because of weather extremes, and our livelihoods are changing. This is climate crisis. And all of these are only some of the issues that we are facing. Climate change not only causes new problems, it worsens and exacerbates the already existing ones too. According to Kevin Trenberth from U.S National Center for Atmospheric Research, “Global warming is contributing to an increased incidence of extreme weather because the environment in which all storms form   has changed from human activities.”

The anthropogenic climate change that we are facing now is due to the fossil fuel emission. The carbon in the atmosphere directly causes the increased global temperature, which is affecting our hydrological cycle, global air mass flow and subsequently the climate change. That is why it is absolutely important to keep in check our global emission, and go for renewable sources, which is not only feasible, but absolutely crucial to keep in check the health of our earth, our home. The emission of fossil fuel not only causes global warming and climate change, but causes serious problem of health hazards resulting due to air pollution.  In the 15 countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions, the damage to health from poor air quality, largely associated with the burning of fossil fuels, is valued at an average of 4.4% of GDP, as said in the Better Climate, Better Growth: The New Climate Economy Report on September 2014. Switching from fossil fuel to alternative energy source is beneficial to the health of both people and the planet, and is always a win win situation.

“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” (IPCC). According to J. Eric Smith, CEO, Swiss Re, “What keeps us up at night is climate change. We see the long-term effect of climate change on society, and it really frightens us.” Switching to alternative energy is a very sustainable solution we have, to fulfill the needs and demand of people while ensuring minimum possible harm to the environment as well. By opting for renewable, we pose least possible pressure on our planet.

The fact that renewable are a feasible source of energy is also proven by the difference between the green energy projection and reality. In year 2000, the projection was that worldwide wind capacity will reach 30 GW by 2010, by 2013 that goal was exceeded by a factor of 10X. The world’s largest offshore wind farm, the London Array, can power 470,000 homes. Mexico has invested heavily in wind, including building one of the world’s largest windfarms. On May 11, 2014,  Germany generated 74% of its electricity from solar and wind energy. In September 2014, South Australia powered an entire workday with solar and wind energy. According to reports, enough solar energy reaches Earth every hour to meet the power needs of the entire world for a full year.

The places that did not have electricity before can directly get these new solar or wind energy. Even in case of Nepal, the rural mountain villages that did not have any electricity, are now getting it from solar panel, which is also debunking the myth that trapping solar energy might be difficult in mountains.

We are at the stage when we know climate change is happening and we need to stop emission. This is also what the Paris Agreement pointed towards. Transitioning to clean energy will reduce our reliance on coal and fossil fuel, and therefore, help in reducing emissions. This is absolutely important as according to climate reports, even if we were to completely halt our emissions right now, it would take many years for the carbon in the atmosphere to reduce and the impacts to wear off.