Climate change is a global issue
To allow the conversation on regional collaboration and corporation to move forward, with the focus on the nexus between water, energy and food security, the two days meeting on the Himalayan third Pole Circle Meeting was held in the capital in last Thursday and Friday which was organized by National Environment Commission in collaboration with ICIMOD.
Since individual cannot fight against the climate change, during the opening ceremony of the meeting, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said no one country can fight climate change by itself. To fight climate change, we have to work together.
We have to work together because the international community can’t even agree on how climate change will affect our region, regardless of what these pundits say, the fact of the matter is that in Bhutan, our glaciers are retreating. They are retreating so quickly that we have had to literally claw our way through rocky moraine, to lower our glacial lakes, to prevent them from breaching their dams and flooding our valleys, said the Lyonchhen.
Lyonchhen further added that, regardless of what these pundits say, the fact of the matter is that in Bhutan, temperatures are rising. Our valleys are noticeably warmer and the snow on our mountain tops noticeably absent.
“Thinking globally, acting locally” is not enough. We’ve tried that in Bhutan. We’ve made tremendous sacrifices to “act locally”, but it’s clear that individual efforts, while they are important, cannot stand up to the onslaught of climate change. To stand up to climate change have to work together, we have to “think globally, act regionally”. The entire region must come together, to work together, to be heard together, to fight together. Only then will we be able to stand up to climate change. Only then will we be able to control temperatures from rising in our region, said the Lyonchhen.
Lyonchhen cited an example about our own body temperature; Lyonchhen said that it’s easy to control my temperature. If it increases by one degree centigrade, I feel uncomfortable. But I don’t need to do anything. But if my temperature increases by two degrees, I have high fever. All I need to do is pop a paracetamol and, voila, I’m better, my temperature is back down.
We may be resilient. But our planet is not.
Once temperatures increase due to climate change, there’s no easy way of bringing them down. There’s no paracetamol for climate change. An overall increase of one degree centigrade will make us feel very uncomfortable. But an increase of just two degrees will be disastrous – our glaciers will melt, cause massive flooding and destroy our ecosystem. In the process, hundreds of millions of people will suffer hunger and disease.
Climate change is not like fever. It’s like a slow poison, a condition that’s almost impossible to reverse. To fight the slow poison of climate change we must act now and act on a war footing. And we must act together. We must, as we say in Bhutan, “think and act as one!”
H.E. Dr. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson the President of Iceland said that the main ice covered areas of our planet are Antarctica, the Arctic and the Himalayas. Among these three prominent parts of our planet, the Himalayas and the Arctic share a fundamental characteristic. They are home to nations and communities, territories which share boundaries and economic interests, a history of military build-ups and potential conflicts.
He further added that they are in the 21st century the theatre where the interaction between people and ice is most complex in its composition and consequences, their future will be of monumental global significance.
And yet, cooperation, dialogue, and research on the Arctic and the Himalayan-Third Pole regions, are still, in its historical terms, in their early stages: a somewhat alarming state of affairs, since the clock of irreversible climate change is ticking ever faster, said the Grimsson.
Meanwhile, The Himalayan Third Pole Circle was an initiative of Grimsson. It is based on the similar challenges faced by the Arctic and the Himalaya-Third Pole regions, and learning from the historic scientific collaboration in the Arctic over 20 years ago between the eight Arctic countries, the Arctic Council was suggested as a possible model for the Himalaya-Third Pole region.
Her Royal Highness Princess Dechen Yangzom Wangchuck and Her Royal Highness Princess Kezang Choden Wangchuck graced the inauguration ceremony.