‘Green New Deal’ and its relevance to Nepal’s environment, economy and politics

The concept of the Green New Deal has made waves in recent global politics, particularly in the United States. Proposed as a comprehensive policy framework to tackle climate change while addressing economic inequality, it has garnered both support and criticism. As Nepal faces its own environmental challenges, unstable political dynamics, and economic downturn, exploring the relevance of the Green New Deal to the country becomes crucial.

The New Deal, implemented in the United States in the 1930s, was a series of policies and programs introduced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to address economic inequalities resulting from the Great Economic Depression of the late 1920s, when social welfarism was in the brink of extinction. This New Deal was instrumental in creating employment in environmental conservation projects and public/humanitarian projects.

Borrowing from this, The Green New Deal originated in the United States, championed by top progressive political figures like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It seeks to transition to renewable energy, create green jobs, and invest in sustainable infrastructure. Its emergence has had significant implications on US politics, sparking intense debates between progressive and conservative factions. Critics argue that its ambitious goals may be costly and unrealistic, while supporters emphasize the urgency of addressing climate change.

The relevance of the Green New Deal is undeniable, especially in the face of pressing climate change issues. Nepal, as a mountainous country highly vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, experiences melting glaciers, erratic rainfall patterns, and increased climate induced disasters. The Green New Deal’s emphasis on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable practices aligns with Nepal’s need to mitigate climate risks and build resilience.

The Green New Deal draws inspiration from the concepts of the green economy and circular economy. By promoting renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, it fosters a shift towards cleaner and more sustainable economic practices. Similarly, the circular economy principles of reducing waste, reusing resources, and recycling align with the Green New Deal’s objective of minimizing environmental impact and creating a sustainable future.

By embracing renewable energy, sustainable infrastructure, and green job creation, Nepal can shape its future while contributing to global efforts in combating climate change.

Nepal’s economy heavily relies on sectors like hydropower, agriculture, and tourism, all of which are vulnerable to climate change. Embracing the principles of the Green New Deal could enhance Nepal’s sustainable development, create green jobs, and reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Implementing renewable energy projects, upgrading infrastructure for energy efficiency, and promoting sustainable agriculture would not only address climate challenges but also foster economic growth and social justice.

Data from the Nepal Renewable Energy Program shows that 32% of Nepal’s energy comes from renewable sources. With adequate support and investment, this figure can be significantly increased, creating a more sustainable energy mix. Furthermore, adopting energy-efficient technologies in industries and buildings can reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate risks.

To implement this concept in Nepal, policymakers, stakeholders, and the government must prioritize several key parameters. Firstly, robust policy frameworks, regulations, and incentives should be established to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable practices. Secondly, investments in research and development, as well as technology transfer, are vital for innovation and the adoption of green technologies. Additionally, promoting public-private partnerships and international collaborations can facilitate the necessary funding and expertise.

Implementing the principles of the Green New Deal in Nepal would require a comprehensive set of policy proposals tailored to the specific needs and priorities of the country. Some achievable activities would be

  • Introducing policies and incentives to accelerate the development and deployment of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower.
  • Encouraging the adoption of energy-efficient technologies and practices through financial incentives, public awareness campaigns, and capacity-building programs.
  • Enforcing stricter building codes and regulations that prioritize energy efficiency and sustainable construction practices.
  • Developing policies and programs that encourage sustainable agricultural practices, such as organic farming, agroforestry, and water conservation techniques while providing training, access to finance, and market support for farmers adopting sustainable methods.
  • Encouraging resource efficiency and waste reduction by promoting recycling, composting, and waste-to-energy conversion and establishing policies to incentivize businesses to adopt circular economy practices and support the development of recycling infrastructure.
  • Investing in training programs and vocational education to develop a skilled workforce for the green economy by Facilitating the creation of green jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture, and environmental management sectors.
  • Allocating resources for research and development in clean technologies, renewable energy, and sustainable practices in collaborations with universities, research institutions, and private enterprises to drive innovation.
  • Strengthening environmental regulations, monitoring, and enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with sustainable practices.
  • Seeking international collaborations, partnerships, and financial support to implement green initiatives while engaging in knowledge sharing and capacity-building programs with countries that have successfully implemented green policies.

In conclusion, the Green New Deal offers a promising pathway for Nepal to address climate change, promote sustainable development, and mitigate environmental risks. By embracing renewable energy, sustainable infrastructure, and green job creation, Nepal can shape its future while contributing to global efforts in combating climate change. The time has come for Nepali policymakers, stakeholders, and the government to seize this opportunity and embark on a transformative journey towards a greener and more sustainable future.

(Gomesh Singh Upreti is Co-founder and Executive President of Bighnaharta Nepal.)