I often dream of owning an electric bike. In fact, I have expressed this interest with many of my friends and colleagues. But the response hasn’t been exciting! In fact, I have often been mocked with doubtful comments like ‘the technology is far from reach’, or ‘there are not enough charging stations’ or ‘It’s not suited to drive off-road’ etc. Of course, I am an optimist but those suspicions were concerning. Should I reconsider my priorities? I was confused!
Well, I have a long history with fossil fuel based vehicles. The noxious gases that they emit, used to turn me off. It used to make me vomit badly. Additionally, being an environmentalist I had to stand for what I advocate, Period.
But, this dream of owning an electric bike seemed even bleak as I learned that the government had raised a big tax on them. I was losing the thrill of it. It infuriated me and many environmentalists of the nation. Prashant Khanal, for the Kathmandu post, described this outcry as bourgeois environmentalism: that it’s just a superficial concern. He pointed out that whether the tax is raised or not, it made no sense for the majority of the people because, for these commoners, the electric vehicles are already out of grasp. And he points there can be more promising ways of demanding for emission regulation than nagging over the tax increase. I paused. To some extent it made sense. Maybe the outcry was unnecessary.
But still, in a world where the clean energy transition has been an imminent necessity, the action of the Nepal government seems misdirected. It was clearly commanding against science and earthly need. The nation may not have the technology, investments or manpower for production of vehicles that have negligible carbon footprints, but at least we could have made the transition easier. Placing hurdles and blockades in these necessities made many of us reconsider our priorities. The raise in tax has been demotivating for many of us.
Shall I still mourn over it? How could I turn helplessness into hopefulness? Are there stories of hope?
On 18th November, the British Government, led by Boris Johnson, raised an ambitious plan for the clean energy transition. Few weeks before the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, the British PM proposed to ban on new vehicles that are solely based on diesel or petrol in his nation by 2030. Meaning, the new vehicles made after 2030 need to install electric powering systems. It’s a big step and obviously a challenging one. Borish has pulled down that timeline by a decade with the previous target aimed for 2040. It enlightened me. It gave me hope.
Even bigger changes may be coming. Under the influence of leaders like Donald Trump, who openly labeled climate emergency as a hoax, it’s no wonder that third world nations like Nepal followed his footsteps. But in the recent American election, he has been dethroned. It gave me hope. Big hope. Boy, I was thrilled.
Insightful action plans implemented into policymaking are big. I am still anxious that in spite of the big threats of climate change upon our own nation, the Nepal government is still clueless on what we should aim for. The leaders have got no vision for this pressing need. But internationally, support is coming. The youth led climate emergency movements and big commitments from nations like Norway, Denmark, Britain, China and India gives me hope. So, it’s just a matter of time when its ripple effect guides turnover in Nepal’s climate policy as well. This gives me hope. Big hope. It looks like a good time to be excited for electric vehicles.
In tough and pressing situations like the pandemic management or for the climate emergency response, our leaders have shown their capability. If leaders do not show their vision in making policies and in mandating regulations, then leaders shall be dethroned. This has been true for America, so for Nepal as well.
So, no matter how desperate the situation gets, I urge you all to hope. Hope for a better future. When you dream, dream for change. Stand for change. You may not know, but your commitment might resonate with many folks. You might inspire a few hundreds more. In the face of adversity, let’s have unshakable hope. Like the legendary poet Laxmi Prasad Devkota said:
‘When you aim,
Aim to fly high
To touch the moon!’
[उधेश्य के लिनु, उडी छुनु चन्द्र एक]