Mountain people add very little by way of emissions but bear the brunt of climate change, international development specialist David Molden has said.
"It has been established by a series of research studies that people in the mountains release very small amounts of green house gases. This doesn't cause the problem but mountain communities bear the burnt (of climate change)," Molden, who heads the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), told IANS in an interview.
Farmers in the mountains have been not only facing shortages of water for irrigation but are also fighting disease in their fields to save their crops for their livelihood, he said.
He noted in this context that people in the mountains of the Hindu Kush Himalayas feel the impact of climate change much more than those in the plains.
"Mountains in the Hindu Kush Himalayas region are more vulnerable to climate change.It is a fact that several changes are fast taking place due to this," Molden said.
"The global community is causing the problems and they should think seriously about helping poor communities of mountains to cope with climate change," he said.
"Water resources are important not only for the people living there but also for people outside the mountains. The mountains are important for the eco-system and bio-diversity. That is also changing with climate change and they need to be protected for the future," Molden noted.
But then, it's not only climate change. "We have many kinds of changes, besides climate change, like lots of migration, especially men to the cities," he said.
"Fewer people have been left to take care of mountains and globalization is eroding local culture. Globalization and climate change have an increasing influence on the future of fragile mountain ecosystems and the livelihood of the mountain people," he pointed out.
"So, all these changes, plus climate change, is really challenging the mountain people and the environment," the expert said.
In view of these changes, ICIMOD is stressing the need to adapt to future climatic scenarios.
"We are confident that with human resources and minds behind the problem, we can come up with good solutions," he said, lauding the Indian government's initiatives in this sphere.
"I am very much encouraged by the Indian government's response to the role of mountains in climate change. India has recently came up with a national mission to study the issue," he said.
(Imran Khan is in Kathmandu at the invitation of ICIMOD. He can be contacted at email@example.com)