Regional conference linked to COP27 calls on all Central Asian states to join forces in developing a sound balance between climate change mitigation and adaptation
Date: March 3, 2023
Countries: Central Asia
Keywords: Climate Change Central Asia

The Central Asian region is the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. The common problems of all five countries will be melting glaciers and decreasing surface water runoff, that is, rivers’ water that flows over the soil surface into the lakes, says Andrey Podrezov, Head of the Department of Meteorology, Ecology and Environmental Protection at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University. This situation will lead to problems with drinking water access, biodiversity, agriculture, animal breeding, and the economy in general.

The glaciers located in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are the biggest water reserve in the region. From there, the water flows downstream to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan.

According to Podrezov, in 2000, the volume of glaciers in Kyrgyzstan was about 418 cubic kilometres. Since 1960, the glaciers have been melting at a rate of about 1% every year.

“From a worst-case scenario, by 2100, almost 90% of our glaciers will disappear. According to the moderate scenario, it is about 50-60%. This can lead to a decrease in the surface runoff by about 40%, which is a lot,” the expert notes.

The situation is not much better in Tajikistan. According to the results of the assessment of the global climate change impact on glaciers, since 1930, the total area of glaciers in the country has decreased by about 30%.

“Water scarcity will change all areas of human activity, from agriculture to urbanisation. Such problems will affect all Central Asian countries. The first disputes caused by the direct consequences of climate change will be the disputes over water resources,” says Podrezov.

In addition, Tajik ecologist Hasan Asoev notes that the region faces six environmental threats.

“These are the problems of the Aral Sea drying up, the loss of biodiversity or the disappearance of local flora and fauna, degradation of ecosystems, desertification, climate change processes, and water pollution,” says Asoev.

The total greenhouse gas emissions of all five Central Asian countries are 470.47 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is approximately 1% of the global emissions.

In 2015, during the 21st session of the UN Climate Change Conference, all countries adopted the Paris Agreement. This is the first legally binding international treaty that has united the countries to fight and adapt to climate change. The goal of the Agreement is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise to 2°C during this century.

Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan were the first of the Central Asian countries to ratify the Agreement in 2016. Tajikistan ratified it in 2017, Uzbekistan – in 2018, and Kyrgyzstan – in 2019.

The key aspects of the Paris Agreement include the following tasks:

  • to limit the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C;
  • to conserve and increase the forest area for the absorption of greenhouse gases;
  • to accelerate the development and international exchange of clean technologies;
  • carbon neutrality by 2050: in the second half of the 21st century it is necessary to strike a balance between greenhouse gas emissions and removals;
  • every 5 years, the countries should revise the goals and measures to counter climate change
  • the developed countries should donate at least $100 billion to developing countries to adapt to climate change by 2020.
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