Climate Risks in Central Asia
Pick Somoni 7 495m, the 3rd highest pick in the world. Photo: centralasia-travel.com
An historical moment, The Conference of 21 Parties (UNFCCC), is coming nearer and nearer. In December 2015, climate leaders and decision makers will meet in Paris at the 21st Conference of the Parties (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change). Countries should submit their INDC by October 2015, outlining plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; the document will come into force in 2020.
Several countries and regional organizations, including Norway, Scotland and the E.U., have already submitted their INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution). Organizers hope this will motivate additional countries to submit their INDC by the October 2015 deadline.
In the past, the official delegation of Tajikistan actively participated in the Conference of Parties. In December 2012, at the Conference of Parties 18, the official delegation of Tajikistan represented landlocked mountainous countries and advocated for increased awareness about the rise of global warming temperature by 2 degrees Celsius; they also called for a second period of the Kyoto Protocol.
Tajikistan still did not submit its INDC. Climate activists hope that Tajikistan will submit this historical document in October 2015.
Loss of glaciers in Tajikistan
Tajikistan is the most vulnerable country in the Central Asia region in terms of the impact of climate change.
Glaciers are the main source not only of clean drinking water in the region, but the most important resources for hydro power stations as well. According to the Hydrometcenter of RT, Fedchenko is the biggest glacier in Central Asia, the length of the glacier is 70 km, with a width of 2 km. At least 8000 glaciers cover 6 % of the territory of Tajikistan. Also, there are 947 rivers with a total length of 28,500 km. In the past 70-100 years, however, Tajikistan lost over 30 % of its glaciers. In the past 50 years in the Murghab district, the glaciers melted by 40%. In the next 30-40 years, the glaciers will be lost at an even more rapid rate than in the past 60-70 years.
Glaciers are the main source of clean water in the Central Asia region. Unfortunately, the irresponsible use of water resources in the agriculture sector of Uzbekistan, the second largest exporter of cotton in the world, as well as the disappearance of the Aral Sea, may lead to unexpected and unknown consequences for the vulnerable CA region.
According to a member of the Committee on Environmental Protection Agency, Anvar Khamidov: —“Darwaz, Muminobod, Hamadoni, Jirgital and Panjakent districts are the most dangerous and vulnerable, as they are influenced by climate change. More than 300 thousand people live in these areas”.
As was reported in the National Adaptation Plan of RT, in 1991the annual CO2 emissions of Tajikistan reached 22.6 million tones, but after the civil war emission levels decreased 10-fold. Currently, Tajikistan has 40 coal fields and 18 oil fields. The annual coal production is 15-20,000 tons per year. The total coal reserves are currently 4.5 billion tons.
At the same time, we cannot forget about countries that are in the region with Tajikistan; emissions from China and India negatively effect Tajik glaciers.
According to unofficial sources, emissions from vehicles in Tajikistan reach 160,000 tons CO2 in summer period. We can observe an abundance of smog above Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.
As already mentioned above, Tajikistan is the richest country in terms of water resources; 81 billion cubic meters of water pass through the major rivers of Tajikistan annually, enriching the rivers flowing through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and other countries of the region. Approximately 96% of the electricity produced in the country is from Hydro Power Stations. The water potential of the country allows it to provide the region with electricity from the Hydro Power Stations without CO2 emission, at a cheaper rate than alternative energy sources.
As reported by the Hydromet Center of Tajikistan (HCT) and the Committee on Environmental Protection, several large hydropower stations are producing energy at a total capacity of 4986 megawatts in Tajikistan.
Nurek Dam, Tajikistan
The average annual generation of electricity from a HPS is 16.5 billion kWh (4.5% of the potential reserves). Also, there’re 280-330 sunny days a year. This means that Tajikistan has great potential for clean energy in the region”. — Hydromet Center RT
Tajikistan has great potential prospects for developing clean energy, and a chance to cut 30-50% GHG (greenhouse gas) from 1990 levels by 2030. Moreover, Tajikistan can play a key role in the region on climate change issues and could be a good example for other Central Asia countries.
Climate leaders (diction makers), from all over the world should find the strength to ensure the safe future for humankind –by signing a new global commitment.