Author: Emma Batha

Here's why climate change in Afghanistan has global repercussions

Source(s): Context
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Severe droughts are exacerbating Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis, but funding for climate change adaptation is frozen. Afghanistan is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, with worsening droughts and flash flooding destroying livelihoods and fuelling hunger. However, the Taliban's seizure of the country in 2021 means it has been excluded from global climate change talks and will not be represented at the COP28 summit starting in Dubai on Thursday.

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Afghanistan is one of the lowest producers of planet-heating fossil fuel emissions, accounting for less than 1% of the global total. But it is also one of the countries most vulnerable to the destructive impacts of climate change. Its average annual temperature increased by 1.8 degrees Celsius between 1950 and 2010, about twice the global average, according to Afghanistan's National Environmental Protection Agency. The largest rise was in the south (2.4 degrees Celsius). Drought affects 25 out of 34 provinces in the country, where around 80% of people depend on agriculture for a living and it accounts for more than 30% of gross domestic product.  Changing weather patterns and rising temperatures not only affect rainfall, but also the melting of snowpack and glaciers in Afghanistan's mountains that keep rivers flowing and fields watered during the spring and summer.

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Afghanistan's climate crisis, if not adequately dealt with, could drive mass migration to neighbouring countries and onwards to Europe, according to security experts. There are also fears it could impact water availability in countries downstream from Afghanistan potentially stoking tensions. Afghanistan shares river systems with Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Afghanistan's climate plan estimates it needs $20.6 billion to fund climate adaptation and emission-cutting initiatives between 2021 and 2030. But donors froze development aid when the Taliban grabbed power in August 2021. International sanctions are unlikely to be eased due to concerns over the Taliban's human rights record and treatment of women.The Taliban have strongly criticised their exclusion from COP28 and previous summits, saying climate change is a global challenge that must be separated from politics.

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Hazards Drought
Country and region Afghanistan
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