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Central Asia is running out of time to mitigate the effects of climate change

Central Asia is running out of time to mitigate the effects of climate change

Without immediate, substantial action, climate change is projected to have major consequences not only on the economies of Central Asia, but also for regional stability and security.

Central Asia is currently experiencing a whole host of difficulties.

Recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, combating domestic extremism, and dealing with the spillover of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan all are major, pressing issues that each of the five nations in the region need to deal with.

However, all of these issues are overshadowed, and often exacerbated by the spectre of climate change.

Climate data shows that in Central Asia, like much of the world, average temperatures have been steadily and irreversibly increasing. In the past 30 years alone, temperatures have increased on average by 0.4 degrees Celsius each decade in Tajikistan, and 0.5 degrees Celsius per decade in Kyrgyzstan.

Future climate projections conducted by the World Bank predict that average annual temperatures in the region as a whole will likely rise around two degrees Celsius by 2050. By 2085, Tajikistan could see an increase of as much as 5.7 degrees Celsius.

This increase in temperature alone can have major knock-on effects for every country in the region – particularly in terms of internal and regional stability. The region is already home to the Aral Sea, one of the most iconic environmental catastrophes of the past century, whose waters have almost entirely disappeared.

Furthermore, overuse of water resources for rice and cotton cultivation, two particularly water-intensive crops which are widely grown in the region, has caused a 90 per cent reduction in water volume of the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers.

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