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UN calls on Iraq to take urgent climate action

The United Nations on Saturday called on Iraq to take “urgent climate action” as Baghdad is developing plans to combat climate threats to the country.

“Iraq is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. Urgent climate action is needed if we are to safeguard the environment for future generations,” read a joint statement from the UN mission in Iraq (UNAMI), Britain, France, and Italy as the 2020 Climate Action Ambition Summit launched on the fifth anniversary of the landmark Paris Agreement.

Iraq faces multiple climate threats, including water shortages, desertification, and rising temperatures. Despite these, Baghdad is just beginning to develop a climate strategy. In September, the parliament voted to accede to the Paris Agreement.

“Iraq is heading into a new era, planning on a paradigm shift toward more economic diversity; this includes support for renewable energies and access to environmentally friendly technologies,” said Iraq’s President Barham Salih at the virtual Climate Ambition Summit on Saturday.

In September, Iraq also launched a process to develop a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) to “reduce vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change,” in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Under the Paris Agreement, some 190 countries have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions with the goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.

Iraq’s plan is to support development of renewable energies, access to environmentally friendly technology, promote the role of youth and women in economic development, and the most vulnerable sectors of Iraqi society that are “particularly exposed to the impacts of climate change and economic fluctuation,” explained Salih.

Iraqis are feeling the effects of climate change. According to a 2020 report published by National Refugee Council, an estimated 15,000 new displacements in Thi-Qar, Missan and Basra were triggered by water shortages as of January 2019.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations called on leaders worldwide “to declare a state of climate emergency in their countries” until carbon neutrality is achieved.

“Carbon dioxide levels are at record high; today we are 1.2 degrees hotter than before the industrial revolution,” Guterres said at the summit on Saturday. “Can anyone still deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency?”

European Union leaders vowed to cut their net carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030, Charles Michel, president of the European Council, announced on Friday. Source