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How inaction on climate change can worsen the crisis in Afghanistan

How inaction on climate change can worsen the crisis in Afghanistan

Everything is at stake for Afghanistan at this year’s UN climate conference.

After decades of foreign intervention and violent conflict, the American mission in Afghanistan has ended and the Taliban have announced a new government. But for millions of Afghans, human-induced climate change has only magnified the strife.

Most of Afghanistan is dry and hot for much of the year, and from 1950 to 2010, the landlocked country warmed 1.8 degrees Celsius — about twice the global average, but it is only responsible for a tiny fraction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The combined impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, war, and prolonged drought threaten millions of Afghans with food insecurity. Although rainfall in Afghanistan has long varied, certain farming regions in the east, north, and central highlands are seeing up to 40 percent less rain during the spring, when the largely rain-fed crops will need water most. A majority of Afghans earn some income from farming.

To avoid the most devastating impacts for Afghanistan, experts have stressed that the US and the international community must commit to deeper cuts to carbon emissions and help developed countries to become more resilient in the face of environmental calamities.

At the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this November, nearly 200 world governments have the chance to make good on their commitments to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, in line with the 2016 Paris climate agreement. Developing countries are already asking some of the world’s top economies to further slash emissions, and to provide financial help with adapting to climate change and transitioning to clean energy through mechanisms like the Green Climate Fund.

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