By Adam Lucente for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqis face record-breaking heat, electricity cuts

Iraqis are contending with record-breaking temperatures and a poorly functioning electricity system as a heat wave sweeps across the country.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, recorded an all-time high temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51.7 Celsius), according to the weather forecasting service AccuWeather.

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Iraq is committed in its efforts to achieve climate security. Mitigation efforts, employing local and international resources, that ensure food and water security are met and are a priority for the government due to them being major effects of climate change. This was stated at the stakeholders consultation on Iraq’s nationally determined contributions to the UNFCCC stakeholders’.

In Collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Environment, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized a two-day workshop attended by senior-level representatives from the Ministry of Oil, Ministry of Electricity, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Reconstruction and Municipalities and Baghdad Mayorality. In addition to Leading and research NGOs, including the National Center for Climate Change and the Centre of Earthquake Prediction.

Deputy Minister of Health and Environment, Dr. Jassim Al Fallahi highlighted the progress on Nationally Determined Contributions  (NDCs) that is critical for effective follow up of the implementation of the Climate Agreement signed at the 2015 Paris Summit. Saying: “The sacrifices of the youth that had made Iraq secure today would not be allowed to go in vain. we are committed to redoubling our reconstruction efforts that are fully sustainable. Several Ministries have lined up projects that are designed to reduce emissions from their inception”. Said Mr. Al Fallahi.

UNDP Country Director a.i, Mr. Gerado Noto, said “The collaboration and partnership amongst Iraqi institutions in the development of the NDCs is a clear signal that Iraq is serious in responding to the global call of action, for addressing the cause of climate change”. Adding that: “Environment protection is core to UNDP’s development mandate. UNDP plays a strong role in forging connections between development and environmental sustainability, for achieving the sustainable development goals”.

UNDP is also engaged in supporting Iraq by implementing the first full-size Global Environment Facility GEF project on Catalyzing the Use of Solar Photovoltaic Energy in Iraq. The objective is to reduce Green House Gas emissions, by catalyzing the application of distributed solar power, to meet the energy needs of small businesses, residences, and small-town services.

(Source: UN)

Iraq Sets up National Authority to Mobilize Global Climate Finance, Manage Environment and Climate Change Challenges

On June 2018, Iraq has established a high-powered National Designated Authority to help mobilize global climate funding in support of dealing with pressures imposed by a range of environmental and climate change-related issues.

This was announced by the Iraqi Deputy Minister for Health and Environment, Dr. Jassim Abdul Aziz, at a high-level workshop on Iraq’s Green Climate Fund Readiness held in Amman this month.

With grant assistance from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Government of Iraq has embarked on a national readiness programme for a period of two years during 2018-2019.

UNDP Iraq will serve as a delivery partner for this grant assistance that aims to support the Government of Iraq in strengthening the national capacities to effectively access and efficiently manage, track and guide climate financing with particular attention to the requirement of Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Water insecurity, land degradation, desertification, loss of vegetation and biodiversity and salinity form part of the complex challenges that Iraq faces, posing significant obstacles for the country to mount a resilient recovery following decades of conflict.

The Government of Iraq has formulated an economy-wide plan to cut GHG emission by around 14% between 2020 until 2035. However, Iraq is also facing a huge economic challenge as a result of the collapse in the international oil market in 2015 and its very significant impact on the national economy.

Guided by Iraq’s national development plan, policies and priorities, the readiness programme will include the preparatory activities that include establishing a National Designated Authority (NDA) in Iraq under the leadership by the GCF Focal Point.

Strengthening stakeholders’ engagement and effective participation, and assisting Iraq in developing a gender- responsive country programme including climate change adaptation and mitigation priorities are some of the core objectives of the readiness programme.

The accomplishment of readiness activities will lay the foundation for Iraq to kick-start concrete steps towards meeting the need for climate financing in an effective and coordinated way.

The three-day workshop, attended by the Iraqi Ambassador in Jordan (Safia Al Sauhail), the Iraqi deputy minister of Health and Environment Dr. Jassim Al Falahy, and by an inter-ministerial group comprising several heads of Iraqi government institutions, took stock of Iraq’s readiness for GCF and the roles and responsibilities of the associated the National Designated Authority.

Participants at the workshop agreed on the steps to be taken for the implementation of a roadmap for Nationally Determined Contributions consistent with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) guidelines.

(Source: UNDP)

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

To fight climate change in Basra, where summer temperatures now regularly rise to over 50 degrees Centigrade, locals plan to plant 16 million trees. The volunteers are on course for 1 million in 2017.

In the southern Iraqi city of Basra, locals are taking matters into their own hands to fight climate change. “In recent years temperatures in Basra have exceeded 50 degrees Centigrade,” explains Alaa Hashim al-Badran, head of the union of agricultural engineers in Basra. “And that is dangerous.”

The ramifications of ongoing climate change mean that the city and its inhabitants may face even higher temperatures in the future. To try and ameliorate the impact, locals have started planting trees. They intend to have planted a million of them shortly, and 16 million in the next few years.

Al-Badran says the idea for a tree-planting campaign was first suggested in the middle of the year and has since progressed rapidly. There are a hundred volunteers and over 15,000 supporters online, he notes, and in the near future, there should be even more people involved.

Citing the example of successful tree planting in Gulf Arab countries, al-Badran and his colleagues believe this may be one of the only ways to prevent Basra from deadly over-heating.



“Over the next few years we plan to plant 16 million trees here,” he told NIQASH. “The first phase starts in September and goes until mid-November. Then we will start again in mid-February and carry on until mid-April next year. The first objective is to plant 1 million trees.”

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Iraq faces many threats to its environment, not the least of which are apathy, a lack of education and a need for cooperation from other countries.

“Iraq is in dire need of environmental awareness. Environmental education is absent among the Iraqi people, whose dangerous behaviors are majorly affecting the environment,” Nader Abdallah, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Babylon, told Al-Monitor.

Iraqi environmentalist Ibrahim Ramzi also noted how the bad behavior of citizens and businesses adds to the problem of pollution. He referred Al-Monitor to an article he wrote in January in which he noted “the disastrous levels of pollution in Iraq’s rivers, resulting from the deadly sewage flowing into the water and waste piling up on their banks.”

Al-Monitor took a tour around the banks of Shatt al-Hilla in Babil province, only to find that the river had been turned into a landfill for household and industrial waste.

A lack of water is at the center of many of Iraq’s problems. Iraqi Minister of Health and Environment Adila Hammoud headed a meeting Nov. 30 with a group of environmentalists and academics to address the serious dangers that threaten Iraq’s marshes, which could lead to the death of their aquatic ecosystems.

Another effect of climate change is the drought of water bodies in southern Iraq, an area of over 16,000 square kilometers (6,177 square miles). The province of Basra, which had become known as the Venice of the Middle East, suffers from drought in its water channels.

Ahmed Abd, a biology professor at the University of Qadisiyah, told Al-Monitor that while drought contributes to the problem, as does global warming, there is only so much Iraq can do about either. The country signed the Paris Agreement on climate change in December 2015, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15% between 2020 and 2035, the equivalent of 90 million tons of carbon dioxide.

However, “The country does not have such a large number of industrial facilities or power plants, as is the case in industrialized countries, and the rates of fuel combustion in Iraq are much less than those of said countries,” he said.

Still, Abd added, “Iraq needs to focus on reducing the high temperatures, because of the drought that hit many regions, and it should demand foreign countries to pressure Turkey and Syria into amending their unfair policies toward Iraq’s water.”

The policies Abd is referring to are the dozens of dams set up by Turkey on the Euphrates River and its tributaries, which led to a clear water scarcity in the river, threatening agriculture as well as fisheries, and resulted in an Iraqi water deficit of about 23 billion cubic meters (6 trillion gallons) annually. In addition, Syria has established dams on the Euphrates River, reducing Iraq’s share of the water.

Amer Habib, a professor and researcher in agricultural sciences working for the Ministry of Agriculture, spoke with Al-Monitor about another serious problem: silt and sediment buildup in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and their main tributaries. Habib said a lack of regular dredging has also increased the sediment in Shatt al-Arab (River of the Arabs) in southern Iraq, formed by the convergence of the Tigris and Euphrates.

Habib also pointed to a deadly, but less-often-cited, environmental danger. “The most important climate change factors in Iraq are the wars, which Iraq should address at climate conferences and urge the countries that took part in those wars, particularly the United States and United Kingdom, to help Iraq in terms of experience and techniques, and even financially, to save it from the devastating environmental effects caused by military vehicles, battles and the remnants of destructive weapons.”

British inquiry revealed by The Guardian on Aug. 22, 2015, corroborates Habib’s point of view, noting that some of the climatic change taking place in Iraq has been caused by more than three decades of war, starting with the Iran-Iraq War in 1980, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the war to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Siham Moussa, a member of the Health Committee in the Iraqi parliament, encouraged educational events that stress the importance of a clean environment, such as one held April 24 in Baghdad by the Green Climate Organization.

“Iraq’s participation in the climate conferences in Paris and Marrakech allows us to learn from the experiences of developed countries with environment-friendly economic and industrial systems,” she said. “Oil refineries, power and telephones towers, as well as industrial waste and the remnants of war are all negative factors that contribute to climate change in Iraq.”

Meanwhile, Iraq’s government and citizens seem barely concerned with climate change. This makes it imperative for the government to include the cost for climate change solutions in government spending, particularly since it has not made financial allocations in its budgets to solve environmental issues since 2003.