The World is Ignoring Afghanistan’s Climate Investment Needs • Watts Up With That?

Essay by Eric Worrall

According to The Diplomat, restarting climate finance for Afghanistan will help Afghan people and will also help moderate the brutality of the Taliban.

Afghanistan Left out of Global Climate Change Conversation 

Afghanistan under the Taliban was once again shunned from the COP28 climate change conference.

By Shanthie Mariet D’Souza
December 19, 2023

On September 23, 2020, then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, speaking to the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, identified “five sources of unrest”’ in Afghanistan. Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, haphazard industrialization, rampant inequality, and the violence perpetrated by the Taliban, Ghani identified climate change as a source of violence and suffering in Afghanistan. Terming Afghanistan as the 17th worst-affected country, recurrently ravaged by seasonal floods and drought, Ghani called for “regional solutions based on international models” to address the problem of climate change. 

Before the Taliban takeover, the NEPA had prepared a national climate action plan and emissions inventory. No new agency has been set up to replace the NWARA, nor has the Taliban regime provided any indication about measures it will take for mitigating the impacts of climate change and enacting water governance. None of these, including the promotion of clean energy, is a priority for the Islamic Emirate, which hopes to rule the country under Shariah, or Islamic law. Worse still, media reports have indicated that cash-strapped and cut off from international aid, the Taliban-led government is tapping into the country’s coal mines to boost revenue.

Afghanistan needs urgent help to deal with the growing climate threats and vulnerabilities. In simple terms, it translates to the international community providing financial assistance and engaging with the Taliban regime in a bid to enhance its capacity to help tackle the challenges of climate change impacting the conflict-ridden country. Such engagement does run the risk of the Taliban using it as a source of legitimization. However, an assessment of the international community’s approach to isolating the Taliban in the past two years isn’t studded with much success. A change of approach in the realm of climate change threats and action by restarting the stalled projects and greater civic engagement, to begin with, can save millions of lives and could also bring about a modicum of moderation within the ranks of the Taliban. 

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There is no reason to assume giving money to the Taliban would help people in Afghanistan and moderate the brutality of the Taliban government. The Taliban appear to be a group who see common prosperity and human rights as corruption and apostasy. Giving them climate money would just help them buy more guns.


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