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Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a landlocked, mountainous central Asian country. It is bordered by Pakistan to the east, Iran to the west, China in the northeast, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north. It is as big as France or Kenya.


The country’s climate is arid for the most part, but it holds large reserves of water thanks to its immense ice and snow reserves. The majority of Afghans are Pashtuns, an ethnicity organised in a vast tribal structure spread over the Indian Kush mountain range. Afghan’s recent history is tightly linked to international affairs. Its strategic position on the silk road made it a centre stage for conflicts between the great powers throughout history. 


The capital Kabul is the political and economic centre of the country, even if large parts of the territory are or have been controlled by armed groups. The most infamous of these armed groups, the Taliban, held power from 1996 to 2001. Since the American military intervention in 2001, the country has tried to regain control of tribal lands, still run by a myriad of connected and rival groups. In 2014, Afghanistan successfully organised democratic elections which the armed rebel forces failed to destabilise. That was a major setback for terrorism and a major step towards peace in this country.


Afghanistan has been called the graveyard of empires for its resistance to capture and control. From the Mongols to the Americans, thousands have tried, few have retained their power. There is one powerful enemy though. Climate change has already attacked this ancestral land that conceals some of the greatest natural treasures in the world. 


Recent droughts in Afghanistan have already affected 2.2 million people and displaced 260,000, more than the entire war against the Taliban. This provides an idea of how much more suffering nature can cause if we fail to keep our planet within its planetary boundaries. Afghanistan is not alone in this fight. We can do better, and more.


TOTAL POPULATION

32.8 million YEAR 2014

CO2 EMISSIONS

9,800 kt COUNTRY, YEAR 2014

2,516,400 kt South Asia, YEAR 2014

“A 13.6% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to a business as usual scenario”


PARIS AGREEMENT TARGET

Created by potrace 1.10, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2011

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CLIMATE SIGNIFICANCE

Afghanistan’s average temperature has risen by 0.6°C since 1960, faster than the global average. In a context of civil war and protracted conflict, Afghanistan has had little time to put into the conservation of its natural resources. However, the same resources provide the basic livelihood basis for more than 80% of the Afghan population. 

Afghanistan's predominantly arid climate stresses the importance of wetlands to the local biodiversity. As of 2018, there are no more protected lands in Afghanistan and only 5% of the former tree cover still remains. However, a large portion of the territory is naturally protected by the impenetrable mountain ranges that prohibit significant human development or exploitation. 

In a country whose main economic activities are agricultural, variations in climate and weather events are of real importance. The water stock of the Hindu Kush mountains in the form of ice and snow caps used to provide water for as many as 300 million people in the region. The “water tower of Asia” is now facing a severe water crisis, due to the melting of these resources and the almost-total destruction of water infrastructures. Today, only about 27% of Afghans have access to clean water. The providing of basic resources for heating, cooking and feeding will be essential in the fight against the loss of valuable ecosystems in Afghanistan. 

Less abundant snowfall and accelerated spring melt has caused both more droughts and more floods. These changes have led numerous rural herders and farmers to move to cities to take on unqualified work. Kabul is actually the fifth fastest growing city in the world. This phenomenon has sparked protests and a feeling of social injustice in Afghan cities.

What happens in Afghanistan, whose national and international context blur, has local, regional and global consequences. The current situation in Afghanistan is a prime example of the intersection between climate change, politics, international affairs and socioeconomic development. With time, strength and help, Afghanistan will build the peace and fair progress it needs.


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DATA INSIGHTS

The World Bank classification categorises Afghanistan as a low-income country. To understand Afghanistan’s situation in the fight against climate change, it is helpful to show its historic carbon emissions and exposure to climate risk. The graphs provide an overview of this country’s greenhouse gas emissions in perspective with global emission, as well as the country’s relative vulnerability and preparedness to climate change.

Afghanistan Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Afghanistan’s timeline of total GHG emissions and the percentage change from 1990

This plot combines 3 pieces of information measured from 1990 - 2012: The bar chart indicates the volume of the country’s GHG emissions, the full line shows the variation of this volume compared to the baseline 1990, and the dotted line presents the same variation, but globally.


Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and fluorocarbons are the main drivers of global warming. Between 1990 and 2012, the world’s emissions grew by 40%.

From 1990 to 2008, Afghanistan’s emissions increased by 22%. The main driver for this increase was agricultural emissions growth. Overall, Afghanistan’s GHG emissions have increased by 44% between 1990 and 2012. In the year 2014, the agriculture sector (42%) served as the predominant source of GHG emissions in Afghanistan. The country doubled its agriculture emissions from 1990 to 2012. Most agriculture emissions come from livestock digestion and manure left on pasture. 


Despite experiencing growth in emissions, Afghanistan represents only a small portion to 2012 GHG emissions in Asia. As traditional agricultural practices account for the majority of Afghanistan’s emissions, it should be key areas of focus to reduce the country’s emissions. (Source: WRI, 2018; World Bank, 2018)


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Afghanistan Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Afghanistan’s timeline of total GHG emissions and the percentage change from 1990

graph

This plot combines 3 pieces of information measured from 1990 - 2012: The bar chart indicates the volume of the country’s GHG emissions, the full line shows the variation of this volume compared to the baseline 1990, and the dotted line presents the same variation, but globally.


Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and fluorocarbons are the main drivers of global warming. Between 1990 and 2012, the world’s emissions grew by 40%.

From 1990 to 2008, Afghanistan’s emissions increased by 22%. The main driver for this increase was agricultural emissions growth. Overall, Afghanistan’s GHG emissions have increased by 44% between 1990 and 2012. In the year 2014, the agriculture sector (42%) served as the predominant source of GHG emissions in Afghanistan. The country doubled its agriculture emissions from 1990 to 2012. Most agriculture emissions come from livestock digestion and manure left on pasture. 


Despite experiencing growth in emissions, Afghanistan represents only a small portion to 2012 GHG emissions in Asia. As traditional agricultural practices account for the majority of Afghanistan’s emissions, it should be key areas of focus to reduce the country’s emissions. (Source: WRI, 2018; World Bank, 2018)


Afghanistan Climate Vulnerability and Readiness (CVRI)

Afghanistan’s vulnerability and readiness to combat climate change

This graph ranks a country’s climate performance by measuring its readiness (x-axis) and its vulnerability (y-axis). Both are measured from 0 - 1 (1 being the most ready or most vulnerable). This index combines indicators of a country’s exposure to climate change and others that measure the country’s potential to withstand those shocks. 


Each dot in this plot represents a country. The countries in most urgent situations are on the top left of the graph whilst the most resilient ones stand at the bottom right.


Afghanistan is categorised as a country with high vulnerability to climate change impacts and a low level of adaptation capacity. Rice and wheat production are expected to decline significantly under projected climate change. The decrease in precipitation will lead to longer drought periods, diminishing the agricultural capacity and food security of the country. A rise in temperature due to climate change will also increase the vulnerability of forests and biodiversity in the territory. (Source: ND-GAIN, 2018)


The impacts of climate change vary by country and region. But wherever you are, local-level adaptation projects are necessary. You have all the cards in hand, now go explore our live projects and be one of the good guys. 


TAKE ACTION

Afghanistan Climate Vulnerability and Readiness (CVRI)

Afghanistan’s vulnerability and readiness to combat climate change

graph

This graph ranks a country’s climate performance by measuring its readiness (x-axis) and its vulnerability (y-axis). Both are measured from 0 - 1 (1 being the most ready or most vulnerable). This index combines indicators of a country’s exposure to climate change and others that measure the country’s potential to withstand those shocks. 


Each dot in this plot represents a country. The countries in most urgent situations are on the top left of the graph whilst the most resilient ones stand at the bottom right.


Afghanistan is categorised as a country with high vulnerability to climate change impacts and a low level of adaptation capacity. Rice and wheat production are expected to decline significantly under projected climate change. The decrease in precipitation will lead to longer drought periods, diminishing the agricultural capacity and food security of the country. A rise in temperature due to climate change will also increase the vulnerability of forests and biodiversity in the territory. (Source: ND-GAIN, 2018)


The impacts of climate change vary by country and region. But wherever you are, local-level adaptation projects are necessary. You have all the cards in hand, now go explore our live projects and be one of the good guys. 


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