How Russia’s war and climate change are causing a humanitarian crisis in Central Asia

Old rotting ship in the ship graveyard in the Uzbek desert near Moynak or Muynak due to climate change – Aral Sea, Uzbekistan, Central Asia – date unknown (Ann Ritter/ Shutterstock)

By Jack Evans

Climate change in Central Asia has caused a domino effect of disastrous developments in the region.

While climate change affects all people and all regions, the temperature in Central Asia has been increasing at an accelerated rate compared to other regions of the world. This has led to droughts, food insecurity and human migration as areas of Central Asia became more inhospitable.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated these dire issues.

Central Asia’s economy has been strained due to its loss of agricultural lands and the influx of Russians who have fled to escape conscription. Additionally, the sanctions placed upon Russia by the West-led coalition have accelerated the humanitarian crisis even more as countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are reliant upon trade with Russia, making it even more difficult to deal with the ramifications of climate change in the region.

These harmful effects are not limited to the Central Asian region.

According to the World Bank, half of the top 20 producers of greenhouse gases come from Central Asia. While these countries have made commitments to decrease greenhouse gas production, the World Bank readily acknowledges that many of these countries lack the structural, institutional, and economic progress to implement these changes.

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