An article by Jihad Azour, Gareth Anderson, Ling Zhu that as published on November 6, 2022 notes that nearly all 32 countries in the Middle East and Central Asia have pledged to contain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as part of the Paris Agreement.  To meet these commitments, countries now need to urgently integrate climate policies into national economic strategies.   

“How Fiscal Policy Fiscal Policy Can Help Middle East, Central Asia Reduce Emissions”, in particular, estimates that countries in the Middle East and Central Asia have collectively pledged to reduce annual GHG emissions in 2030 by 13 percent to 21 percent, relative to the current trend, depending on the availability of external support.  This means that the region will need to reduce its per capita emissions by as much as 7 percent over the next eight years.  Only a few countries have reportedly achieved such a reduction while maintaining economic growth.

For the first, the region’s 2030 mitigation targets could be met through a gradual removal of fuel subsidies in addition to a phased introduction of a carbon tax of US$8.00 per ton of CO2 emissions in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, or MENAP, and US$4.00 per ton in the Caucasus and Central Asia, or CCA.

For the second, additional public investments in renewable energy of US$770 billion in MENAP and US$114 billion in the CCA—more than a fifth of the region’s current gross domestic product—between 2023 and 2030 could achieve the region’s emission reduction targets with fuel subsidies reduced only by two-thirds and without any carbon tax.

The authors estimate that net government debt in 2030 could rise by 12 percent of GDP in MENAP and 15 percent in the CCA. Thus, a smoother transition now could set future generations on a path of lower long-term growth.

The report from the Regional Dialogue on Carbon Pricing (REdiCAP) in Central Asia (February 25-26, 2021) notes that in Central Asia only Kazakhstan has implemented a carbon pricing instrument in the form of a domestic Emission Trading Scheme, or ETS.  Based on interviews by country participants at the REdiCAP, all other countries in Central Asia are reportedly now considering carbon pricing instruments at different levels in their institutions.   

An article by Gulim Abdi, Nurkhat Zhakiyev and Shynar Toilybayeva that was published on on April 14, 2023 says all Central Asian countries need to decarbonize their economies for sustainable growth and to meet their Paris Agreement goals.

“Decarbonization Opportunities and Emerging Carbon Pricing Instruments in Central Asia”, in particular, notes that setting a price on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, either directly through a carbon tax or indirectly through an emissions trading system (ETS), is one of the most important policy interventions for reducing GHG emissions.  Carbon pricing instruments (CPIs) can stimulate a transition to a low-carbon economy (UNFCCC 2021a), and CPIs are being rolled out around the world as effective policy tools.

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan reportedly have the largest carbon footprints among the Central Asian countries.  In total, the region emitted 710.5 million tons of CO2-equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2019, with Kazakhstan accounting for 55.7% (~396 MtCO2e), Uzbekistan 28.9% (~205 MtCO2e), Turkmenistan 12% (~85 MtCO2e), Kyrgyzstan 2.1% (~15 MtCO2e) and Tajikistan 1.3% (~9.5 MtCO2e).

Kazakhstan is the first (and to date the only) Central Asian country to have introduced a CPI.  This is in the form of a domestic emissions trading system (ETS) which was launched as a pilot in 2013 (CAREC 2021). All other Central Asian countries are currently considering carbon pricing tools at various institutional levels to cut emissions in accordance with their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), but the governments have not yet made any formal commitments to CPIs.

In Tajikistan, climate mitigation and adaptation actions are reflected in the National Development Strategy to 2030, adopted in 2019 and in the country’s medium-term development program for 2021–2025. Tajikistan submitted its first NDC under the Paris Agreement in 2017.

The article notes that compared to the 1990 baseline, GHG emissions in Tajikistan had decreased by 64.3% by 2014 and amounted to 9.1 MtCO2e.  This is largely due to the heavy utilization and expansion of hydropower, which replaced coal-fired power stations and as of 2020 accounted for 98% of the country’s electricity generation, with the emission reduction targets sum

Tajikistan’s carbon pricing scheme is reportedly in its early stages.  However, according to official publications, the country expects to develop the Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) legislative framework by 2025 and a pricing system by 2030.  In this regard, the country’s organizational, financial, informational and human capabilities are major barriers. Tajikistan will require international financial support to establish its MRV system and may encounter difficulty with data collection.