Climate change is the world’s largest challenge which poses significant threats to global peace and security and threaten to backtrack progress to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The Paris Agreement on Climate Change marks a turning point to an emerging climate regime that brings all the states and the actors together to a new global platform to address the growing risks to peace and development. Actions under current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are inadequate to achieve Paris Agreement long-term goals of limiting global temperature rise well below 2 degrees °C above pre-industrial levels; and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C. The Paris Agreement calls upon countries to review their NDCs every five years and raise mitigation and adaptation ambitions to help put the world on track to achieve neutrality by 20250. In response to the SG’s call for raising level of ambition in 2020, UNDP launched a global initiative known as Climate Promise to support 100 countries scale up climate action under the Paris Agreement.
Iraq is among the seven Climate Promise countries in the Arab region with UNDP financial and technical support to help enhance NDC and raise adaptation and mitigation ambition on the road to COP26 in Glasgow. Iraq is a middle-income country with an economy dominated by oil export. Iraq also stands as one of the most climate hotspots and environmentally vulnerable with decades of protracted conflict, fragility, and dramatic escalation of displacement. Recent years have seen an increase in temperatures above 55 degree Celsius in parts of Iraq, and more intense and frequent drought spells, a decrease in the precipitation level by 50 percent, and higher evaporation rates. The recent waves of drought have triggered an increasing trend of rural displacement, and socio-ecological vulnerability. The reduction of water flow of Tigris River, and drought have accelerated land degradation and salinity of agriculture lands while also disrupted the ecosystems of Mesopotamian Marshlands which led to loss of livelihoods, expansion of poverty and social vulnerability.
Iraq is a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate change, with national climate plans defined in its first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC 2015), which reflects the country’s commitment to address vulnerability to climate risks while taking proactive actions to ensure gradual transition to a low-carbon economy. The first Iraq’s NDC includes BAU and Mitigation Scenarios with 14% GHG reduction target in 2035 including 1% non-conditional and 13% conditional. Sustainable energy actions including renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy access are among the major actions proposed under Iraq’s NDC to achieve commitments under Paris Agreement. The NDC also outlined a set of adaptation actions to help build resilience of the water and agricultural sectors. Despite the emerging developments of COVID-19, Iraq demonstrated firm commitment and momentum to move NDC revision process forward with first NDC inception workshop convened digitally in April 16, 2020. This study also shows momentum by Government of Iraq to proceed with NDC revision despite the challenging situation.