Iraq is hoping to get $10 billion from a global fund to combat climate change, the acting environment minister told Rudaw on Friday, adding that Baghdad is working to diversify its economy away from oil as the world tries to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. 

“When we ratified the Paris agreement, we blamed the major industrialized countries, which bear historical responsibility for the emergence of global warming as they are responsible for the increase in carbon emissions that led to combustion. Therefore, an important fund – known as Green Climate Fund – was established,” Jassim al-Falahi, acting minister of the environment, who is part of the Iraqi delegation to the 26th United Nations Global Climate Summit in Glasgow, told Rudaw’s Bakhtyar Abdulaziz on Friday.

“The major industrial countries pledged to finance it with $100 billion annually to be paid to developing and underdeveloped countries to help them confront the phenomenon of climate change,” he added. 

Iraq, which is among the most affected countries when it comes to climate change, has developed a climate plan that includes public and private institutions, including those in the Kurdistan Region. “The implementation of this policy for the period of ten years… requires a budget of $10 billion. We have asked the global climate secretariat to support Iraq with this amount over a period of ten years,” said Falahi. 

Iraq’s economy is reliant on oil exports. The country needs its oil income to pay its civil servants and rebuild the country which was damaged by the Islamic State (ISIS) war. Much of the country still suffers from a lack of basic services, leading to protests. 

Falahi said the government has been “working seriously for years to diversify the sources of the Iraqi economy and not rely on crude oil as a main source of the economy. We are working on clean energy mechanisms to encourage future and strategic investment policy in renewable energies to make up for the shortfall and to comply with international standards.”

Azzam Alwash, delegation advisor to the president of Iraq and founder of Nature Iraq, updated Rudaw on Friday from Scotland on Iraq’s support for the methane reduction pledge that aims to bring down global methane emissions by 30% by 2030, and warned of the danger of inaction.

Few Iraqi politicians foresee the risk of not transitioning the economy away from its reliance on oil, Alwash said, and he “can count on one hand” the number of political leaders who understand the huge threats to Iraq’s economy and stability that inaction will lead to.

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