Background Paper. Climate Change Impacts and Climate Policy Making in in the Context of the Pandemic

I.       The Climate Policy in the Context of the Pandemic

1.1. The year of 2020 is pivotal not only for the global climate policy (when the Paris Agreement[1] takes effect), but also for social and economic development worldwide, especially with the coronavirus pandemic impact taken into account.

1.2. The restrictive measures taken against the COVID-19 pandemic have led to temporary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and improvement of the air quality. However, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), this should not become a trigger for denouncing measures to control global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

1.3. The WMO experts recall that over the last 50 years, the climate change impacts on our planet have continuously increased and reached the peak: the last five years have become the warmest period in the history of all meteorological observations. According to scientists and weather forecasters, the trend is likely to continue in the years to come[2].

1.4. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26), initially scheduled for November 9-19, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland, has been set back to November 1-12, 2021.[3] This was announced by Alok Sharma, the British Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who is also president of the COP 26. According to him, this decision was made because the world had run up against an unprecedented global challenge, so everyone is now rightfully focused on the actions to control COVID-19.

1.5. Meanwhile, the oncoming conference in Glasgow is expected to become the most crucial one after the Paris Agreement was signed in December 2015. It is supposed to call on the signatory parties to set the highest possible goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change.

II.    Results of the Madrid Negotiations (COP 25)

2.1. The most recent international climate change conference took place on December 2-13, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. The conference included the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) and the 51st session of the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies – the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 51) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 51)[4].

2.2. The previous UN climate change conference (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland, provided insight into the completion of the work program on the Paris Agreement implementation – a package of decisions addressing practical implementation of the Agreement. The Parties adopted the “climate package” of decisions regarding almost every issue of the work program on the Paris Agreement implementation.

2.3. The UNFCCC tasked the COP 25 (which had initially been scheduled to take place in Santiago, Chile) with settling some outstanding issues related to the “climate package”, to include the following:

2.3.1.      Provisions of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which allow the countries to partially achieve their internal goals of climate change mitigation using market-based mechanisms such as carbon emission quota markets;

2.3.2.      State registers for nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement;

2.3.3.      Providing information on adaptation measures in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

2.3.4.      The detailed conference agenda is available here.

2.4. The following decisions were made at the Madrid conference:

2.4.1.      A work program of a research character was developed on non-market cooperation (workshops, consolidated technical reports, etc.), with key areas described in detail. The first area includes joint actions on climate change adaptation and mitigation with sustainable forest management. It also singled out social and environmental aspects, as well as energy efficiency[5]

2.5. Some progress was made in individual financing of losses and damages in the weakest and most vulnerable countries, regarding what cannot be insured and what cannot be adapted to. Earlier, well-developed countries rejected this possibility. Nowadays, pursuant to the respective UNFCCC decision, the countries went on to explore potential channels and ways of financing.

2.6. The COP 25 decisions underline the importance of ocean and coastal ecosystems, both for climate change adaptation and reduction of human impact on the climate.[6] A powerful impetus was provided for gender issues and integration of gender aspects into the climate policy.[7]  

III.The Regional and National Context

3.1. All five countries of Central Asia are Parties to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. All countries have established an institutional and regulatory environment for fulfillment of their commitments. In particular, governments of Central Asian countries prepare their regular National Communications (NC) on climate change and, over recent years, have begun the process of preparing their Biennial Reports (BR).

3.2. Under their commitments (NC and BR), the countries prepare and report on the national emission inventory and greenhouse gas emissions (every two years, as per the BR), assess vulnerabilities and adaptation, and carry out activities to enable capacity building and foster climate change awareness raising. According to the BR, reports on climate change prevention (mitigation) is a priority. Hence, the countries shift their focus on the planning of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the national level.

3.3. Pursuant to decisions 2 and 4.1 adopted by the COP 21[8], all Parties to the Convention are to review their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) every five years. Therefore, the year 2020 is the first milestone for the region’s countries in this process. Currently, all Central Asian countries are working to update their NDC. For instance, the UNDP global project Climate Promise provides the countries with technical and financial support in potential increasing of their goals to reduce GHG emissions and improve adaptation measures, or include any other information needed for the NDC[9].

3.4. As a reminder, the currently functioning NDC are those provided by the region’s countries to the UNFCCC Secretariat during 2015 through 2017. In line with these documents, they are willing to reduce GHG emissions by 10 to 15% using their own resources[10]. However, with international support and access to climate financing, the total regional progress may reach a 30% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, as compared with the 1990 base year. Numbers and goals will vary from country to country.

3.5. Despite the challenges associated with the pandemic, the countries of Central Asia show some progress in implementing their climate change objectives.

3.6. Actions in shaping the national climate change policy have been enhanced. For instance, climate change prevention and adaptation have been included into the latest version of the Environmental Code of Kazakhstan, and are also covered in the National Strategy on Climate Change Adaptation of the Republic of Tajikistan (2019) and the National Strategy of Turkmenistan on Climate Change (2019).

3.7. Climate financing, too, has gained some success: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have been approved by the GCF to implement their national adaptation plans under the Readiness Program in 2020. In addition, the GCF has approved USD 19 million funding for CAMP4ASB.

IV. Reflection of the Topic in the CACCC-2020 Agenda

4.1. The UNFCCC Secretariat is expected to give a key report on the global climate regime and pandemic implications which has caused certain changes. The speaker is also expected to provide update on the main decisions made during the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties, and touch upon issues predictably important for the region which will be discussed and considered at the oncoming COP 26.

4.2. The key report is expected to set the tone needed for the next panel session of the UNFCCC national coordinators in Central Asian countries on fulfilling their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

4.3. During the panel session, official representatives of the region will brief the conference participants on the headway made in fulfilling their Paris Agreement commitments, identify the existing needs and gaps in effective promotion of the national climate agenda, and outline further national commitments to the UNFCCC, considering the NDC goals that are currently being revised.

4.4. The conference also includes interventions by hosts and organizers of the COP 26 (governments of the United Kingdom and Italy), who will share their plans of activities preceding the official opening of the Conference of the Parties (November 1-12, 2021).

4.5. In order to highlight the COVID-19 pandemic impact on public health in the context of climate change, a special speech is expected to be made by the World Health Organization.

[1] The text of the Paris Agreement in Russian is available at:


[3] Official statement:


[5] А. Kokorin, WWF

[6] The COP 25 decision:

[7] The COP 25 adopted the enhanced Lima work program on gender and its gender action plan

[8] See

[9] See Climate Promise project details here:

[10] See NDC of all Central Asian countries here:

This publication is available in Russian