Iraq is the fifth most vulnerable country in the world to climate change and is the most vulnerable country to changes in climate in the Middle East and North Africa region. Temperature increase and water scarcity are both affecting Iraq’s economic and social stability. Over the past four decades, average temperatures in the country increased by over 2.5 degrees Celsius. By 2050, Iraq is expected to be the ‘hottest’ country in the region, with average temperature exceeding thirty-six degrees Celsius, followed by Kuwait, Egypt and Libya. Increased temperatures are expected to severely affect labor productivity in Iraq, with the agriculture and construction sectors being the most affected. Thirty-five percent of Iraq’s labor force in the agriculture and construction sectors are facing extreme heat conditions with temperatures exceeding fifty degrees Celsius.

At the same time, growing water scarcity and more frequent extreme weather events have increasingly affected socio-economic conditions in Iraq through the exacerbation of electricity shortages and reduction of economic output in various sectors of the economy, including the agriculture sector. Based on World Bank predictions, the widening gap between water supply and demand is expected to increase from around five billion to eleven billion cubic meters by 2035. Water scarcity and low water quality can significantly reduce crop yields and affect agri-food systems, threatening food security and adversely impacting the country’s GDP.

Iraq also has one of the highest levels of carbon intensity (emissions by GDP) in the region. Most of the country’s total carbon emissions are attributed to the energy sector (electricity, oil, and gas operations and transport). Annual CO2 emissions in Iraq have more than doubled over the past decade, reaching 185 million tons by the end of 2021, compared to 61 million tons in 2007.

To address these combined challenges, the World Bank prioritizes climate action in Iraq in three focus areas: i.) adaptation, with a focus on the water-agriculture-poverty nexus; ii.) mitigation, with a focus on decarbonizing Iraq’s energy value chain; and iii.) managing the macro-fiscal implications of the transition to a low-carbon economy. The World Bank’s Country Climate and Development report  estimates that Iraq would require around $233 billion in investments by 2040 to respond to its most pressing development gaps while embarking on a green and sustainable growth pathway.

In recognition of these challenges, the government of Iraq ratified the parliament’s decision to enter into the Paris agreement on climate change and submitted its first Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) report in 2021. The Iraqi government has also endorsed the ZEF agreement, which aims at ending flaring of gas by 2030.

Key environment indicators

Key Impact Areas

Climate Projections

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