Do we need to adapt to climate change?
In the previous section, you have learned about the climate change problem.
We know what climate change is. But what should we be ready for? Should we undertake any preparatory actions that will alleviate the consequences of climate change?
Currently, we can say with certainty that Uzbekistan will be among the countries that will be seriously affected by the climate change problem. Some of the most probable consequences will be:
* Critical shortage of water resources;
* Increase of average temperature;
* Irregularity of precipitates – lengthy aridity with single time abundant precipitation;
* Absolute change of species proper for agricultural cultivation;
* Population health problems related to higher temperature regime;
* Redistribution of natural habitats of most flora and fauna species, and, therefore, cardinal change of ecological processes, produced products and functions;
* Aggravation of desertification processes, and, therefore, fewer lands for habitation and potential activities;
* Absolute redistribution of economy sectors influences;
* Numerous other consequences with lower predictability.
Nobody attempted to calculate the potential damage. But it is obvious that it is cheaper to prevent the damage than to restore things after the damage. That is why any actions that allow our citizens to get ready and adapt their lives in advance to the potential consequences mentioned above will be well justified.
Various population groups will be vulnerable depending on the consequences:
* The entire population will suffer from water shortage, but mostly those population groups whose livelihoods and earnings directly depend on water availability, farmers, for instance;
* Change of temperature regime will affect the energy demand regime in winter;
* Climate change will negatively affect the biodiversity of the country, i.e. people who depend on availability of biological resources, that is, all of us.
In this context, we especially would like to focus on the groups vulnerable from the energy availability and stability point of view. From the GEF SGP point of view, in particular, access to energy resources is the key factor of vulnerability for many population groups.
According to Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2000, Uzbekistan has about 1500 localities with no access to the national electrical network. Mostly, these are remote villages whose electrical supply through the network is inefficient due to high transportation cost, low level of population solvency, and difficulties of fee collection. Besides, in most regions, especially in winters, there are frequent energy cut-offs, which means that access to electrical power is unstable.
Stable access to energy in many aspects is both direct and indirect precondition to rural regions development. Lack of stable energy sources and high prices for delivery of hydrocarbon fuel restrain development of local conversion production and prevent other activities – for instance, greenhouses, milk processing, as these activities depend on stable and permanent access to energy and other sectors. Lack of agricultural production development affects social status and limits choices for earning a living from plant cultivation or cattle-breeding. Due to the choice limitation, the growing generation is almost entirely involved in cattle-breeding, which is, as noted before, one of the sources of land degradation and loss of biodiversity.
Another indirect result of instable access to energy is wood and shrubs cutting for fuel by rural dwellers. In summers this pressure is not heavy as the fuel is mostly needed for cooking, but in winters the scale of the cutting is immense due to the necessity to heat homes. Deforestation is the main reason of land degradation and loss of biodiversity. At the same time, it results in decrease of potential earnings for local populations: loss of pastures for cattle, loss of income from non-wood forest products, loss on income from recreation business based on healthy and aesthetically attractive ecosystems, etc.
Thus, lack of stable access to energy plays an important role in economic and social development of rural population that, in the current situation, is more vulnerable compared to the urban population.
What does the GEF SGP do to adapt to climate change?
Outcome 3 of the GEF SGP is dedicated to this issue:
For our society the concept of adaptation to changing climatic conditions is relatively new, that is why the GEF SGP found its niche in simple demonstration of how to get ready for climate change at the local level and replicate this experience.
The GEF SGP projects in other countries can serve as a sample of adaptation to climate change projects. The area of application assumed by this objective may vary from capacity building pointed at increased readiness of local population to natural cataclysms; increased safety of drinking water supply, decreased water consumption for agricultural needs due to forthcoming shortage of water resources, to increased food safety by enhances biomass production at certain territory, etc.
For more information of successful projects both in our and other countries, please see Projects section.