Briefing: climate change in iraq
Iraqis are facing an existential threat
Pictured: The Qadisiyah Reservoir reveals a sharp decline in the water flowing through the Euphrates river from 2006 – 2009. (Image: NASA)
The Tigris and the Euphrates, the two life-giving rivers that nurtured the cradle of civilization for thousands of years, could virtually disappear by 2040. That is what Iraqis face if Baghdad, Ankara, and the international community do not act swiftly to meet the distinct yet related challenges of climate change and increasing water scarcity.
While climate change is a global threat, it adversely affects some parts of the world disproportionately more than the rest of our planet. Iraq is among the places where that impact is being more acutely felt by millions of people. These communities’ vulnerability to environmental shocks is exacerbated by a legacy of past conflicts, ongoing neglect, underinvestment in modern infrastructure, and mismanagement of natural resources. Iraq today ranks fifth among countries most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, according to the United Nations Environment Program. (1)
As climate change accelerates, Iraq’s food production is dwindling, its ancient rivers and marshes are drying, its cities are becoming hotter and less and less livable, millions of its children face greater health risks, fragile communities are displaced, and desertification is consuming more arable land.
Urgent action is needed to raise awareness about the danger climate change poses to millions of Iraqis, to support Iraqis who are leading efforts to fight and mitigate climate change, and to foster greater coordination and cooperation between government action and civil society efforts on both climate action and water conservation.
water scarcity and its causes
In recent decades, Iraq has faced ongoing and detrimental environmental changes, including abnormal warming, intense droughts, declining and fluctuating precipitation, reduced inflows from shared rivers, rising salinity, and more frequent and harsh dust storms. At the heart of climate change dynamics are rising temperatures. According to Berkeley Earth, Iraq’s climate has warmed at double the global rate since the beginning of the twentieth century, rising by as many as 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit. (2)
Iraq’s climate has warmed at double the global rate since the beginning of the twentieth century, rising by as many as 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rising temperatures are wreaking havoc on the delicate balance with nature that the inhabitants of Mesopotamia had for thousands of years learned to painstakingly preserve to survive on a narrow strip of rich alluvial plains surrounded by harsh deserts.
The warming leads to less precipitation and, at the same time, higher evaporation rates from rivers, reservoirs and irrigation systems, and therefore reduced water availability throughout the Tigris and Euphrates river systems. To illustrate the problem’s severity, a UNICEF report released in August 2021 pointed out that Iraq’s last rainy season was “among the driest in 40 years,” causing the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to lose 29 percent and 73 percent of their usual water flow rates, respectively.
Evidence of the severity of water scarcity is hard to miss. In March of this year, footage posted by Iraqi environmentalists on social media showed that Lake Sawa, a desert lake that for centuries represented a rare oasis in Iraq’s southern Muthanna province, has completely dried. (3) Sawa’s demise was in part due to excessive and unregulated overuse of groundwater—that otherwise sustained the lake for farming and other economic activities in surrounding areas. Meanwhile, reports from the adjacent Dhi Qar province showed that one of the province’s marshes, Abu Zarag, was on the verge of disappearing. (4) It was followed shortly by alarming reports from Chibayish,
another one of Iraq’s celebrated southern marshes, which by this summer had lost much of its water, threatening the livelihoods of an estimated 150,000 people who depend on it for fishing, hunting, and raising their water buffaloes. (5)
The water crisis is regional in scope, creating challenges that span borders at a time when conflicts, competition over resources, and instability create unique obstacles to diplomacy and cooperation. According to World Resources Institute data, the Middle East and North Africa region has 12 of the 17 “most water- stressed countries” in the world. (6) And to cope with dwindling water volumes and rising demands of ever-growing populations, Turkey and Iran have been constructing more dams along rivers that flow into Iraq, especially the Tigris and its tributaries.
Turkey’s extensive dam construction programs are a major source of anxiety for Iraq. Ankara’s ambitious plans for the rivers include the Grand Anatolia Project, which was first conceived in the middle of last century and involves as many as 22 dams with 19 hydroelectric power projects over the two rivers to generate up to a quarter of Turkey’s electricity needs. (7) In particular,
the completion of the Ilisu dam in 2020 and plans to build another dam, al-Jazra, on the Tigris have caused great concern among Iraqis due to their severe impact on Iraq’s water share of the Tigris. After Ilisu became operational, officials at Iraq’s Water Resource Ministry said that the Tigris water flow dropped by half, from 600 cubic meters per second to around 300 cubic meters per second. (8) Water officials fear the al-Jazra dam will cause even more damage. (9) Unlike the electricity-focused Ilisu, al-Jazra is designed as an irrigation reservoir, which could lead to much smaller water volumes being allowed to flow down river and into Iraq.
The combined effects of climate change and damming in Turkey mean that water inflows to Iraq ‘will decrease to 30 percent by 2035.’
A Ministry study released in December 2021 anticipates that the combined effects of climate change and damming in Turkey mean that water inflows to Iraq “will decrease to 30 percent by 2035.” (10) Given
that Iraq’s water inflows are estimated to be about 40 billion cubic meters, dropping to 30 percent means the country would receive only 11 billion cubic meters annually. Measured against annual demand of up to 53 billion cubic meters, the study predicts the country’s water deficit to exceed 80 percent of its needs.
Ankara blames factors beyond its control for the mutual problem. Turkish officials have argued that mismanagement and wasteful usage of water due to old farming methods inside Iraq, and not water usage upstream, are to blame for their southern neighbor’s water woes. (11) They have also argued that water levels inside Turkey were both lower and less predictable than they used to be, seldom exceeding 350 cubic meters per second on average, making it impossible to meet Iraq’s demand to allow 500 cubic meters per second.
As water flows from the north dwindle, the quality of water faces another threat from the south. In the last half-decade, the salinity level in some areas of southern Iraq has increased by as much as 50-fold. This is in part due to increasing saltwater intrusion from the Gulf, which is caused by rising sea levels as well as the dwindling water supply in the Tigris and Euphrates.
To make matters worse, Iraq is responding to Turkey’s dam construction by building more large dams of its own, most notably on the Tigris river at Makhoul. (12) But experts say this policy may be counterproductive. The local environmental group, The Tigris River Protectors Association, points out that every additional dam built reduces water quantity downstream and increases salinity. This is in part due to the fact that Iraqi reservoirs lose up to 10 percent of stored water to evaporation. (13)
Inefficiency in water usage due to outdated irrigation methods greatly contributes to waste and evaporation, thus reducing Iraq’s ability to benefit from the shrinking water volumes it receives. This is an issue that requires urgent attention in a country where agricultural activities account for up to 85 percent of total water usage. (14)
Finally, weak regulatory environments also contribute to water scarcity. Water remains a severely undervalued resource despite the scarcity. Throughout many countries in the region, and Iraq is no exception, government subsidies and fear of the political cost of unpopular tariff reforms make water artificially cheap, encouraging waste and reducing the incentives for conservation.
Iraq is a victim of climate change, but it is also a contributor to the problem, primarily through the wasteful flaring of associated gas, a byproduct of oil production operations.
The second largest OPEC producer flares huge quantities of natural gas, which rises to the surface alongside crude oil, because the country lacks sufficient infrastructure to capture and process it into useful fuels. During the last decade, the amount of flared gas increased rapidly as the country ramped up oil production, rising from 423 billion cubic feet (bcf) in 2013, to 565 bcf in 2015. According to the World Bank, Iraq flared 632 bcf of natural gas in 2019, making it the second-largest source of flared natural gas after Russia. (15) To put that in context, Iraqi officials estimate that the country flares
Iraq is a victim of climate change, but it is also a contributor to the problem.
close to half of its daily production of 2.8 bcf per day, releasing nearly 30 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
While flaring is intended to burn all of the natural gas being released by Iraq’s oil extraction, dangerous levels of “fugitive methane” still escape into the atmosphere. This happens due to venting, leaks, incomplete combustion during flaring, and accidents associated with the country’s poor energy infrastructure. In August of 2021, satellites detected a huge plume of methane gas over southern Iraq that was likely the result of a pipeline leak that was spewing an estimated 130 tons of methane per hour—equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted by 6,500 cars running for a year. (16)
The flaring problem has had serious consequences In several critical areas:
- Environmental: Iraqi gas flaring causes significant harm to the environment on a global scale. Iraqi gas flaring releases nearly 10 percent of the worldwide flaring emissions of harmful greenhouse gases.
- Economic: Currently, only half of the gas that comes out of Iraqi oil wells each day is captured and processed. This represents an estimated direct annual economic loss of about $2.5 billion in potential revenue. Additionally, the flared gas could provide fuel to generate enough electricity to power three million homes and alleviate the severe power shortages that have haunted Iraqis for the past 3 decades. Instead, Iraq resorts to using expensive alternative fuels, and imported gas and electricity, which costs the country an estimated $6-8 billion per year. (17) There is also the added indirect cost of lost economic activity due to power shortages, which in 2013 was estimated to be $40 billion annually.
- Health: Burning natural gas is making people who live in areas adjacent to the gas flares sick. In oil production hubs like Basra, people have been
experiencing high rates of respiratory diseases and cancer. The burning of gas also creates oily residues that pollute water sources, kill plant life, and cause skin disease. (18)
- Geopolitical: Iraq’s electricity sector is precariously dependent on Iran for much of its fuel supplies. While Iraq burns about 1.7 bcf/day, it imports 0.7 bcf from Iran. In 2019, about 23 percent of Iraq’s electricity was generated by natural gas produced in Iran, and Iraq imported about 5 percent of its electricity from Iran. Iranian gas and electricity deliveries to Iraq have been unreliable, with disruption during hot summer months contributing to rising discontent and protests.
impact on agriculture
Over the past two years, the economic impact of climate change has been on full display as reduced rainfall, and inability to adapt to it, robbed Iraqi grain farmers of much of their harvest. The areas that suffered the most were the northern provinces, once considered Iraq’s breadbasket, that depend on rainfall. In Ninewa, out of 6 million dunams that rely on rain for agriculture and were farmed in 2020, only 300,000 (5 percent) were farmed in 2021. (19)
A report by the WFP, FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Bank underscored the role played by the decline in rainfall in the spring of 2021 in Ninewa and Duhok. In these provinces, the cumulative rainfall during that period was “the second and third lowest on record in 40 years.” (20)
The paltry harvests confirmed the fears. In August 2021, the Iraqi Trade Ministry said that farmers across Iraq delivered 3.36 million tons of wheat (down from 5 million the year before) to the ministry’s silos by the conclusion of the summer wheat harvest. Officials noted that lack of rain severely impacted the harvest in the northern provinces. Ninewa, which produced 920,000 tons in the previous summer, was only able to deliver only 89,100 tons, representing a decline of more than 90 percent, while the neighboring Kurdistan region’s provinces saw their harvest slashed by half.
On the national level, FAO said in October 2021 wheat production for the year was estimated to be “70 percent lower” than the previous harvest and “barley production negligible,” with the barley harvest forecasted to be only 11,500 tons for the season, down from 1.36 million tons in 2020.
This year’s crops have not fared much better as the country was forced to cut its irrigated cultivated land area by half due to water scarcity. As a result, this summer’s wheat harvest produced a mere 2 million tons, 60 percent lower than the 2020 yield. (21)
The limitations on agriculture were particularly severe in Diyala, where the entire grain growing season was canceled. Iraqi officials had expressed serious concern about an “unprecedented” decline in water levels at the Sirwan river, which flows from Iran into the Diyala river in Iraq. According to officials at the Darbandikhan dam, water flows into Lake Darbandikhan declined to 900 million cubic meters, down from 4.7 billion cubic meters in recent years. This has caused water levels at this important reservoir to reach their lowest since it was built in 1961. In addition to the damage to crops, water scarcity forced the suspension of 80 percent of Diyala’s fisheries.
This catastrophic decline in food production prompted FAO, WFP and IFAD to urge action to address water scarcity and other adverse effects of climate change and poor water management on communities that rely mostly on farming, fishing, and raising
In Ninewa, out of 6 million dunams that rely on rain for agriculture and were farmed in 2020, only 300,000 (five percent) were farmed in 2021.
animals. They noted that in the provinces of Ninewa and Salah ad- Din, families were forced to borrow or eat less food at “almost double the national average.”
In southern provinces like Basra, farmers have been facing heavy salinization of their arable land. This is expected to continue as sea levels rise and river levels decline, forcing seawater inland as far as northern Basra City. The increased salinity, which has risen by an estimated 5,000 percent in the last five years, has gradually destroyed farms that used to produce ample amounts of cucumbers and tomatoes for local markets, and slowly killed many of the millions of date palms that once made Iraq the largest producer of dates in the world. The salinity and pollution have also made the water toxic to animals that are key to the survival of local communities that rely on fishing, hunting birds, and animal husbandry, especially raising water buffalos. (22)
The scarcity of rain and surface water inevitably means that groundwater reserves will be gradually depleted as farmers and communities dig more wells, often in an unregulated manner, to meet their needs. During the last two decades, according to officials in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, the depths of artesian wells required to reach dwindling groundwater reservoirs increased from 200 meters to as much as 700 meters. (23)
Sandstorms present another threat to agriculture in southern Iraq. They threaten fields and farms by causing soil loss, decreasing the soil fertility, and removing organic matter. UN data suggested that the frequency of dust storms increased from approximately 24 per year between 1951-1990 to as many as 122 in 2013. (24) These numbers are likely to increase three-fold within the next decade as the underlying causes persist. Over this past
spring and summer, sandstorms had become a nearly weekly weather event, causing widespread disruptions to transportation and economic activities, and causing serious breathing problems for residents in Baghdad and other affected cities.
Supporting Iraqis as they tackle the human costs of climate change is a strategic area of focus for EPIC’s work.
impact on PUBLIC HEALTH
Climate change and poor water management render water supplies unpredictable in quantity and lower in quality. As the availability of clean water for drinking and sanitation declines, frequent outbreaks of dangerous waterborne diseases, such as cholera, become more likely, placing the health of entire communities at risk.
The downstream southern provinces of Iraq, especially Basra, have been especially vulnerable to this kind of threat. Located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, Basra is the last part in the journey of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers as they join to form the Shatt al- Arab waterway before emptying into the gulf. By the time the rivers reach Basra, much of their waters have been depleted by agriculture, industry, and evaporation. And the quality is poor due to increased salinity levels and the dumping of polluted untreated wastewater from human activities. The UN estimates that almost three quarters of industrial waste goes straight into Iraq’s rivers without treatment, and towns often dump raw sewage into the rivers as well. Studies have also shown that medical facilities, especially major hospitals in Baghdad, are another source of dangerous pollutants, including carcinogens, which are dumped directly into the Tigris. (25)
The low levels of water in the Shatt al-Arab increase the concentration of pollutants, and have repeatedly resulted in salt water creeping up from the gulf, threatening the water supplies for millions of people in and around Basra city. Moreover, Basra’s infrastructure never fully recovered from the eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s that was fought primarily near Basra. Consequently, the people of Basra have been facing chronic water shortages because municipal water treatment facilities are vastly ill-prepared to provide sufficient quantities of safe drinking water.
A UNICEF report released in August 2021 warns that almost 60 percent of Iraqi children are unable to get water that is safe to use, and that more than half of the country’s schools don’t have water at all.
In 2018, the water situation took a catastrophic turn. During that year’s exceptionally dry and hot summer, the water in Basra made more than 100,000 people sick. (26) Even mere contact with the polluted water, let alone ingestion, caused cases of skin disease among locals. That episode was seen to have largely provoked the deadly civil unrest that engulfed the province later that year and spread to several other provinces.
Water scarcity poses a particular risk to Iraqi children. A UNICEF report released in August 2021 warns that almost 60 percent of Iraqi children are unable to get water that is safe to use, and that more than half of the country’s schools don’t have water at all, presenting risks to children’s “health, nutrition, cognitive development, and future livelihoods.” (27)
impact on rural communities and cities
As water scarcity grows more intense, the loss of revenue due to failed crops has increasingly forced farmers to abandon their land and seek jobs elsewhere in nearby towns and cities. Climate change also heavily impacts fishermen and water buffalo owners whose livelihoods are directly connected to the health of the country’s rivers and marshes. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), water scarcity in southern Iraq forced about 20,000 people in 2019 alone to abandon their farms and homes and seek new opportunities elsewhere. (28)
Iraqi officials fear that the problem will intensify rapidly over the course of the decade, as Iraq may be losing some 100 square miles of farmland to the desert each year, according to UN estimates. Iraq’s
Ministry for Environment estimates that the water crisis will displace up to four million people before 2030. These estimates point to an impending displacement crisis comparable to the exodus that followed the occupation of a third of Iraq by ISIS militants in the summer of 2014. (29)
One of the communities most affected by climate change in southern Iraq are the Marsh Arabs, a semi-nomadic tribal people that has depended on the marshes’ natural resources for some 5,000 years. The intentional destruction of large parts of the ancient and biodiverse wetlands by Saddam Hussein in the 1990s was followed by a partial recovery of water levels after 2003. The slight improvement in the years after water was allowed to flow back into the marshes is being rapidly reversed by poor water management and climate change. Since the middle of the 20th century, the population of Marsh Arabs has dropped from nearly half a million to about 250,000. (30)
Meanwhile, cities are struggling to cope with the rising demand for basic services due to natural population growth, the influx of economic and climate driven migrants, and the dilapidated state of old infrastructure for water, sanitation and electricity. Cities are
also becoming increasingly harder to live in as temperatures rise. Built-up urban areas tend to be hotter than green spaces because concrete and buildings retain sun energy that green areas would otherwise reflect back into space.
Cities like Baghdad and Basra have repeatedly shattered temperature records, reaching as high as 129 degrees Fahrenheit.
In fact, climate change has contributed to making Iraq one of the hottest places on the planet. Cities like Baghdad and Basra have repeatedly shattered temperature records, reaching as high as 129 degrees Fahrenheit and creating life-threatening conditions. (31) Power shortages and high electricity costs make air conditioning a luxury that most can’t afford. Life shuts down for hours during the daytime in the summer months, which in Iraq can stretch from late April to mid- October. This at least in part explains why unrest and protests tend to erupt more frequently during the summer.
government response, civil society action, & opportunities
Iraqi government institutions have been slow to respond to climate change, and in many cases, have been altogether absent as the intensity of rising temperatures and reduced rainfall threatened the health and livelihoods of the population. Without meaningful reforms, little can be expected to change. There are, however, early signs of a new sense of urgency within Iraq’s civil society, and to some extent its government, about the perils of climate change.
In June 2021, Iraq, with UNDP support, finalized a document describing its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the Paris Agreement, which included a commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 1-2 percent by the end of the decade. (32) This move was followed in November by Iraq formally joining the 2015 Paris Agreement. (33)
In his address to COP26, President Barham Salih acknowledged that Iraq is one of the most vulnerable places to climate change and the threat it poses to millions of Iraq’s people and more than half of its arable land. Salih endorsed the Mesopotamia Revitalization Plan, a framework for developing an environmental strategy for Iraq and its neighbors who face the same threats. This initiative seeks to modernize water management, generate renewable energy, and encourage green investments. (34)
Overdue yet welcome action is being taken on the pressing issue of water scarcity. In December 2021, the Ministry of Water Resources said it has developed a strategic plan to cope with the growing deficit between water needs and available volumes. The plan, which identifies agriculture as the “main consumer of water” envisions measures that focus on “modernizing and readjusting irrigation projects and systems.” The project must be implemented to “save and rationalize large amounts of water.” This would be a major endeavor, as the Ministry expects it to cost up to $70 billion over the next 15 years in order to protect the land that Iraq currently cultivates financial requirements that are far beyond what the Ministry can afford. In 2021, Iraq’s Water Resources and Agriculture Ministries together received only IQD 966 billion (approximately $665 million). (35)
Iraq has set a target to end all flaring of natural gas by 2027, and has signed multiple deals with regional and global energy firms to develop large-scale solar farms. Government announcements point to at least 5 separate deals with companies from Saudi Arabia, China, UAE, France, Norway and Egypt to set up 10 solar power projects with a generating capacity of 5,525 megawatts. (36) In June of 2021, Iraq’s oil minister said Baghdad has a plan to generate up to a quarter of the country’s projected energy demand (roughly 10-12 gigawatts) from clean, renewable sources. The country also wants to encourage its citizens to adopt residential solar power. In July 2021, Iraq’s Central Bank said it will launch a IQD 1 trillion initiative to encourage homeowners and residential complexes to install solar panels.
In recent years, civil society efforts have emerged through groups like Nature Iraq, Waterkeepers Iraq, Humat Dijla, and Save the Tigris.
Iraq urgently needs to pivot towards a low carbon future. Accelerating that transformation would not only help mitigate climate change and improve the environmental sustainability of Iraq’s economy, it would also help meet the growing demands for greater diversification and job creation.
These groups have been actively monitoring issues that threaten the environment and Iraq’s rivers, advocating action to address them, and mobilizing volunteers to carryout small projects. But there’s potential for much more. Iraq has one of the youngest populations in the world. Nearly 60 percent of the population is under 25 years old. Many of those young people are politically active and open to new ideas. They are pressing for government reforms on issues ranging from the economy to human rights. Far fewer are the number of activists and civil society groups who are publicly taking action to address climate change, and rarely do their efforts receive the recognition they deserve. There is also a gap between government efforts, which take place in their own isolated silos, and what civil society is doing.
At the same time that Iraq is disproportionately contributing to climate change, climate change is having a devastating impact in Iraq, from prolonged heat waves to intense droughts. And yet, there is an alarming lack of climate awareness and action, not to mention water conservation efforts. That, however, can and must change. Iraq urgently needs to pivot towards a low carbon future. Accelerating that transformation would not only help mitigate climate change and improve the environmental sustainability of Iraq’s
economy, it would also help meet the growing demands for greater diversification and job creation. Iraq is a signatory party to the Paris Agreement and the EU, UNDP, UNEP, USAID, and other international organizations and agencies are working with Iraqi officials to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, particularly the environmental Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Iraqi activists and civil society can play an important role in supporting those efforts by generating wider public awareness and support, by pressing for greater accountability from public officials, and by cultivating future champions to combat climate change.
1 – Iraq launches National Adaptation Plan process for climate change resilience, UNEP, September 20, 2020. https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/press-release/iraq-launches-national-adaptation-plan-process-climate-change
2 – Loveluck, Louisa and Chris Mooney. Baghdad heat is world’s climate change future. The Washington Post, August 12, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/08/12/baghdad-iraq-heat-climate-change/
4 – Dhi-Qar mourns the death of Abu-Zarag Marsh as man and beast migrate. Shafaq News, March 28, 2022. https://bit.ly/3PhVYAd
5 – Low water levels in Chibayish threaten 150,000 people. Rudaw, June 30, 2022. https://www.rudawarabia.net/arabic/kurdistan/300620225
6 – Hofste, Rutger Willem, et al. 17 Countries, Home to One-Quarter of the World’s Population, Face Extremely High Water Stress. World Resources Institute, August 6, 2019. https://www.wri.org/insights/17-countries-home-one-quarter-worlds-population-face-extremely-high-water-stress
7 – Solomon, Erika and Laura Pitel. Why water is a growing faultline between Turkey and Iraq. Financial Times, July 4, 2018. https://www.ft.com/content/82ca2e3c-6369-11e8-90c2-9563a0613e56
8 – Kullab, Samya and Rashid Yahya. Minister: Iraq to face severe shortages as river flows drop. The Associated Press (AP), July 17, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/minister-iraq-to-face-severe-shortages-as-river-flows-drop/2020/07/17/7054535a-c842-11ea-a825-8722004e4150_story.html
9 – Iraq warns new Turkish dam is more dangerous than previous ones. NRT, August 11, 2020. https://www.nrttv.com/AR/detail3/5415
10 – Aldroubi, Mina. Iraq could have no rivers by 2040, government report warns. The National, December 2, 2021. https://www.thenationalnews.com/mena/iraq/2021/12/02/iraq-could-have-no-rivers-by-2040-government-report-warns/
11 – Turkey’s ambassador: we did not cut or divert river flows. Baghdad is responsible for drought. Nas News, July 12, 2022. https://www.nasnews.com/view.php?cat=89809
12 – Istepanian, Harry and Noam Raydan. How Iraq’s Race for Water Security Impacts Cultural Heritage and Environment. Iraq Energy Institute, May 5, 2021. https://iraqenergy.org/2021/05/05/how-iraqs-race-for-water-security-impacts-cultural-heritage-and-environment/
13 – Building More Dams Threatens Southern Iraq and Increases Drought and Worse Water Scarcity: No More False Solutions. The Tigris River Protectors Association, April 15, 2022. https://humatdijlah.org/ar/statement-nomorefalsesolutions/
14 – Jaradat, A. A. Evaluation of water demand and supply in the south of Iraq. Journal of Water Reuse and Desalination. https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/50600000/Products-Reprints/2002/1107.pdf
15 – Iraq eyes ending gas flaring by 2027, as it courts IOCs to capture associated output. S&P Global Platts, November 22, 2021. https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/natural-gas/112221-iraq-eyes-ending-gas-flaring-by-2027-as-it-courts-iocs-to-capture-associated-output
16 – Rathi, Akshat and Khalid Al Ansary. Large Methane Plume Detected Over Southern Iraq. Bloomberg, September 2, 2021. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-09-02/large-methane-plume-detected-over-southern-iraq
17 – Amid ongoing conflict, Iraq to Begin Snuffing Out Flares. The World Bank, May 9, 2017. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2017/05/09/amid-ongoing-conflict-iraq-to-begin-snuffing-out-flares
18 – Rubin, Alissa J. and Clifford Krauss. In Iraq, Burning Gas Poisons the Air. The New York Times, July 16, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/16/world/middleeast/iraq-gas-flaring-cancer-environment.html
19 – Ninewa loses 60 percent of its arable land and farmers resort to digging wells. Al-Mada, November 23, 2021. https://almadapaper.net/view.php?cat=252598
20 – Food Security In Iraq. WFP, FAO, IFAD, WB, October 3, 2021. https://reliefweb.int/report/iraq/food-security-iraq-impact-covid-19-special-section-water-shortages-and-adaptation
21 – Trade Minister announces the amounts of harvested wheat and Iraq’s import needs. INA, June 30, 2022. https://www.ina.iq/159776–.html
22 – Loveluck, Louisa and Mustafa Salim. The Climate change in Iraq poisons Fertile Crescent farmland, empties villages. The Washington Post, October 21, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/interactive/2021/iraq-climate-change-tigris-euphrates/
23 – Kurdistan Agriculture Ministry: 300-400 million cubic meters wasted each year. Rudaw, July 6, 2022. https://www.rudawarabia.net/arabic/kurdistan/060720222
24 – Iraq’s perfect storm – a climate and environmental crisis amid the scars of war. ICRC, July 19, 2021. https://www.icrc.org/en/document/iraqs-perfect-storm-climate-and-environmental-crisis-amid-scars-war
25 – Tigris River Pollution in Baghdad City: Challenges and Recommendations. The Tigris River Protectors Association, February, 2018. https://bit.ly/36E9bm5
26 – Basra is Thirsty: Iraq’s Failure to Manage the Water Crisis. Human Rights Watch, July 22, 2019. https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/07/22/basra-thirsty/iraqs-failure-manage-water-crisis
27 – Running Dry: the impact of water scarcity on children in the Middle East and north Africa. UNICEF, August, 2021. https://www.unicef.org/mena/media/12871/file/RunningDry-WASH-FullReport.pdfpercent20.pdf
28 – Climate-Induced Displacement – Central and Southern Iraq (Data collection period: 1 March – 15 March 2022), IOM, March 15, 2022. https://notifier.in/item/0qm7qm8ujt3xt78kltzmzbiiw342ykk3/3614999.html
29 – Trew, Bel. Iraq’s disappearing Eden: Water shortages could force four million people to flee their homes, The Independent, October 8, 2018. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-water-shortage-unesco-garden-of-eden-bible-four-million-people-homes-latest-a8574781.html
30 – McCarron, Leon. The Last Of The Marsh Arabs. NEOMA, October 19, 2021. https://www.noemamag.com/the-last-of-the-marsh-arabs/
31 – Samenow, Jason. Two Middle East locations hit 129 degrees, hottest ever in Eastern Hemisphere, maybe the world. The Washington Post, July 22, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/07/22/two-middle-east-locations-hit-129-degrees-hottest-ever-in-eastern-hemisphere-maybe-the-world/
32 – Iraq reaffirms commitment to climate action under the Paris Agreement. UNDP, June 3, 2021. https://www.iq.undp.org/content/iraq/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2021/06/iraq-reaffirms-commitment-to-climate-action-under-the-paris-agre.html
33 – Iraq officially joins the Paris Agreement. Nas News, November 11, 2021. https://www.nasnews.com/view.php?cat=73175
34 – Government of Iraq, President Salih’s address to COP26. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=26473823122
35 – EPIC’s analysis of Iraq’s 2021 federal budget, which can be found here: http://www.mof.gov.iq/pages/ar/federalbalanceforfiscalyear.aspx
36 – Based on multiple deal announcements tracked by the Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor (ISHM) throughout 2021. ISHM is available and archived at enablingpeace.org/ishm