Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), This year’s COP28 event – the 28th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC) – saw several significant achievements.
Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest oil producer and a major gas producer joined the “Global Methane Pledge”, a voluntary agreement to cut methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
In addition, 50 oil companies representing nearly half of global production signed onto the commitment to achieve near-zero methane emissions and end routine flaring in their operations by 2030.
Kazakhstan plays a pivotal role in energy supply to the EU and over 70 percent of its oil exports are destined for EU Member States, making Kazakhstan the EU’s 3rd-largest non-OPEC supplier.
Methane emissions are a by-product of crude oil’s production and transport. Because those emissions contribute significantly to global warming, their drastic reduction could help slow any rise in temperatures. Current technologies and changes in methods of operation can largely address existing issues, so the methane pledges would be a crucial step in the battle against climate change.
Central Asia experiences unique challenges in mitigating climate change risks. Kazakhstan’s President Tokayev pointed out that even if the Paris Agreement’s goals to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by 2050 are met, Central Asian countries still expect a 2.5-degree increase in temperature.
Results of this could include water scarcity, extreme heat, desertification, and severe hydrological events. Therefore, the President’s endorsement of the UN’s urgent plea for action is significant.
Tokayev revealed Kazakhstan’s decision to join the Global Methane Pledge during his speech to COP28. “Cutting methane emissions,” he underlined, “is our quickest avenue to immediately slow the rate of global warming.” This move, he says, signifies the country’s dedication to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, it aligns with the international community’s efforts to abate non-CO2 climate super-pollutants.
The decision, moreover, underscores Kazakhstan’s dedication to environmental conservation and its proactive role in global climate action. Tokayev also emphasized that, for developing countries to make such commitments, climate action must be equitable, meaning it must not demand that emerging economies sacrifice their national development and modernization. Development, according to Tokayev, should proceed in a modern and environmentally friendly manner. Consequently, he called upon the international community to “scale up its commitment to greater meaningful climate finance.”
By joining the Global Methane Pledge, Kazakhstan will gain access to technologies and finance for methane-emission reduction
John Kerry, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and Zulfiya Suleimenova, Special Representative of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan on International Environmental Cooperation, issued a joint statement that the two countries “state their mutual readiness to accelerate the development and implementation of policies and projects to rapidly reduce methane emissions, particularly from the fossil energy sector over the next two years.”
In addition, the U.S. committed “to work with partners to mobilize investments to support achieving full methane mitigation potential in Kazakhstan’s oil and gas sector, which will require at least $1.4 billion in total spending through 2030.”
The British Foreign Office, through the account of its Embassy in Astana on X (formerly Twitter), posted the following: “Congratulations to President Tokayev and Kazakhstan for joining the Global Methane Reduction Commitment at #COP28 in Dubai. A significant step towards a sustainable future.”
President Tokayev is credited with having spearheaded significant efforts to mitigate climate change. The New Environmental Code that he introduced in January 2021 regulates activities of individuals and legal entities that may negatively impact the environment, with special attention to methane emissions. Its introduction followed Kazakhstan becoming the first country in the region to ratify the Paris Agreement and establish a strategy for carbon neutrality by 2060.
Observers say Kazakhstan’s continuing leadership in advancing climate action in Central Asia is evident from President Tokayev’s address to COP28, where he outlined plans to host a regional climate summit in his country in 2026, under the auspices of the United Nations. He also invited COP28 member states to the Astana International Forum in June 2024 stating that the body fosters collaboration on acute climate-related issues leading up to COP29. These moves underscore the nation’s commitment to building momentum and promoting thought leadership on climate action.
Kazakhstan’s decision to join the Global Methane Pledge is, it is argued, an expression of the country’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and confirms it as a leader in climate action in Central Asia. The international community has recognized Tokayev’s efforts and expressed their support to help his country achieve its goals in methane reduction. This recognition highlights Tokayev’s dedication to aligning Kazakhstan with global frameworks for environmental sustainability.
Such an orientation will contribute to a better future for the people of Kazakhstan and the world at large while ensuring that the country’s industrial modernization continues its significant progress.