Kazakhstan's remarkable economic growth during the last two decades, propelled by strong exports of fossil fuels and metals, has come at a high environmental cost.

The country's greenhouse gas emissions have already exceeded the 1990 level, amounting to approximately 400 million tons annually with electricity and heat generation accounting for a third of them. Unless appropriate policies and state regulation are adopted, the total volume of greenhouse gas emissions in Kazakhstan will continue to grow.

This not only jeopardizes the country's commitments under the Paris Agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 15% by 2030, but also threatens the government's ambitious pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Kazakhstan uses coal in about 70% of its electricity generation. Coal, being one of the most carbon-intensive fossil fuels, is considered the main culprit in the country's worsening air pollution.

Kazakhstan's air quality in wintertime in its capital Nur-Sultan often exceeds the permissible norms.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 23 2021, of The Himalayan Times.