Carbon neutrality for Kazakhstan is not a dream, it is possible – EBRD Director in Kazakhstan

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ASTANA. KAZINFORM - EBRD Director in Kazakhstan Huseyin Ozhan was a guest at the Jibek Joly TV channel studio on the sidelines of the Astana International Forum 2023. During the interview, he and TV host Kunsaya Kurmet talked about the study on the Middle corridor the EBRD carried out, decarbonization of the Kazakh economy and whether it’s possible for Kazakhstan to become carbon neutral by 2060, Kazinform correspondent reports.

During the interview, Huseyin Ozhan revealed that the EBRD has invested more than $10 billion dollars in more than 310 projects in Kazakhstan.

«These projects range from every single industry, but mainly in infrastructure, energy, especially in the recent years as well as financial sector, manufacturing and services, natural resources, mining. So, it basically reaches a wide range of activities. I’m very happy to say that we've had investments almost in every region of the country. It is a pleasure for me, because when I travel I can see the projects coming into life across Kazakhstan. And seeing that and being a part of the development of the country is truly a pleasure,» he stressed.

When asked about the Middle Corridor initiative, the speaker noted that the Middle Corridor or Trans-Caspian route has gained significant importance, especially given the current geopolitical environment and in the recent years.

«We have carried out in the last year a big study funded by the European Union, but carried out by the EBRD,» Huseyin Ozhan said.

In his words, the report was unveiled at the EU-Central Asia Economic Forum in Almaty on May 19. «As part of the global gateway this study looked at sustainable transport routes between East and West and we looked at it from each country perspective. We looked at what needs to be done. First of all, the soft measures. When we talk about soft measures it is to increase the speed of customs control, digitalization - paperless transport. It will increase the efficiency of moving goods across the set of countries,» he noted.

The EBRD Head of Kazakhstan added that the most efficient route which is also inclusive to all countries in Central Asia was found to be the route that comes from Khorgos and goes to Kazakhstan through Almaty, Shymkent, touches with Tashkent and then comes up all the way to Aktau in Kazakhstan and then crosses the Caspian Sea in Baku and from Baku goes to Georgia into the Black Sea to Turkiye to pass through Europe. «This route is the most economically inclusive and the most efficient route that has been identified,» he emphasized.

According to Ozhan, along with the soft measures hard investments, quite close to $18 billion dollars, are needed along this corridor to make it more efficient and to increase the existing throughput by sevenfold, especially for Kazakhstan, in the future.

Huseyin Ozhan went on to add that green economy transition or decarbonization of the Kazakh economy is the key to sustainable economic development. «This year we saw President Tokayev signing the long-term decarbonization strategy of Kazakhstan to be carbon-free by 2060 and there is a lot to be done,» he said.

He reminded that the EBRD has been very active in the renewable market in Kazakhstan since 2009 starting from the feed-in-tariff structures continuing to the auction mechanisms. «We worked with Kazakhstan, with Ministry of Energy for creating and enabling environment for private investors, foreign investors to come and invest in renewable energy. Currently the EBRD has financed about 40% of all installed renewable capacity in Kazakhstan. We want to continue to do so. We are here to support both in terms of investment as well as technical cooperation and policy engagement with our counterpart in the government,» Ozhan said.

As to whether it is possible for Kazakhstan to be carbon neutral by 2060, the EBRD Director in Kazakhstan says it is not going to be easy.

«It’s an ambitious goal, however, it doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It is both possible and plausible. It is not only a renewable energy, there will be also energy efficiency, increase energy efficiency across all sectors. Renewable energy is an important component, but it’s not the only component. Together with increasing the energy production, electricity production composition eventually reduction of coal power generation are the key. But, we also have production facilities which can move to green. There are also a lot of companies, Samruk-Kazyna for example, they have their own decorbanization strategies moving towards carbon neutrality. In addition to that, we are working with cities. We have four green cities in Kazakhstan that joined the program of Green Cities, namely Almaty, Shymkent, Semey and Oskemen. So, it is basically everywhere. When you combine all these efforts in a structured manner carbon neutrality is not a dream, it is possible. And I really believe, I hope we will be around in 2060 to see the carbon neutral Kazakhstan,» he said in conclusion.