BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Climate change discourses in the authoritarian vulnerable state: the case of Uzbekistan.

Fri8  Apr03:20pm(20 mins)
CWB Plenary


Alina Bychkova


Uzbekistan is 6th vulnerable to climate change among Eastern Europe and Central Asian countries because of its low adaptive capacity and impacts on economic and social infrastructure. Water security comes as the main concern in a double-landlocked country with an arid continental climate and agriculture representing one of the key economic sectors. Climate change is expected to reduce crop yields by 20 – 50%t by 2050 causing hunger, poverty and migration. Despite such threats, there is much to improve in terms of climate adaptation. Uzbekistan is ranked 4th world’s ‘worst water waster’ (Chikalova 2016), energy inefficient, and there is still no substantial renewable energy means. This can be attributed to Uzbekistan’s ‘hard’ authoritarian leadership where hierarchical decision-making, limited scientific research, and restricted public voice hamper responses to climate change. With the change over the president’s chair in 2016, climate policy was given more importance. Uzbekistan ratified the Paris Agreement in 2018 and signed other international treaties, simultaneously attracting considerable foreign investments. At the national level, the state adopted relevant strategies. This paper looks at how political change, economic motivations and a multitude of cultural factors shape climate change narratives in Uzbekistan. By applying critical discourse analysis (van Dijk 2013) it unveils what influences political, science, and media discussions have in this authoritarian state.