Turkmenistan pursues the effective environmental policy in conformity with the sustainable development strategy of the world community and global efforts to protect the environment, Chairperson of Ekodurmush Public Organisation Ainabat Atayeva told in an interview with the CentralAsia.news editorial staff.
The ecologist noted that the nationwide tree planting campaign that took place in Turkmenistan on November 4 showed a distinctive regularity — people’s care for their nature. Such an important environmental action not only enriches the spiritual world of every person, but also creates favourable living conditions for future generations of the country. Figuratively speaking, trees are the lungs of the Earth, absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen through photosynthesis. Oxygen is life! However, there is another problem — Earth’s climate is changing not for the better.
Global climate change is associated with the rapidly increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from human economic activities. The Central Asian region is experiencing the impacts of climate change, including increasing frequency and intensity of droughts and floods, melting ice, and changes in precipitation frequency and intensity. The number of heat waves has increased. Given that climate change may affect various aspects of society, environment and economy, there will be a need to develop and implement adaptation measures that will reduce their vulnerability to climate change. In the future, adaptation to these impacts will be very important.
This means adjusting the infrastructure, regulatory framework and institutional structure. The main national document on the implementation of climate change activities is the National Strategy of Turkmenistan on Climate Change. It is the quintessence of the national vision of the issues and the basis of formation and implementation of the state policy on climate change and its impacts. However, climate change monitoring is only a small part of the work done by ecologists. There is another aspect of caring for nature. Such as, for example, efficient water use.
Water resources of Turkmenistan
The total amount of water resources used by Turkmenistan’s economic sectors is made up of the surface runoff of the Amudarya, Murghab, Tejen and Atrek rivers, small watercourses on the north-eastern slopes of the Kopetdag Mountains and insignificant amounts of underground and drainage waters. Given the development prospects of the agro-industrial sector, the irrigation water demand can only be met under certain conditions. The most important of them are the improvement of the technological level of irrigation systems through modernisation, the complex reconstruction and reclamation of irrigated lands, the enhancement of the regulatory capacities of water storage reservoirs to regulate mudflows and flood flows.
The Altyn Asyr Turkmen Lake plays an important role in improving the condition of irrigated lands and ensuring the efficient use of water resources of the country. The unique hydraulic facility is located in the Central Karakum Desert, in the very heart of one of the greatest deserts in the world, dramatically changing the appearance of the ancient Turkmen land. By implementing such a large-scale project, Turkmenistan has demonstrated a comprehensive, innovative approach to recycling waste and drainage waters, which is an inevitable consequence of irrigated agriculture. Currently, in the context of climate change and the growing annual demand of agriculture for water resources both in our country and throughout the world, there is a vital need to efficiently use and conserve water resources. another important issue of concern not only for ecologists, but also for all humanity is the shrinking of the Aral Sea.
The environmental issue of the Aral Sea has been of great concern for the world community for many years, and it remains relevant today. The shrinking of the Aral Sea is an environmental disaster. Most of the water basin has dried up, and intense wind erosion occurs from the drying sea zone to the adjacent irrigated zones, thereby leading to huge economic losses in agriculture and serious public health problems. The Aral Sea disaster occurred in the second half of the last century. Before this, the reservoir was considered the fourth largest lake in the world. Actually, the Aral Sea is an endorheic lake, but due to its salty water and enormous size, it, like the neighbouring Caspian Sea, was called a sea.
The sea had the total area of 68,000 square kilometres. Its maximum length was 435 kilometres, its depth — 69 metres. The sea began to dry out in the 1970s. The climate changed as the great waters were withdrawn. Previously, local people were engaged in gardening and agriculture, growing melons, watermelons, barley and wheat in the vicinity of the Aral Sea. The Aral Sea served as a climate-regulating basin and was used to mitigate sharp weather fluctuations throughout the region, which had a beneficial effect on the living conditions of the population, agricultural production and the environmental situation. Air masses entering the region were heated in winter and cooled in summer over the sea.
The key areas of international cooperation of Turkmenistan that initiates constructive solutions to global environmental problems for the benefit of present and future generations are to conserve and restore water and other natural resources and combat desertification, land degradation and climate change. In particular, the UN Resolutions «Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea» were adopted at the initiative of Turkmenistan.
The term «industrial ecology» is indissolubly linked with tackling environmental problems in the oil refining industry. The current steps towards solving them in oil and gas production and processing are such aspects as the development of eco-friendly processes and waste disposal, purification of gas emissions in petrochemical production and wastewater treatment from oil and petroleum products.
The specific examples include the large-scale technological re-equipment programme of the giant of Turkmenistan’s petrochemical industry — the Turkmenbashi complex of oil refineries. The innovations used to build new facilities or to reconstruct outdated equipment at the Turkmenbashi complex of oil refineries have made it possible to significantly reduce energy costs, increase the yield and improve the quality of products compared to previously designed standard units. The technical solutions and measures of a particular project ensures the reliability, efficiency and safe operation of the facility, as well as the protection of the environment.
Substantial process equipment renewal and replacement have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions in Turkmenistan. Large-scale integration of advanced energy-efficient technologies and the latest achievements of world science into production throughout the entire cycle: from geological exploration and development of oil and gas fields to oil and gas transportation, storage and consumption have become the main goals of improving the technological and economic efficiency in Turkmenistan’s oil and gas sector.