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KABUL: Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities on Thursday condemned a decision not to invite its representatives to the UN climate conference, as the talks opened in Dubai.

A statement from the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) said that despite “comprehensive efforts” to address climate change issues in the country, Afghan delegates had not received invitations.

The statement, reposted by a top government spokesman, said the snub was “purportedly due to political factors”.

Since retaking power in Afghanistan more than two years ago, no country has formally recognised the Taliban authorities. The two-week-long COP28 is billed as the largest-ever climate gathering, and the United Nations and hosts the United Arab Emirates say they will be the most important since the Paris talks in 2015.

A central focus will be a stocktake of the world’s limited progress on curbing global warming. The NEPA statement underscored that “despite Afghanistan’s minimal contribution of 0.08 percent to the global greenhouse gas emissions… it remains one of the most susceptible countries to the deleterious impacts of climate change”.

A recent statement from the UN mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, said the country ranks eighth on the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index of most vulnerable nations and those least prepared to adapt to climate change. “Afghanistan is experiencing a rise in extreme weather conditions, notably floods, drought, and sand and dust storms, resulting in the loss of lives and livelihoods and significant damage to infrastructure,” UNAMA said.

Funding to Afghanistan, including support on climate change, has also been heavily impacted since the Taliban takeover, it added.

At the COP28 on Thursday, nations formally launched a “loss and damage” fund long sought by vulnerable countries devastated by natural disasters linked to global warming.

The NEPA statement said Afghanistan’s exclusion from the talks posed barriers to the country’s access to financial mechanisms and called for “unwavering support from our international partners in addressing this global phenomenon in Afghanistan”.

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