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Facing Intense Heat and Dust Storms, Iraq Aims to Plant 5 Million Trees

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has announced plans to plant 5 million trees to help the country cope with climate change.

Speaking at the Iraq Climate Conference in Basra on Sunday, al-Sudani said that, with climate change, his country is seeing extreme heat, meager rainfall, and worsening dust storms. Last year, dust storms shrouded Baghdad in sand, forcing the closure of airports and schools. And drought has displaced hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, al-Sudani said.

To guard against climate change and slow desertification, the prime minister touted “a grand afforestation initiative, which includes planting 5 million trees and palm trees in all governorates of Iraq,” AFP reported. Trees provide shade, helping to cool cities, and can act as a windbreak during dust storms.

Al-Sudani said his government is also working on a plan to build new irrigation projects, cut flaring from oil drilling, and ramp up clean energy, aiming to draw 30 percent of the country’s electricity from renewables by 2030. He said he would also work “to preserve Iraq’s rights in the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers,” as upstream dams in Turkey have slowed the flow of water, helping to dry out marshland in southern Iraq.

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