A Low-Carbon Future for the Middle East and Central Asia: What are the Options?


Gareth Anderson ; Jiayi Ma ; Tokhir N Mirzoev ; Ling Zhu ; Karlygash Zhunussova

Publication Date:

November 6, 2022

Electronic Access:

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Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.


Nearly all countries in the Middle East and Central Asia have pledged to contain greenhouse gas emissions as part of the Paris Agreement. The purpose of this paper is to identify the menu of fiscal policy options which would allow the region to fulfil its emissions reduction commitment. Specifically, the paper examines and estimates the tradeoff between two broad categories of fiscal policies: public investments in renewable sources of energy and measures that raise the effective price of fossil fuels. Such a dichotomy captures the key medium-term macroeconomic and long-term intergenerational trade-offs that are arguably the most pertinent for the countries in the Middle East and Central Asia where governments are likely to play a leading role in the low-carbon transition. At one end of this tradeoff, a gradual removal of all fuel subsidies and, in addition, a phased introduction of a carbon tax of $8 per metric-ton of CO2-equivalent in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) and $4 in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) over the next eight years could achieve the region’s 2030 emissions abatement goals without additional investments in renewables. T Alternatively, additional combined public investments of close to US$900 billion in renewable sources of energy between 2023 and 2030 would allow achieving the region’s emissions reduction targets with fuel subsidies reduced by two thirds and without any carbon tax. In practice, most countries are likely to choose a mix of these policies based on their individual circumstances. Importantly, the deployment of non-fiscal mitigation policies—such as tightening of environmental regulations, such as raising emissions standards, or incentivizing green private investments—could play an important role in reducing the required fiscal effort and improving the tradeoff described above. Global and regional initiatives to provide affordable financial support and technological assistance would be equally important in improving the region’s economic options. Regardless of the chosen strategy, delaying the rollout of mitigation policies would make achieving the emissions reduction targets more difficult and costly. Therefore, an early start will be essential to tread a smoother path toward a low-carbon future in the Middle East and Central Asia.


Departmental Paper No 2022/018





Publication Date:

November 6, 2022



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