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Mongolia is looking for $11 billion in green finance to decarbonize its economy, which is currently heavily dependent on fossil energy, mining and livestock farming, the country’s minister of environment and tourism said on Wednesday.

“There is a rough estimation that we would need $11 billion as a start” to transition into a greener and more sustainable economy, while also promoting more environmental businesses with advanced technology, Bat-Erdene Bat-Ulzii said in an interview during the COP28 summit in Dubai. “We are trying to contribute to the global efforts of improving the environment as well, so for us international, bilateral, multilateral cooperations are very important.”

Mongolia is facing challenges stemming from land degradation, limited water resources and overgrazing. Meanwhile, energy and mining sectors account for a lion share of its economy, of which coal exporting to China has been rising due to steady demand.

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The country has committed to increase its renewable electricity capacity — including hydropower, solar and wind — to 30% by 2030 as a share of total electricity generation capacity. It has already managed to increase the portion to 27%, if construction-stage projects are counted, Bat-Ulzii said. The nation of about 3.5 million people is also in the middle of transforming its animal farming sector. It currently has 71 million livestock animals, which is beyond its theoretical pasture capacity of 25 million.

Bat-Ulzii said Mongolia is a victim of global climate change as well and called for a strengthened environmental compensation mechanism with more options. Even if Mongolia is eligible for assistance through the yet-to-be operational loss and damage fund, he doesn’t think the fund is going to support the country much from his experience, Bat-Ulzii said. He’s concerned the criteria to have projects supported through the loss and damage fund could be too high and the delivery time for finance could be too slow.

The Mongolia minister said the COP28 summit should not be about showing bread to a starving person or water to the thirsty, when being asked about his own observation about the conference. Whether Mongolia will agree to text that calls for the phase down or phase out of fossil fuels at the summit is highly related with seeing more financial solutions and ways to secure the delivery, he said.

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