Adaptation to Climate Change in the MENA Region

Adaptation to Climate Change in the MENA Region


The World Bank in its “Adaptation to Climate Change in the MENA Region” predicted that this region being particularly vulnerable to climate change, it should do more to adapt to water scarcity and heat and adjust all institutional mechanisms to deal with these environmental constraints. Environmental awareness in the Arab world posted on The Arab Weekly of 17 Novembre 2019 is a good illustration of this latest trend.


Lebanon was the country with the strongest concerns about climate change in general, followed by Tunisia and Egypt.

Adaptation to Climate Change in the MENA Region
Emiratis light candles to mark Earth Hour near Burj Khalifa in Dubai, March 23, 2013. (Reuters)

Climate change is a global emergency that respects no borders but results from a recent survey revealed that, when it comes to convincing MENA populations to come to grips with the crisis, substantial barriers remain.

Recent data gathered by Arab Barometer, a nonpartisan research network that has conducted opinion surveys across the region since 2006, indicated that a strong majority of respondents said they were “very concerned” about water and trash pollution (70% and 66%, respectively). Both issues are immediate problems that MENA residents must often deal with directly and can see with their own eyes daily.

However, when it came to more abstract or long-term environmental issues, such as climate change and air quality, fewer survey respondents said they were very worried (35% and 44%, respectively).

Opinions showed no significant variations across age and gender groups. However, more educated and affluent respondents expressed slightly stronger concerns about climate change in general.

The survey uncovered dividing lines geographically: Residents in rural areas were more likely to view climate change as a “very serious” problem than those living in urban environments.

Lebanon was the country with the strongest concerns about climate change in general, followed by Tunisia and Egypt, but national differences on specific issues were the starkest. Air quality was considered a “very serious” problem for 57% of respondents in Libya but only for 25% of those surveyed in Kuwait.

The survey adds credence to the argument that a region-wide effort must be made to build awareness about climate change.

U.S. Leadership Vacuum on Climate Change effects on the MENA

U.S. Leadership Vacuum on Climate Change effects on the MENA

The MENA region with its oil exporting countries predominantly relying on the US for everything from their respective currencies pegging to their downright defence system, seem these days needing some impetus in their Paris Agreement implementation. The U.S. Leadership Vacuum on Climate Change effects on the MENA after its unfortunate decision to forgo anything to do with it, a year ago, would certainly not help these countries, nor does it alter their previously shown enthusiasm for that Agreement.

This situation of a de facto ‘Wait and See’ would certainly not be conducive to any environmental cooperation. The Atlantic with this of David A. Graham published on Jun 25, 2018 gives us a good idea on that American withdrawal from the Paris agreement as a test for the future of the globe, but also for the international order.

Can Anyone Fill the U.S. Leadership Vacuum on Climate Change?

American withdrawal from the Paris agreement is a test for the future of the globe, but also for the international order. David A. Graham

One year ago, President Trump announced that he planned to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. The decision derived from Trump’s insistence that climate change is a “hoax” and his determination to overturn as much of his predecessor’s legacy as possible. It also matches with Trump’s insistence that the U.S. doesn’t need the rest of the world. In a material sense, that’s a bad bet: Whether or not the U.S. participates in climate pacts like Paris, the climate is going to change, and no wall can keep rising temperatures, and their effects, out.

But the U.S.-global relationship flows the other way, too: There are times when the world needs the U.S., and the effort to slow climate change is shaping up as one of those. Even discounting the effect of U.S. emissions on the goal of limiting change to 2 degrees Celsius, it’s simply very hard for international agreements to function without the U.S. behaving as the enforcer. That makes Paris an interesting test case for whether global agreements can work with America withdrawing from the stage, and if so, whether anyone else can step up.

“The absence of the U.S. at a political level is visible. I was at the Conference of Parties in Bonn in November and the absence of the U.S. is absolutely felt,” Todd Stern, the Obama administration’s lead negotiator on Paris, said Sunday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. “There’s a lot of countries trying to pull back and backslide and it wouldn’t be happening the same way if the U.S. was there.”

The biggest risk of U.S. withdrawal hasn’t come to fruition, Stern said: Other countries didn’t pull out of the agreement after the U.S. did—in fact, Syria joined in November, making the U.S. the only country in the world that is opposed. Stern worries that current levels of effort still aren’t enough to make the 2 degree mark. “If the U.S. is not in there, the likelihood that you’re going to get other countries doing their best is just reduced,” he said. But despite the foot-dragging from some countries, the most important players are all working to reduce carbon emissions, even as the U.S. loosens restrictions domestically.

“China is definitely pushing forward. India, definitely pushing forward. They’re doing that domestically,” said Christiana Figueres, former long-time executive secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The motives behind that aren’t always altruistic: China’s leadership views clean technology as a huge economic growth opportunity.

China is an emerging superpower, and pundits have long speculated that it could replace the U.S. as the dominant force in international agreements. So far, however, that isn’t happening, Stern and Figueres said. They’re making strides domestically but can’t seem to translate that into leadership among other countries. “It’s hard for other countries to align their political message with what is going on on the ground,” she said.

There’s an irony to this. For years, the rest of the world has often bridled at U.S. arrogance in foreign policy. Now, other countries are asking for the U.S. to assert its leadership at just the moment when the U.S. government is not only retrenching, as the Obama administration did, but withdrawing altogether. It turns out that while American power has sometimes bullied other countries into doing what they don’t want, it’s also a useful tool for forcing them to do the things they want to do but can’t on their own. Climate change will be a test for Trump’s isolationist vision and whether the world can find ways to work without the U.S acting as muscle. It’s unfortunate that the experiment’s stakes include the future of human life.

 

David A. Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers US politics and global news.

 

Alarm message of Climate Change impact on the MENA region

Alarm message of Climate Change impact on the MENA region

This article by Achref Chibani dated May 21, 2018 was published by ecoMENA on the increasingly overbearing effects of climate change on the whole of the Arab World. We republish this article with our compliments to the author and thanks to the publisher and above all for a further spread of the wise words held there in. More reading on the subject would be found in the World Bank‘s that has touched on the same subject reiterating the alarm message of Climate Change impact on the MENA region.

In the meantime, here is, for a closer at the ground, Ashref’s essay.

Climate Change Impacts on Public Health: Perspectives for Arab World

Climate change is not only affecting the economies of Arab world but also having detrimental impacts on the very fabric of society, through threats to public health and livelihoods. Climate change in the Arab world is also exacerbating social inequalities, hitting the rural poor the hardest.

This is not a reason for complacency amongst the wealthy urban classes. Basic humanitarianism aside, history suggests that physical hardships can breed wider unrest: a body of evidence suggests that poor harvests caused by a major Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in 1783 triggered no less an event that the French Revolution.

Extreme weather events and spread of diseases

With the Arab world already plagued by endemic unemployment and high inequality, it would be easy to see how global warming could play a significant role in socio-economic development and future political and geo-political events.

There is no doubt that, globally, we are seeing a much higher incidence of extreme weather events than seen since record-keeping began.  Aside from a few nay-sayers, the scientific consensus is that climate change is causing extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts, floods and cyclones. It is putting increasing pressure on crops and crop yields, both through more extreme temperatures and increase in insect attacks; it is creating a fertile environment for the spread of epidemics.

Impacts on public health

Climate change is adversely affecting our health which is becoming more severe with each passing year. The human catastrophe caused by violent sandstorms is not limited to the recent tragic events in India. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledges that sandstorm dust is a major source of respiratory diseases in several countries, particularly in the Middle East & North Africa.

MENA region has been regularly witnessing extreme weather events in recent years

Climate change is impacting on wind patterns, which in turn is contributing to the transfer of dust, pollen, bacteria, mold and other allergens, in the air, especially in extreme heat. Morocco and Algeria have experienced unprecedented pandemics and outbreaks of diseases such as tuberculosis and scabies that were, until recently, considered things of the past.

Well-established infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue are again on the prowl, and various new diseases, such as Rift Valley Fever and Horse Plague, are emerging.

Time for action

Research has shown that the average temperature in the MENA region will increase by around 2 degrees Celsius by 2050 in parallel with a depletion of the ozone layer protecting us from cancer-inducing higher levels of ultraviolet. These sobering facts should goad us into action.

While it may be too late to prevent much of climate change occurring, we are not yet too late to mitigate its worst impacts. Individuals, corporations and governments all need to accelerate programmes to minimize further worsening climate change, alongside introducing adaptation measures to reduce the health consequences associated with known climate change impacts.  MENA governments need to do much more to incentivize the reduction in greenhouse gas and particulates emissions. We are well-placed to benefit from the advances in solar power and battery storage technologies – in our cars, our businesses and in our homes.

Crop biodiversity needs to be fostered; alongside programmes to ensure heat and drought-resistant crops are being planted in high-risk areas. Sustainability needs to be embraced at every level in society – from building design and manufacturing processes to end-of-life recycling. Medical sector also needs to be prepared to deal with changing patterns because of climate change, to avoid significant negative impacts on vulnerable communities.

Conclusion

Climate change is a world problem, but Arab countries will be amongst the worst affected if we don’t act now.   It should therefore be a top priority on our governments’ agendas to protect their citizens before it is too lat

MENA coastal cities will be flooded if sea level rises

MENA coastal cities will be flooded if sea level rises

Gulf TimesBUSINESS posted on August 18, 2019, MENA coastal cities will be flooded if sea level rises: Al-Attiyah Foundation in Doha, Qatar as more and more People are experiencing the consequences of climate change across the Middle East, from floods in Jeddah to rising sea levels in the Mediterranean which are putting many coastal cities at risk.

Many coastal cities in the Mena region would be flooded if sea levels rise, the Al-Attiyah Foundatio

Doha – Many coastal cities in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region would be flooded if sea levels rise, the Al-Attiyah Foundation has said in its recent Sustainability Digest.

The literature on climate change risks in the MENA region has focused mainly on the issues of temperature increase and water scarcity, as both phenomena have been directly affecting the populations, it said.

“However, there are lesser known issues, such as sea-level rise. This is a risk to the population and national security challenge for Qatar since 96% of the population is living on coastal areas – with most in the capital city of Doha. Many coastal cities in the region would also be flooded if sea levels rise,” the Al-Attiyah Foundation said.

In the digest, the Al-Attiyah Foundation also explored the implications and challenges of the climatic impacts already evident in many regions of the world, with countless nations focusing on adaptation.

Adaptation is the process in which nations adjust to the current effects of climate change while preparing for future challenges. It refers to the practical actions, strategies, and processes that seek to lower the risks posed by these changes, as well as make the most beneficial opportunities, such as longer planting seasons or increased crop production in certain areas.

Climate change mitigation denotes actions that limit the magnitude and/or rate of long-term climate change and generally involves a reduction in human (anthropogenic) emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). The ever-growing threat of climate change requires strategic intervention on both fronts: Adaptation and mitigation.

“An abundance of evidence demonstrates that there is a need to urgently assess vulnerabilities and identify adaptation options. Early planning can help to reduce further the adverse impacts of climate change. Governments, society and individuals must work together to create a sustainable future which will inevitably require changes in behaviour, innovative technologies and practices,” the Al-Attiyah Foundation noted.

It said, “The two words that are hitting global headlines daily; causing huge concern for some and potentially ignored by many. The World Economic Forum (WEF) suggests we are sleep-walking into a catastrophe, whilst others believe innovation, collaboration and swift action now, could reverse the trend.”

In January this year, the WEF released its Global Risks Report 2019 on the major threats to the world economy. For the third year in a row, the report stated that environmental-related risks account for three of the top five global risks by likelihood, and four of the top five risks by economic impact, namely, failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation; extreme weather events; water crises and natural disasters.

The report bleakly concluded that of all the risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly not doing enough.

Related Stories:

The Best Tool to Fight Climate Change

The Best Tool to Fight Climate Change

The top ten emitting countries accounting for most of all Climate change impacts in the world are at this conjecture outside the MENA region but use most certainly fossil fuels originating for most from the MENA region. Climate change is not high enough on the agenda of most countries of the MENA region or anywhere else. If the MENA countries governments are serious about tackling climate change that presents challenges for the oil-producing and water-stressed region, they must quickly adapt the Best Tool to Fight Climate Change as elaborated here by Jeffrey Frankel in this article. It would, in our view, be complemented through technological innovations in areas such as solar power. In any case, the MENA region needs to put aside the current apathy towards climate change that is relatively common across the region’s countries and respond to the present challenges for the oil-producing and the non-oil producing alike.

The Best Tool to Fight Climate Change

By Jeffrey Frankel, January 20, 2020, 

If they are serious about tackling climate change, governments must quickly establish the expectation that the price of carbon will follow a generally rising path in the future. Lofty statements from public officials and optimal calculations from climate modelers will not do the job.

AMSTERDAM – Although many supporters of US President Donald Trump seemingly believe that global warming is a hoax, almost everyone else agrees that climate change should be at the top of the list of important policy issues. Identifying the problem, however, is not much use unless we also identify the appropriate tools to address it.

In my own field of specialization, central bankers have caught climate-change fever. Under the leadership of Christine Lagarde, for example, both the International Monetary Fund and now the European Central Bank have declared the planet’s climate health to be “mission critical.”

To be sure, financial institutions must fundamentally rethink some things in the light of climate change. For example, a bank or insurance company calculating risks to real-estate loans would make a serious mistake if it followed the standard methodology and plugged into its formulas the probability of a flood based on data from the last 100 years. Instead, it should take a forward-looking approach, which means using estimates of the increasingly elevated probability of such disasters.

But central banks and international financial institutions simply lack the necessary tools to have first-, second-, or maybe even third-order effects on greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions.

So, what policy tools would have first-order effects?

In the United States, the “Green New Deal” signals commitment to the climate cause. But I fear that the legislative proposal that its congressional supporters have introduced will do more harm than good. It includes extraneous measures such as a federal jobs guarantee. This proposal creates a factual basis for a lie that US climate-change deniers have long been telling: that global warming is a hoax promoted as an excuse to expand the size of government. That is a sure-fire way to generate votes for Trump in November.

Technological innovations in areas such as solar power certainly will play a big role in mitigation. But technology is not a policy. Subsidies are a policy. There is a case to be made that governments should subsidize research in climate science and relevant technologies. There is also a strong case that policymakers should allow free trade in solar panels, turbines, and other equipment, to lower the cost of generating renewable energy at no cost to domestic taxpayers.

But the policy that will move us closest to achieving global environmental targets, such as those in the Paris climate agreement, at relatively modest economic costs, is to raise the price of emitting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. If, for example, solar power or other renewables can in fact meet most of our energy needs at a reasonable cost, then a high carbon price will encourage that result. And if some other technology or approach is needed, the carbon price will reveal that as well.

The price of carbon can be raised via one of two policies: a carbon tax or cap-and-trade, that is, a system of quantitative emission limits with tradable emission permits.

In theory, the two approaches are equivalent: the quantity of carbon permits is calculated carefully, so that the resulting price when they are traded is the same as the price that would be achieved by the tax. In the real world, however, there are significant differences between regulating prices and quantities. The most important differences relate to uncertainty and political economy.

For starters, it would be great if policymakers could commit to a century-long rising path for the carbon price. People could then plan far ahead. Firms would know with certainty the penalty for building long-lasting coal-fired power plants. But, even assuming a miraculous burst of multilateral cooperation, today’s leaders cannot bind their successors 50 years into the future, which rules out precise certainty about the future price or quantity of GHG emissions.

What is critical, though, is quickly to establish the expectation that the price of carbon will follow a generally rising path in the future. To achieve this, governments must start increasing the price today; lofty statements from public officials and optimal calculations from climate modelers will not do the job.

Predicting political economy, meanwhile, is extremely difficult. In the climate-change arena, everything is judged to be “politically impossible,” and was even before Trump. Even so, at the global level governments are probably more likely to agree to quantitative emission targets – as in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris accord – than to a global carbon tax, which would be considered too severe an invasion of sovereignty.

When it comes to the national implementation of any global effort to limit CO2 emissions, however, I lean toward a carbon tax over tradable emission permits. Previous attempts to introduce emission permits, such as Europe’s Emissions Trading System, have revealed a tendency to mollify industry by issuing more permits than originally intended and giving too many to legacy firms. The logic of doing so is to “make them whole,” but this can result in windfall gains when the firms sell the permits.

In any case, putting the price of carbon on an upward path, whether via a carbon tax or cap-and-trade, is the right tool for the job.

Obviously, no single citizen can expect to solve the problem of climate change alone. But whereas some individual actions are mainly symbolic, others can have an effect that is at least proportionate to the number of citizens undertaking them.

For frustrated young people, one piece of advice is clear: while going to a Greta Thunberg-inspired demonstration is fine, registering and voting is critical. If Americans aged 18-24 were to turn out and vote in the same proportions as older age groups, Trump would almost certainly not be re-elected. With Trump gone, the US could rejoin the Paris agreement and adopt effective measures to combat global warming – and other governments would lose an excuse they currently have to delay action.

Jeffrey Frankel, Professor of Capital Formation and Growth at Harvard University, previously served as a member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. He is a research associate at the US National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is a member of the Business Cycle Dating Committee, the official US arbiter of recession and recovery. Jeffrey Frankel has been writing for PS since 2000 with 159 Commentaries.

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