COP27 explained by experts

COP27 explained by experts

All that is needed is for COP27 to be explained by experts as well as to get to know what is it and why should I care.

 

COP27 explained by experts: what is it and why should I care?

 

By Imraan Valodia, University of the Witwatersrand and Julia Taylor, University of the Witwatersrand

COP27 explained by experts

shutterstock/rafapress

 

COP27 is the 27th Conference of the Parties (countries) that signed up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The convention was established at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and has been ratified by 198 countries. They agreed to stabilise the production of greenhouse gases in order to prevent dangerous climate change.

Since then, the Conference of the Parties has been hosted in a different country each year. These conferences broadly provide a platform for the negotiation of international climate change treaties.

The very first treaty acknowledged that the responsibility for action was different for developed and developing countries, because developed countries were responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite some gains, commitment to these treaties has not translated into the action necessary to shift the course of global climate change. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that global average temperatures have already reached 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels and that warming of over 1.5°C is all but inevitable unless drastic action is taken.

Everyone is affected by climate change, but some people and regions are more vulnerable than others. Regions that will experience the most adverse impacts of climate change are West, Central and East Africa, South Asia, Central and South America, Small Island Developing States and the Arctic. Populations living in informal settlements will have the worst of it.

Vulnerability to climate change impacts is driven by socioeconomic, political and environmental factors. African countries have already experienced loss and damage due to climate change. For example, food production, economic output and biodiversity have all declined and more people are at risk of dying due to climate change in African countries.

The COP27 is therefore important because that is where decisions are made about how to respond to climate change.

Climate change treaties

Three international treaties have been adopted on international climate change cooperation. They led to the development of different bodies which all convene under the banner of the COP. COP is where they meet, negotiate and evaluate progress, even though COP technically only refers to the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The first treaty was the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The second was the Kyoto Protocol, established in 1997. Countries made commitments to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. The Kyoto Protocol was based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. It acknowledged that because of their higher levels of economic development, developed countries could and should take greater responsibility to reduce emissions.

The third and most recent treaty is the 2015 Paris Agreement. It covers climate change mitigation, adaptation and financing and aims to limit the rise in temperatures to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. All signatories need to develop a non-binding plan for climate change mitigation, including reducing emissions. They also have to report on progress.

A key weakness of the Paris Agreement is that it is non-binding. Also, the commitments are self-determined. A recent study found that even if all countries did meet their commitments, it would not be enough to limit warming to below 2°C.

It is important to understand and engage in these processes as the impacts of climate change are increasing globally. The increase in the global average temperature is one of several climate impacts. Others include increased likelihood of droughts or floods, and increased intensity of storms and wildfires.

The frequency of climate events will increase as temperatures rise. There is an urgent need for action to prevent global warming from rising above 2°C. Temperatures over 2°C will result in irreversible climate impacts such as sea level rise, and affect far more people than an increase of 1.5°C.

Responses to climate change

There are three policy areas which have emerged to respond to climate change.

The first is mitigation – the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to stabilise the climate. Examples of mitigation include replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, or developing electrified public transport to replace private vehicles powered by combustion engines.

The second is adaptation – interventions which would support climate resilience and reduce vulnerability. Examples include improved water management and conservation to reduce risk of drought, initiatives to improve food security and support for biodiversity.

The last policy area deals with loss and damage. Loss and damage refers to “the economic and non-economic damages associated with slow onset events and extreme weather events caused by global warming and the tools and institutions that identify and mitigate such risks.” Interventions to address loss and damage can include risk management support and finance which is often framed as climate reparations.

Mitigation and adaptation are well understood and established within climate policy. And they have finance mechanisms within international treaties, even though existing commitments to these mechanisms have not materialised in practice, particularly when it comes to adaptation. Loss and damage, however, has received far less attention in international treaties and negotiations.

Highlighting loss and damage

The Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage was established in 2013 to provide a framework to address loss and damage. It aims to improve understanding of risk management approaches, increase coordination and dialogue among stakeholders and enhance action and support.

The issue of loss and damage was incorporated into the Paris Agreement, but without any specific commitments around it. During negotiations at COP25, the Santiago Network was set up to avert, minimise and address loss and damage for developing countries but it focuses mostly on technical assistance rather than finance. At COP26 (in 2021) there was an agreement to fund the Santiago Network, but the institutional framework is not yet finalised.

Loss and damage was raised as an important issue to be addressed during COP26. There were some promising moves, such as the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, pledging £2 million towards a loss and damage finance facility. But many rich nations did not support this.

The negotiations led to the proposal to establish the Glasgow Finance Facility for loss and damage. But the wording of the decision was changed at the last minute to the Glasgow Dialogues, which committed to discussing arrangements for funding activities to avert, minimise and address loss and damage. This change has delayed any real financial support for loss and damage in the short term.

This was very disappointing for developing country parties, who will be pushing once more to secure financing for loss and damage at COP27, and holding other countries to account for the US$100 billion annual commitment towards climate finance which has yet to materialise.

Many climate activists from the global south feel that if a financing facility for loss and damage is not discussed at COP27, it will be a failed conference.The Conversation

Imraan Valodia, Pro Vice-Chancellor: Climate, Sustainability and Inequality and Director Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, University of the Witwatersrand and Julia Taylor, Researcher: Climate and Inequality, University of the Witwatersrand

The featured image is of Solar panels on the rooftop of a hotel in Sharm el-Sheikh, the host city for COP27 (Image: Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Alamy)

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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COP27: three reasons rich countries can no longer ignore calls

COP27: three reasons rich countries can no longer ignore calls

We tend to surf on how and why disputes arise between countries because each has interests to preserve. Notably, the advanced countries have the most to lose, and the developing ones are convinced they have too little to wait for.  Despite that, at COP27, the authors found three reasons rich countries can no longer ignore calls to pay the developing world for climate havoc.

The enormous global paradox is that progress and development are the natural causes of planetary embarrassment and which, combined with the misdeeds of nature, pose a problem.

The above image is of Ends Report

Below picture was featured in New York Times 

COP27: three reasons rich countries can no longer ignore calls

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain and Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, on Monday.Credit…UAE Presidential Court, via Reuters

COP27: three reasons rich countries can no longer ignore calls to pay developing world for climate havoc

Lisa Vanhala, UCL

Payments from high-emitting countries to mitigate the harm that climate change has caused in the most vulnerable parts of the world is finally on the agenda for discussion at a global climate change summit, more than 30 years after the idea was first articulated by delegates from small island developing states.

Loss and damage is the term used by the UN to describe these impacts of climate change that cannot be prevented and to which people cannot adapt. These include lives that have been and will be lost, communities displaced by rising seas, extreme weather and famine, livelihoods and cultural heritage destroyed and ecosystems damaged beyond repair because of a failure to arrest greenhouse gas emissions, and so, global temperature rise.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people are highly vulnerable to climate change. Many of them live in west, central and east Africa, south Asia, central and South America, as well as in small island developing states, such as Vanuatu in the Pacific, and in the Arctic.

As countries in these regions divert more of their wealth towards preparing for and recovering from storms, spreading deserts and melting glaciers, they are left with less money to cut their emissions and contribute to meeting the 1.5°C goal agreed at the negotiations in Paris in 2015. Rich countries, who are responsible for most emissions, promised US$100 billion (£87.2 billion) a year in aid in 2015.

But a recent UN report found that international finance to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change (with bigger sea walls, for instance) has amounted to less than one-tenth of what is needed, and the gap between the two is widening. The US, UK, Canada and Australia are among the biggest laggards when their historical responsibility for climate change is taken into account. There has been no separate funding to address the damage already caused by warming.

At COP26 in 2021, developing countries proposed a loss and damage finance facility to help communities recovering from disasters and compensate them for what they have lost already. The EU and US resisted this in the final days of talks.

Instead, the Glasgow Dialogue was established: a series of discussions about how to arrange funding to help countries bearing the brunt of climate change. Delegates from developing country were sorely disappointed. Instead of material support, they got another talking shop.

But many of these same negotiators are heading into COP27 with new resolve. Here are three reasons why loss and damage is becoming harder for rich countries to ignore.

1. The latest science

Attribution science, which clarifies the links between extreme weather events and emissions, has taken great leaps forward in recent years. Across more than 400 studies, scientists have examined wildfires in the US, heatwaves in India and Pakistan, typhoons in Asia and record-breaking rainfall in the UK.

Broadly, this research shows the poorest and most vulnerable are bearing the heaviest burden despite having contributed the least to the problem. This growing evidence base bolsters the case for reparations.

2. Climate impacts are escalating

The deadly floods in Pakistan in August are the latest in a series of disasters to push loss and damage up the global agenda. According to a recent study, as much as 50% of the rainfall would not have happened without climate change.

Pakistan’s leaders have said that wealthy countries must help pay the bill. After all, it is the latter’s actions that precipitated the disaster. Pakistan’s historically low emissions mean its own contribution to climate change is negligible.

From droughts in Somalia to floods in Nigeria, extreme weather during 2022 has also heaped suffering on African countries with little culpability for climate change. Given that COP27 will be held in Egypt and has been dubbed “the African COP”, these arguments will be brought to the fore.

3. Growing momentum outside of the UN process

The increasing number and importance of lawsuits brought against countries and companies failing to reduce their emissions highlights growing frustration with negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As long as rich countries continue to evade the loss and damage issue, vulnerable countries and communities – and their lawyers – will search for alternative solutions.

That is not to say they haven’t had some notable recent successes. The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) decided in September that the Australian government is failing to protect the Torres Strait Islanders from the effects of climate change. This sets a precedent in international human rights law which could one day extend to governments and institutions which have affected people further afield.

But, outside the UN, poorer countries are organising to explore ever more sophisticated diplomatic and legal ways of applying pressure on rich countries. At COP26, the prime ministers of Antigua and Barbuda and Tuvalu launched a commission to explore the kinds of compensation small island states might seek under international law. A group of countries led by Vanuatu is heading for the International Court of Justice.

Since high levels of debt hinder their ability to recover from the ravages of climate change, African and small island leaders are demanding debtors (including development banks and rich countries) write off, suspend or reschedule payments so that vulnerable nations can spend more on cutting emissions and adapting to climate change. These proposals have been called “debt for climate swaps”.

The International Monetary Fund recently announced a resilience and sustainability trust to help shield the finances of vulnerable countries from climate disasters, suggesting development policy is slowly shifting. This followed campaigning by Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados.

Strings attached

Some rich countries are now taking action, suggesting a growing acknowledgement that this funding cannot be delayed forever. In September, Denmark was the first UN party to pledge finance – about US$13 million – to address loss and damage. The G7, under the leadership of the German presidency, has launched an initiative to expand access to financial aid in the immediate aftermath of climate disasters through improvements to existing insurance and social security schemes.

Because these initiatives have come outside of the UNFCCC negotiations, donor countries are free to dictate the terms of their support, sidestepping a process that should be about meeting the needs of vulnerable communities. Much of their funding will go into insurance schemes. Many of the insurance firms that would benefit are based in Europe and the US.

Insurance payouts may be a lifeline for drought-scarred small farmers and flooded homeowners. But some risks are uninsurable, especially those with a slow onset, such as those resulting from sea-level rise. Then there are less tangible harms, such as lost livelihoods, illness and biodiversity loss. Insurance against cyclones won’t compensate fishers in Tuvalu who stand to lose their coastal fisheries as coral reefs succumb to warming.

The next front in the loss and damage debate will involve exploring whether providing finance as a form of solidarity (rather than compensation) is more palatable for rich countries. If that money is wrapped up in insurance schemes, designed to enrich consultants, it won’t really help poor countries. Progress at COP27 will be determined by whether these nations feel the UNFCCC is even capable of helping them.

 

Lisa Vanhala, Professor of Political Science, UCL

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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The Conversation

Fight against global warming, for the collective effort of Africa

Fight against global warming, for the collective effort of Africa

The world is, according to most, losing the climate change battle, but Algeria losing no hope is gearing up and can lead the way to combat climate change.  It is a Fight against global warming for the collective effort of Africa.

COP 27: Algeria’s actions in the Fight against global warming for the collective effort of Africa.

By Dr Abderrahmane MEBTOUL

 

The temperature record is likely to become the norm, and not the exception and scientists continue to warn about global warming and call for emergency measures. Aware of the dangers threatening our planet, Algeria will be present at COP 27, which will take place in Egypt from 6 to 18 November 2022. The President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid TEBBOUNE, recently presented an ambitious plan for the fight against global warming in Africa. The goal unanimously adopted by the Organization of African Union (OAU) proposed the establishment of the Support Fund for Measures to Combat the Negative Impacts of Climate Change. It had been endorsed by the Peace and Security Council (PSC), urging developed countries to fulfil their commitments to limit climate deterioration.

1.-The context of the holding of COP 27 in Egypt

This crucial meeting engages the world’s security where UN reports predict an unprecedented drought between 2025 and 2030, with fires, a shortage of fresh water and, therefore, a food crisis. It is in an alarming context, with the last two years, 2021 and 2022, marked by extreme weather events such as mega-fires in the Amazon, California or Greece, drought in North Africa and Europe, continued deforestation in the Amazon, and floods in Pakistan. Fundamentally, if we fail to transition to a low-carbon world, it will threaten the integrity of the global economy. 

Because the climate is a vast, interconnected system, any action in a specific area of the globe impacts the rest of the world. Since 1850, our planet has already warmed by an average of 1.1°C. According to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming could reach 1.5°C to 4.4°C by 2100. IPCC experts say global warming should be contained to +1.5°C by 2100 to prevent our climate from spiralling away. This limitation will be out of reach unless immediate, rapid and massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are achieved through carbon neutrality by 2050. Global warming has several adverse effects that threaten global security. Global warming is having disastrous consequences on the planet. It leads to rising sea levels, changing the oceans, amplifying extreme weather events and causing water to evaporate, which changes rainfall patterns. Global warming threatens plants and animals as the growth cycles of wild and cultivated plants are altered. Global warming is also disrupting human living conditions and increasing health risks: heat waves, cyclones, floods, and droughts, facilitated the spread of diseases and disruption of the distribution of natural resources, their quantity and quality, and agricultural yields and fishing activities. Thus, government commitments would only achieve 20% of the necessary emission reductions by 2030. Achieving the goals would require an investment of up to $4 trillion annually over the next decade, with most of these investments directed to developing economies. Global warming is not a vision of the mind being a global threat, and the highest Algerian authorities have become aware, especially with, on the one hand, torrential rains and, on the other hand, fires more and more frequent with sometimes criminal acts. But it is a question of distinguishing short-term actions in the face of emergencies from medium- and long-term measures that exceed the means of a single country; the efforts must be collective.

2.- Algeria’s actions against global warming: the national climate plan 2020-2030

For Algeria, a semi-arid country, the significant impacts of climate change are fires destroying thousands of hectares of forests, sometimes with many victims, not to mention material damage – as in 2021 in Kabylia and 2022 in the east of the country. A shortage of water resources, the degradation of water quality, the intrusion of marine waters at aquifers and the deterioration of infrastructure are caused mainly by water tables flooding. Algeria has adopted an ambitious plan against global warming because it has experienced, over the last century, a temperature increase of 0.3 ° C per decade as well as a rainfall deficit of 15%, requiring another water policy not unique to Algeria, which can lead to wars in the world. Algeria has opted for seawater desalination units throughout the country, particularly on the coasts where more than 80% of the population is concentrated. In Algeria, there are losses of up to 30% due to old pipes, making investments urgent as well as in water recycling units, another policy for agriculture by encouraging dripping, for example. The Albian aquifer is the enormous groundwater table in the world, with about 50,000 billion cubic meters, straddling three countries, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. 70% of the water table is in Algerian territory in the country’s southeast. A pipeline has been built between In Salah and Tamanrasset for its supply, and a reasonable policy without breaking the ecosystem (these aquifers are non-renewable) can boost agriculture. Algeria is committed to the fight against climate change. In 2015, it ratified the Paris Climate Agreement (COP 21). Long before, in June 1992, Algeria signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and ratified it in June 1993, having participated in the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 25), which took place in Madrid (2-13 December 2019). The Green Economy Recovery Plan aims to encourage recycling and promote green processing industries by establishing tax incentives for industrial companies that commit to reducing the emission of gases and chemical waste. In the field of gas flaring, efforts have made it possible to reduce gas flaring by 500 million m³ during 2020-2021. Sonatrach Oil and Gas Group has signed the Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative, launched in 2015 by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the World Bank Group, to end routine flaring by 2030. Recently, Algeria has set up a National Climate Plan 2020-2030 covering 155 projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the negative impacts of climate change, and support climate governance. It has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 7%, a rate that could rise to 22% by 2030 if it can receive support for significant projects to adapt to climate change. Algeria has adopted a program to convert vehicles to LPG while creating national structures to implement strategies for producing clean energy. It includes green hydrogen, and the revival of the Green Dam project with a view to its expansion to an area of 4.7 million hectares in the coming years is part of this strategy to fight against global warming.

3.- Algeria’s solidarity potential

But it is mainly thanks to its great solar potential (3000 hours) that Algeria is in an excellent position to produce electricity. Having an ambitious program for renewable energies to combine thermal for export and photovoltaic solar panels for the domestic market. In mid-July 2011, Algeria took delivery of the hybrid power plant at Hassi R’mel, with a total capacity of 150 MW, including 30 MW from the combination of gas and solar. This is an exciting experience. Combining 20% gas, cleaner than coal and oil, and 80% solar seems essential to reduce costs and master the technology. The Algerian program consists of installing a renewable power of nearly 22,000 MW by 2030/2035, of which 12,000 MW will be dedicated to covering national electricity demand and 10,000 MW for export. According to the Ministry of Energy, in 2030, the goal is to produce 40% of its electricity needs from renewable energies. The amount of public investment devoted by Algeria to the realization of its renewable energy development program by 2030 was initially set (between 2019/2020) at 60 billion dollars, requiring a national and international public-private partnership. Recently, the delegation led by the European Commissioner for Energy, visiting Algiers, committed to promoting investment in renewable energies and green hydrogen, the power of the future 2036/2040; this segment, in partnership with Algeria through interconnections, there is an opportunity to export to Europe. But other partnerships are possible, especially with China investing in these niches.

In conclusion, the irony of history, according to a recent UN 2022 report, in its worst projection, a warming of the temperature of the planet beyond 4 ° C under the title “threat to the Nile”, one of its jewels is threatened with disappearance where with the rise in sea level caused by global warming, 

The sea will rise by one meter, consequently engulfing a third of the very fertile land of the Nile Delta and historic cities; the coastal city of Alexandria could be underwater by 2050.” It also threatens all coasts of the world, including the Algerian coast. Peace in this region is essential for calmly addressing the strategic subject of global warming and, therefore, the irreversible energy transition that will change the world’s energy and economic power between 2025/2030/2040. However, with the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis, many countries have come to fall back on fossil fuels massively. Like most developing countries, Algeria is caught because air pollution is not their responsibility. the main culprits are the developed countries, China and Russia, and their commitments still need to be fulfilled under the second period of the Kyoto Protocol. It is the responsibility which lies primarily with the developed countries, significant polluters, with a catastrophic impact on developing countries, particularly in Africa where the commitments of COP 21 of the aid of 100 billion dollars have been very partially implemented. And the significant problem to be solved, a complicated equation, is to reconcile the legitimate development aspiration and the fight against global warming presupposing progressive adaptation strategies with the help of developed countries to achieve this transition. Let us hope this umpteenth meeting will propose concrete solutions to global warming.  

Dr Abderrahmane MEBTOULUniversity Professor, International Expert Doctor of State 1974 

Director of Studies Ministry of Industry and Energy 1974/1979-1990/1995-2000/2006-2013/2015 

Chairman of the Energy Transition Commission of 5+5+ Germany in June 2019 

ademmebtoul@gmail.com

The above image is of the African Development Bank/Atlantic Council.

 

Protecting Human Rights the Euro-Med Monitor Way

Protecting Human Rights the Euro-Med Monitor Way

Protecting Human Rights in the Euro-Med Monitor Way as proposed by Richard Falk, should not come as a surprise.  The Mediterranean Sea today is a vital corridor for the world.  It has been so for time immemorial.

The above image is of Encyclopedia Britannica

 

Protecting Human Rights the Euro-Med Monitor Way

 

Photograph Source: Lorenzo Tlacaelel – CC BY 2.0

Not as widely known as it deserves to be given its accomplishments and creative approach, is a small human rights civil society organization called Euro-Med Human Monitor (EMM). It was inspired 11 years ago by the oppressive conditions existing in Gaza, and founded by a group of activists led by Ramy Abdu, then a resident of Gaza while still a doctoral student at the University of Manchester.

From the beginning EMM’s dedication to the promotion of human rights spread beyond the borders of Occupied Palestine, and EMM now has offices or representatives in 17 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, known as the MENA region and Europe, it is becoming a truly international organization with headquarters in Geneva, supported by volunteers and representatives spread throughout the world. In its short lifetime EMM has developed a strong reputation for political independence, staff dedication, effectiveness and efficiency, and most of all for its distinctive way of operating.

To begin withl, EMM is youth-oriented and much of its work is done by volunteers who learn by doing and working as teams with more experienced defenders of human rights. By adopting this mode of work, EMM has avoided diversions of its energies by major fundraising efforts, preferring to move forward with a small budget offset by big ideas, an impressive record of performance, continually motivated by outrage resulting from the widespread wrongdoing of governments throughout MENA. The initial idea of Euro-Med Monitor was inspired by popular rebellions against tyranny and oppression. This spirit of resistance swept through the Arab region in 2011 and continues to make its influence felt everywhere. Euro-Med Monitor strives to support these movements by planting seeds for international mobilization and stimulating international organizations and decision-makers to focus on violations of the people’s right to expression, freedom, and self-determination.

Perhaps, one the most innovative features of EMM is its stress on empowering victims of abuse to tell their stories to the world in their own voices. A recent example was the testimony at the Human Rights Council in Geneva of Suhaila al-Masri, the grandmother of Fatima al-Masri, who told the heart-rending story of how her 20 month old granddaughter died of suffocation because her exit permit from Gaza to receive emergency treatment was delayed without reason. EMM prides itself by working with victims to recover their sense of worth in a variety of struggles against the abuses they endured in the hope of avoiding similar suffering by others. In this innovative sense the empowerment of victims is complemented by establishing sites for training young human rights defenders to go on to have a variety of societal roles as they older.

Another example of this empowerment ethos practiced by EMM involves a 22-yearr old Palestinian woman, Zainab al-Quolaq, who lost 22 members of her family in an air attack that destroyed her home in Gaza a few year ago.  Zainab herself miraculously survived despite being buried in rubble from the attack for 20 hours. EMM encouraged Zainab to write her story, but writing did not come easily to her, but it was discovered that she was a natural artist. Not only could she draw but she could depict a range of emotions, especially of torment and loss, that derived from her tragic encounter with the mass death of her family members. In what was a dramatic success story, Zainab al-Quolaq, began serious study of painting, going on to become an acclaimed artist, even holding gallery exhibitions of her work in her native Gaza, but also in Geneva, even in the United States, evoking media enthusiasm. Zainab also spoke before the Human rights Council on behalf of Euro-Med Monitor in March. EMM and UN Women helped her release her first booklet containing 9 of her paintings describing her feelings during and in the aftermath of the attack. After she was isolating herself for months following the traumatizing attack, Zainab is now more open and has begun a Master’s degree in business administration.

At this time, EMM feels its special identity is solidified by having 70% of its active staff either drawn from youth or from the ranks of those victimized by human rights abuses. The organization reaches out beyond victims of war and torture to more subtle forms of encroachment on human dignity such as prolonged refugee status or mistreatment of women. An instructive example is the encouragement of the formation of a Gaza initiative with the assertive name, We Are Not Numbers, suggesting human rights is about self-preservation of human identity under circumstances of pervasive oppression of which Gaza is the most vivid instance, but by no means the only site of such struggles within the MENA region.

It would be a mistake to suppose that EMM, despite its origins, was only concerned with the Palestinian agenda. A look at its Website or Twitter account would quickly dispel such an idea as would a glance at the titles of recent EMM reports or appearances before the Human Rights Council. Among the topic covered in recent reports are the targeting of journalists in Sudan, disguised and punitive racism toward MENA asylum seekers and immigrants from MENA, human displacement in Yemen, interferences with the freedom and safety of journalists in various countries within their scope of concern. EMM uses a network of 300 writers to tell the stories of those who have been abused when the victims themselves are not available. The overall EMM undertaking seeks to convey the issues of concern in different countries by employing what Ramy Abdu calls ‘the real discourse of the people.’

With its headquarters in Geneva, EMM is particularly active in the formal proceedings and side events associated with the Human Rights Council. It has mounted actions and testimony on such matters as opposition to EU surveillance of asylum seekers in Europe, arms exports to Yemen, and the rescue of persons who have been coercively disappeared in Yemen and Syria.

In my judgment, EMM is creating a new and exciting model for how to combine civil society activism with effective efforts to improve the overall protection of human rights. It is a young organization, but one with incredible promise, having already compiled a record to admire and emulate.

For contact Geneva@Euromedmonitor.org ; for website www.euromedmonitor.org 

Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, Chair of Global law, Queen Mary University London, and Research Associate, Orfalea Center of Global Studies, UCSB.

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MENA faces extreme climate change threat

MENA faces extreme climate change threat

MENA faces extreme climate change threat warns Greenpeace

In so many countries and communities across the globe, especially in the Global South, people feel the impacts of the climate crisis in their own flesh. Working with a team of researchers, this is what we’ve been documenting in the Middle East and North Africa, where lives are being lost, homes destroyed, crops are failing, livelihoods are jeopardised and cultural heritage is being wiped out.The Middle East and North Africa region is warming at twice the global average. Ecosystems, inhabitants and livelihoods in Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates are all suffering from the impact of rapid climate change.

Across North Africa, including the countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, climate change-induced warming is already more pronounced in the summer, and wet seasons are becoming progressively dryer. Recent multi-year droughts have been unprecedented in the past 500–900 years. Despite the naturally higher temperatures and lower rainfall across the Arabian Peninsula, trends of further warming and drying are also evident and are expected to worsen over the coming decades.

Because of climate change, Africa is heating up and drying out, and this heat is set to increase to a possible range of 3°C to 6°C by the end of the 21st Century if Africa’s reliance on dirty fossil fuels continues. Global heating is leading to heavier and less predictable precipitation on some parts of the African continent, heightening the dangers of floods and landslides, while other areas are battling hotter, drier conditions, prolonged droughts, locust infestations, water shortages and crop failures. And coastal communities are on the front line of rising sea levels and more damaging storms.

MENA faces extreme climate change threat iddle East and North Africa climate change impacts - Red Sea corals bleaching
Some Red Sea corals are already at the limit of their heat tolerance and continued increase in sea surface temperature could lead to widespread bleaching. © Paul Langrock / Greenpeace

Life in the MENA region is challenging from the outset, with many countries naturally experiencing very warm and dry conditions relative to other parts of the world. However, what is happening now is anything but natural.

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