Keep buildings cool as it gets hotter

Keep buildings cool as it gets hotter

In most of the MENA and the Gulf region, we reach for the A/C control when entering any living or working space. But as we casually flip a switch, we tend not to consider all those carbon emissions caused by machines.  

After years of indulgence and as witnessed by all of the end results, climate change is forcing all to go green by trying to keep buildings cool as it gets hotter. Greening the Global Construction Industry has already engaged in developing new techniques, tools, products and technologies – such as heat pumps, better windows, more vital insulation, energy-efficient appliances, renewable energy and more imaginative design – has enabled emissions to stabilize the past few years.

The above image is of I Love Qatar

 

Keep buildings cool as it gets hotter

Windcatchers in Iran use natural air flow to keep buildings cool. Andrzej Lisowski Travel/Shutterstock

 

Keep buildings cool as it gets hotter by resurrecting traditional architectural techniques – podcast

By Gemma Ware, The Conversation and Daniel Merino, The Conversation

The Conversation Weekly podcast is now back after a short break. Every Thursday, we explore the fascinating discoveries researchers are using to make sense of the world and the big questions they’re still trying to answer.

In this episode we find out how “modern” styles of architecture using concrete and glass have often usurped local building techniques better suited to parts of the world with hotter climates. Now some architects are resurrecting traditional techniques to help keep buildings cool.

From western Europe to China, North Africa and the US, severe heatwaves brought drought, fire and death to the summer of 2022. The heatwaves also raised serious questions about the ability of existing infrastructure to cope with extreme heat, which is projected to become more common due to climate change.

Yet, for thousands of years, people living in parts of the world used to high temperatures have deployed traditional passive cooling techniques in the way they designed their buildings. In Nigeria, for example, people have long used biomimicry to copy the style of local flora and fauna as they design their homes, according to Anthony Ogbuokiri, a senior lecturer in architectural design at Nottingham Trent University in the UK.

But in the 20th century, cities even in very hot climates began following an international template for building design that meant cities around the world, regardless of where they were, often had similar looking skylines. Ogbuokiri calls this “duplitecture”, and says it “ramped up the cooling load” due to an in-built reliance on air conditioners.

Alongside this, there was a massive boom in the use of concrete, particularly after the second world war when the Soviet Union and the US started gifting their cold war allies concrete technology. “It was a competition both to discover who actually mastered concrete and who was better at gathering the materials, the people and the energy to make concrete,” explains Vyta Pivo, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan in the US. But too much concrete can contribute to the phenomenon of urban heat islands, where heat is concentrated in cities. Concrete is also a considerable contributor to global carbon emissions.

Some architects and researchers are working to rehabilitate and improve traditional passive techniques that help keep buildings cool without using energy. Susan Abed Hassan, a professor of architectural engineering at Al-Nahrain University in Baghdad, Iraq, focuses a lot on windcatchers in her work, a type of chimney which funnels air through houses to keep them cooler in hot climates. She’s now looking at how to combining underground water pipes with windcatchers to enhance their cooling effects.

Listen to the full episode to find out about other techniques being used to keep buildings cool without relying on air conditioning.

This episode was produced by Mend Mariwany, with sound design by Eloise Stevens. The executive producer was Gemma Ware. Our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. You can find us on Twitter @TC_Audio, on Instagram at theconversationdotcom or via email. You can also sign up to The Conversation’s free daily email here. A transcript of this episode is available here.

You can listen to The Conversation Weekly via any of the apps listed above, download it directly via our RSS feed, or find out how else to listen here.The Conversation

Gemma Ware, Editor and Co-Host, The Conversation Weekly Podcast, The Conversation and Daniel Merino, Assistant Science Editor & Co-Host of The Conversation Weekly Podcast, The Conversation

Read the original article.

The Conversation

The MENA’s Fight Against Climate Change

The MENA’s Fight Against Climate Change

The MENA’s Fight Against Climate Change

A child walks on the dried-up bed of Iraq’s receding southern marshes of Chibayish in Dhi Qar province on August 23, 2022. HUSSEIN FALEH ©AFP

The MENA’s Fight Against Climate Change: Oil-Rich versus Crisis-Riddled Countries

By Dana Hourany

 

The earliest known agricultural civilizations are thought to have started in present-day southern Iraq. Known as the “Fertile Crescent,” the area situated between the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers’, witnessed the birth of the earliest known sedentary civilizations on earth.

Mesopotamia, the earliest human settlement in the area, saw the development of agrarian societies, the domestication of animals, thriving agriculture, and the invention of irrigation methods owing to the Tigris and Euphrates’ abundant water supply.

In 2022, the UN Environment Program placed Iraq, which was long considered the “Cradle of Civilization,” as the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change.

The effects of climate change have long been most severe in IraqTemperatures have soared to more than 50 degrees Celsius, devastating water resources, food supplies, and agricultural livelihoods and needs.

Although Iraq is one of the MENA region’s most severely affected, environmental scientists and academics warn that if MENA governments continue to be inactive and unwilling to work together to create sustainable mitigation strategies, no country will be spared.

What went wrong?

In the past couple of years, Iraq’s annual rainfall has decreased exponentially causing more drought and structurally denting the agricultural sector.

While reasons vary, solutions are scarce. Upriver damming in Turkiye and Iran has restricted the water flow from the Tigris and Euphrates. Scorching temperatures affect soil moisture and salinization (increasing the amount of salt in the soil) have further degraded the land.

“The water that flows to the southern region is also extremely polluted. By the time it reaches us it is no longer the purified water that flows from the northern mountains of Turkiye. Ours is mixed with sewage, chemical pollutants and trash,” Basra-based researcher Mishtak Idan Obeid told Fanack.

The researcher added that the “diplomatic incompetency of politicians” has exacerbated the crisis since “Iraqi politicians have failed to negotiate with Turkiye and Iran, allowing them to take advantage of our water resources.”

Once a region of luscious greenery and a vibrant community of farmers, landowners and fishermen, it is now at great risk of desertification as farmers abandon their lands in hopes of landing better job opportunities elsewhere.

“This is their livelihood and main set of skills. If they move to urban areas they might not have access to job opportunities which can push them to unlawful activities, compounding local conflicts and putting pressure on an already fragile infrastructure,” environmental climate-security at The Hague’s Clingendael Institute, Maha Yassin told Fanack.

“The responsibility falls on the state to ensure these people are well taken care of to maintain civil security across the country,” she added.

More crisis for the crisis-riddled

Amidst this summer’s heatwave and crippling energy shortages, homes are plunging into darkness as power cuts become the norm in crisis-riddled Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Despite its abundant oil supply, the Iraqi electricity sector has seen years of neglect, deteriorating under the hands of corrupt leaders, according to analysts.

Similarly, cash-strapped Lebanon has been the subject of constant neglect and systemic corruption that crashed its economy and devastated its infrastructure. Unable to provide for itself, Lebanon relies on Iraqi oil imports to avert nationwide blackouts that now plague the country.

Syria’s power infrastructure as well has suffered heavy blows during the 11-year crisis causing frequent electricity cuts. Subsequently, many people in all three countries are turning to solar power to remedy the situation.

Syria’s state electric company has recently completed a 1-megawatt solar power station connected to the electricity grid, located between the central city of Homs and Syria’s Mediterranean coast. Only 50-250 houses will benefit from state solar energy.

Lebanese, on the other hand, are left to fend for themselves as many flock to private companies to purchase solar panels for their houses and businesses. As for the Iraqis, ambitions have been set to generate up to 12 GW of electricity from solar power by 2030, according to the Iraq oil report. However, political stalemate, disputes over payment terms and general political inefficiency have put the plans on hold.

“This is what sets Iraq apart from other oil-rich countries in the Gulf. Political instability and frequent protests push lawmakers to shelve important environmental projects,” Yassin said.

A huge impediment to decent living standards

While the peoples of crisis-affected MENA nations swelter the blazing summer heat, sandstorms add to their woes.

“Families have been going out less and less. People are forced to remain in their houses as if imprisoned and this is mentally taxing. You become easily irritable and unmotivated,” Obeid said.

Physical well-being is also at risk as Yassin puts it, “sandstorms compound pulmonary diseases such as bronchitis and asthma, while water pollution propagates cholera outbreaks and skin diseases.”

No country in the region is immune to climate change, but the effects are unequal and the solutions are unique.

“Climate change was never a top priority for MENA governments. The majority of environmental policies were developed as quick fixes. This has proven ineffective in an area that is prone to climate crises and has unequal mitigation capacities,” MENA Climate Change Expert Achref Chibani told Fanack.

In his 2022 research, “Sand and Dust Storms in the MENA Region: A Problem Awaiting Mitigation,” Chibani states that Gulf countries’ economic and technological advancements facilitate fielding faster and bigger projects to curb the climate’s impact, particularly sandstorms which he believes are only getting worse.

Saudi Arabia for instance is working on the “Saudi Green Initiative” and has invested several billion dollars in developing green belts, while the UAE has invested in new technologies that allow monitoring dust storms through a forecasting system to better prepare for any incoming threats.

Kuwait, on the other hand, reported dangerous air quality levels in some regions without discussing proper mitigation tactics.

Unlike Iraq, which suffers from similar breathing and temperature issues, most Kuwaitis enjoy day-long indoor cooling. Similar to Iraq though, Kuwaiti politicians delay finding solutions as inaction reigns over a comprehensive approach to tackle climate change.

North African countries at risk

According to Chibani’s observations, countries at most risk of climate crises are on the North African belt, while Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan sway behind. He says this is due to crops vanishing from North African fields, as well as threats of fiercer sandstorms, rising water stress, and soaring electric bills.

AlgeriaLibya, and Egypt are also dependent on the hydrocarbon industry and much of their revenue comes from exporting fossil fuels to Europe. Any negative diplomatic differences will therefore wreak havoc on economic security.

Tunisia, meanwhile suffers from limited natural freshwater resources, deforestation, soil erosion and rising sea levels. In addition to ravaging wildfires spread across North Africa and also Lebanon.

“Governments elevating the costs of electricity and water bills might make people more conscious of how much they’re wasting. However farmers need to switch to harvesting crops that consume less water for irrigation to further preserve our resources,” Chibani said.

Divided, we fall

Egypt will host the 27th UN climate Change Conference in November, which encompasses over 40 countries, in hopes of pushing a climate agenda suitable for the MENA’s challenges and needs.

However, Chibani notes that the region lacks environmental research that could contribute to future projects.

Until then, civil society and renewable energy seem to be the most productive remedies. Around 312 NGOs support the MENA’s environmental causes including bio-diversity, conservation, and protection. However, Yassin says that their existence is endangered by state corruption, scarcity of funds, and governmental pressures.

“Civil society groups run the risk of sounding like politicians when employing rhetoric that citizens perceive to be elitist and condescending. There needs to be more work done on climate change messaging for non-Western audiences,” Chibani noted.

Obeid points to the importance of civilian involvement in minute details such as conserving water and maintaining the cleanliness of public areas while keeping in mind that responsibility falls primarily on the governments that are not leading the way for people to follow.

“I estimate that in 30 years the MENA will have less water and more sand threatening its environment. Countries must cooperate, otherwise the whole region is in danger, particularly its poorer communities. Well-off countries need to help the economically vulnerable states to salvage what’s left of the region’s environmental richness,” Chibani said.

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Climate change could devastate Mideast, East Mediterranean

Climate change could devastate Mideast, East Mediterranean

An international team of scientists warned that Climate change could devastate the Mideast and the East Mediterranean. Let us see what it’s all about.

The above picture is of EUROACTIV

Climate change could devastate Mideast, East Mediterranean

A man carries a fishing rod during sunset along the shoreline in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, 230 km (140 miles) north of Cairo, July 12, 2011. Alexandria, with 4 million people, is Egypt’s second-largest city and also one of the Middle East’s cities most at risk from rising sea levels due to global warming. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Climate change could devastate Mideast, East Mediterranean – scientists

NICOSIA, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Climate change could have a devastating effect on the lives of millions in the East Mediterranean and Middle East, where temperatures are rising nearly twice as fast as the global average, an international team of scientists warned.

The region could see an overall warming of up to 5 degrees Celsius or more by the end of the century on a business-as-usual scenario, a report prepared by the Cyprus Institute said.

That temperature spike was almost twice that anticipated in other areas of the planet, and faster than any other inhabited parts of the world, it said.

The report, prepared under the auspices of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Climate and Atmosphere Research Center of The Cyprus Institute, will be submitted at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) taking place in Egypt in November.

A combination of reduced rainfall and weather warming will contribute to severe droughts, compromising water and food security, with many countries unprepared for rising sea levels, one expert said.

“This (scenario) would imply severe challenges for coastal infrastructure and agriculture, and can lead to the salinization of costal aquifers, including the densely populated and cultivated Nile Delta,” said Dr. George Zittis of the Cyprus Institute, an author of the report.

Meeting the main targets of the Paris Agreement, a global pact of countries to cut emissions, could stabilize the annual temperature increase to about 2 degrees Celsius.

Scientists recommend rapid implementation of decarbonization actions with a particular emphasis on the energy and transportation sectors.

“Since many of the regional outcomes of climate change are transboundary, stronger collaboration among the countries is indispensable to cope with the expected adverse impacts,” said Jos Lelieveld, director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, institute professor at the Cyprus Institute, and coordinator of the assessment.

Writing By Michele Kambas; Editing by Bernadette Baum
Read original Reuters
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Promising new Agenda for Tackling Climate Change

Promising new Agenda for Tackling Climate Change

Promising a new Agenda for Tackling Climate Change can be achieved through defusing ‘carbon bombs’ per Kjell Kühne, University of Leeds who elaborates:

The image above is of the UNESCO

Why defusing ‘carbon bombs’ offers a promising new agenda for tackling climate change

Promising new Agenda for Tackling Climate Change
Nubli Alwi AlFarisi/Shutterstock

Kjell Kühne, University of Leeds

A carbon bomb is a fossil fuel extraction project, such as a coal mine, that can cause over a gigatonne of CO₂ emissions during its lifetime. That’s a billion tonnes – more than twice the UK’s annual emissions from a single project.

In our latest research, my colleagues and I found that there are 425 of these carbon bombs worldwide. Collectively, they can unleash over 1,000 gigatonnes of CO₂ emissions, which far exceeds the world’s carbon budget for staying below 1.5°C of warming (around 500 gigatonnes in 2017) – the world’s agreed target for limiting climate change.

Even though it is now recognised, even by the conservative International Energy Agency, that no new fossil fuel projects must be built to avert catastrophic climate change, fossil fuel companies are working on setting off dozens of new carbon bombs while raking in record profits off the back of temporarily high fossil fuel prices.

For decades, and thanks to efforts by the US, Saudi Arabia and other countries with entrenched fossil fuel interests, UN climate talks have avoided the obvious solution: halting fossil fuel extraction and use. It seems this taboo was finally broken in Glasgow in November 2021, where phasing down coal burning was mentioned in the officially adopted text of COP26 for the first time. But a credible plan from governments to limit fossil fuel extraction is still missing.

This next vital step in climate policy might become more tractable by framing each new mine or oilfield as a potential carbon bomb. It’s not hard to figure out that if some countries set off their bombs, others won’t be able to, because carbon space in the atmosphere is limited. This simple insight into the physics of climate change has so far been ignored by world leaders.

The carbon bombs concept helps us understand that rich countries like Germany digging lignite or Canada cooking tar sands to extract some of the world’s dirtiest oil takes up carbon space which means Saudi oil and Qatari gas will have to stay in the ground. Roughly 80% of all carbon bombs are concentrated in just 12 countries: China, US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Qatar, Canada, Iraq, India, Brazil, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Any one of these could convene talks on defusing carbon bombs.

Or perhaps another government that has similar projects under its belt, say Germany, Norway, Colombia or the UK, which is poised to increase drilling for gas in the North Sea. A fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, akin to the cold war nuclear non-proliferation treaty which aimed to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, could bind national commitments in a global agreement.

The fuses not yet lit

When we compiled our list of carbon bombs to understand the global picture of fossil fuel extraction, we learned that 40% of these projects hadn’t started yet. This means that there is still time to scare away investors of new carbon bombs through campaigning and lawsuits.

Because these projects are so huge, they take years to prepare and operate on a timescale of decades – and their breakeven points, where they start generating a profit, invariably lie many years in the future.

Promising new Agenda for Tackling Climate Change

An excavator loads coal onto a truck.

Coal is the most carbon-rich fossil fuel.
Kemdim/Shutterstock

For the climate movement, these huge, slow-moving targets are a constructive challenge which offer many opportunities for intervention, as recent sanctions against Russia have made clear: some Russian carbon bombs look unlikely to proceed without support from other countries.

Thanks to the interconnectedness of the fossil fuel industry globally, very few carbon bombs can go ahead without any foreign involvement, be it through finance, insurance or equipment manufactured abroad.

While the term “carbon bomb” sounds frightening, it bears great potential for transforming the way people look at the effort to mitigate climate change. The call to “reduce emissions” – a mantra that’s been repeated by governments for the past 30 years – isn’t sparking an emergency response on par with the challenge of the climate crisis. Meanwhile, talking about carbon bombs makes no secret of the fact that global heating kills people, just as bombs do.

Time to get to work. Pick your carbon bomb and help cut the fuse. There are 425 of them smouldering.


 


Kjell Kühne, PhD Candidate in Geography, University of Leeds

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

The Conversation

Cascading climate risks & options for resilience and adaptation in the MENA

Cascading climate risks & options for resilience and adaptation in the MENA

In the summer of 2022, cascading climate risks and options for resilience and adaptation in the MENA are evident for all to witness. A write-up by Cascades.eu deserves to be looked at again, and every word in it is worth this trouble. It is a report on the southern face of the Mediterranean Sea and its northern facade.   

There has been a lot of information on the disruption to Earth’s freshwater cycle exceeding the safe limit in the MENA region, but this ultimately is well rounded as it was reported on all aspects of the environment in the same region today.

Here is a summary.

 

This report assesses the current situation and future projections of possible and likely biophysical climate impacts in the MENA region, based on a literature review, news articles and CASCADES climate impact data analysis.

Cascading climate risks and options for resilience and adaptation in the Middle East and North Africa

Climate change is a shared challenge for the MENA and European regions

The societies of Europe and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are historically, socially and economically intertwined. Climate change presents a shared and urgent challenge. Stretching from Morocco in the west to Syria in the north, Iran in the east and Yemen in the south, the MENA region covered by this report comprises 19 countries and is home to an estimated 472 million people, with a fast-growing young population. Conditions are diverse with some nations registering among the highest national income per capita in the world (e.g. Qatar, Kuwait, UAE) while others are low-income, conflict-affected societies, where human displacement and extreme poverty are rife (e.g. parts of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Libya).

The MENA region is exposed to physical climate impacts that threaten human life and political stability on several fronts. Water and agricultural production are particularly sensitive to the extremes of global warming, given the region’s already arid and semi-arid climates. Sea level rise threatens rapidly expanding urban and industrial coastlines over the next century and most cities are ill-prepared for the ravages of cyclones, sand storms and flooding. Humidity may become the most serious challenge to human life, especially for coastal cities.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region covered by this report

Cascading climate risks & options for resilience and adaptation in the MENA

Climate change is already interacting with more immediate threats from armed conflict, environmental degradation, corruption and social and gender inequalities. Such compound conditions have worsened the humanitarian fallout from flooding in war-torn Yemen and facilitated extremist militant recruitment in drought-affected northern Iraq. Across the region, the role of long-term environmental mismanagement in worsening the impacts of climate change is brutally clear.

How communities and governments respond to evolving climatic conditions will affect the severity of effects that cross borders and continents, ‘cascading’ into European societies. As witnessed with forest fires in Lebanon in 2019 and recent water shortages in Iraq, Iran and Algeria, government failure to deal with environmental stress can trigger violent, potentially revolutionary, protests. Figure 1 illustrates variation in the capacity to cope with and adapt to climate threats. While all countries are challenged by their levels of fresh water relative to population and none are ranked as politically ‘sustainable’, some have a larger economic cushion to enable adaptation than others. The countries towards the right of the figure, affected by war and economic crisis, are the most vulnerable.

At the same time, climate change policies and rapidly changing costs of technology will alter oil- and gas-dominated trade relationships with MENA countries. Europe’s demand for petroleum imports is set to decline and new regulations for green growth and alignment with the Paris Agreement goals will affect imports and foreign investment. As Figure 2 shows, most countries would not be able to sustain their current economies for long with oil prices below
$50/barrel. These present both challenges and opportunities for MENA countries and several are pursuing long-term visions for economic diversification, the success of which will depend on new investment and trade relations.

The MENA region already imports more than 50 per cent of its food and will require increasing foreign exchange to meet growing demand. Meanwhile, sensitivity to food price rises due to, for example, droughts in other parts of the world, is high.

Figure 1. MENA country variation in renewable freshwater availability, socio-political stability and spending capacity

Cascading climate risks & options for resilience and adaptation in the MENA

Figure 2. Oil and gas dependence in selected MENA exporter countries

Cascading climate risks & options for resilience and adaptation in the MENA

Climate resilience strategies, green economic diversification and investment in long-term adaptation are critical to achieving sustainable peace and prosperity in the region. The European Union (EU) and European countries can harness existing relationships, investments and capacities to contribute to this effort. These range from the EU’s evolving neighbourhood partnerships, humanitarian assistance and development bank lending to traditional bilateral diplomacy, trade agreements and engagement with UN bodies. The EU is already extending the principles of its Green Deal to partnerships in its Southern Neighbourhood with reinvigorated commitment to green transition and climate resilience through the Agenda for the Mediterranean. With a fast-changing combination of conditions intersecting with climate change, EU institutions and businesses will need to both learn lessons from the past and anticipate new realities on the ground.

The purpose of this report

This report assesses the current situation and future projections of possible and likely biophysical climate impacts in the MENA region, based on a literature review, news articles and CASCADES climate impact data analysis.

The authors adopt a water–food–energy nexus perspective, given that this resonates with environmental interests in the region. However, this concept remains open to new understandings that put a greater emphasis on ecosystems and well-being – for example, air quality, biodiversity and nutrition. Irrigation for crops and agricultural processing, water for energy, energy for potable water as well as oil and gas revenues to pay for food imports are some of the dependencies that climate change is challenging in the region. These are also some critical areas offering opportunities for resilience-building.

Scenarios illustrate ways in which climate impacts in the MENA could compound other stresses and cascade, with effects that cross borders and affect Europe and European interests. Figure 3 shows a generic example of cascading risks. We highlight five subregions: Iraq (with relevance for Iran and Syria), North Africa, the Jordan Valley, the Nile and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Sister CASCADES studies on the Euphrates–Tigris Basin and North Africa, which are referred to in this study, provide more insight. The purpose of the scenarios is to enhance understanding of how resilience and adaptive actions might help to mitigate risks and limit the scope of harm that climate impacts could set in motion.

Figure 3. An example of climate-related risks in the MENA that can cascade across borders

Cascading climate risks & options for resilience and adaptation in the MENA

Research benefited greatly from a series of interviews and workshops with regional
experts. There are significant geographical, climatic and political differences between the subregions and within several countries. As such, this can only be a broad-brush introduction to the changes taking place and their interactions with ongoing resource and societal issues. The views and opinions of experts in the region have shaped the report’s discussion of vulnerability and resilience factors, the scenarios for the future and the recommendations.

Key findings

Climate impacts are damaging human security in the MENA, yet resilience to climate change has been low on most public and political agendas. Climate change, particularly in the form of drought, flooding and storms, is already threatening lives and economies. The water and agricultural crises in Iraq are a case in point. Authorities and people in the region have generally not considered climate change and environmental health urgent issues, given more immediate threats of war, poverty, unemployment and human rights abuses. However, this is changing. In Oman, for example, cyclone devastation has spurred greater attention to disaster risk reduction (DRR) preparation for climate change. Civil society, particularly in parts of the Levant and North Africa, is increasingly vocal on environmental issues, often tackling them through a heritage conservation, local economy or social justice lens.

The two upcoming climate summits (COP27 and COP28) to be hosted by Egypt and the UAE, and the Saudi-led Middle East Green Initiative provide platforms for stronger cross-regional coordination and international partnerships.

Over the next 30 years, current water use, agricultural and building practices will become untenable; beyond 2050, liveability in the MENA region will be determined significantly by our global emissions trajectory. Irrespective of mitigation, cumulative emissions mean that the current warming trajectory will continue until at least around mid-century. While there are fewer long-term projections focusing on a 1.5°C scenario, this would suggest a far less damaging prospect for MENA countries than 2°C+, given existing aridity and coastal exposure. The extent of coastal land mass loss through sea level rise in this century will largely be determined by these trends.

Local and regional treatment of the environment is integral to climate risks. In all cases, local human developments and practices such as the density of population, overgrazing and monocropping, urban development on floodplains, damming of rivers, land reclamation and destruction of natural barriers such as mangroves and deforestation affect the vulnerability and severity of impact of climate-related events. At the same time, governance factors such as lack of transboundary water management systems, insufficient rule of law and military occupation affect a society’s ability to take resilience and adaptation measures.

Without effective measures, climate impacts will compound local vulnerabilities and have severe consequences for human lives, livelihoods, economies and security in the region. For example, in the absence of radical changes in water management and food production methods, competition among water users will grow and food security will diminish. While poorer and conflict-affected countries remain the most vulnerable, richer ones also face high risks.
Transition risks will be at least as important as physical climate risks for economies depending on oil and gas export revenues. The sensitivities of failing public services including water provision and electricity, combined with higher food prices and declining ability to pay for imports, could lead to political instability (as shown in Figure 3).

Cascading risk scenarios show how climate impacts in the MENA could affect EU interests, including the prospects for peace, development and business investments, expatriate workers, migration flows, human rights and the demand for international humanitarian aid. They also suggest how things might play out differently depending on national, regional and international factors, which will determine the ability to cope with and adapt to climate stresses. Three broad medium-term meta scenarios – stagnation, fragmentation and cooperation – suggest different outcomes (see Figure 4). The actions of major powers, including the EU, will strongly influence how these factors evolve. More concerted, thoughtful diplomacy is essential to reduce conflict and to address shared environmental issues.

Figure 4. Meta scenarios for 2025–2035 which would affect countries’ ability to respond and adapt to climate change

Cascading climate risks & options for resilience and adaptation in the MENA

Recommendations

In early 2022, the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made clear that the window of opportunity for climate resilient development is closing and will require transformative adaptation measures. This report identifies urgent priorities for the MENA region in the areas of improving water management, regeneration of landscapes and infrastructure resilience. National stakeholders and their international partners cannot address these effectively without acting within the wider political and economic context to strengthen sustainable peace and good governance.

Firstly, climate resilience and adaptation projects must include co-benefits that meet immediate country needs and align with national aspirations.

Secondly, given the transboundary nature of many of the risks we discuss above, planners should consider how measures might promote greater cooperation. This could be through knowledge sharing and technical exchanges, infrastructure that benefits more than one country, cross-border community land restoration and joint early warning systems and DRR cooperation.

Thirdly, deepening engagement with local cultural and religious understandings will be important in fostering stronger, long-term public awareness and more equal partnerships for environmental resilience.

Exploring future scenarios can improve understanding of how climate impacts might interact with societal dynamics, and suggest how investments might foster better conditions for long-term adaptation. For example, a particular challenge noted by regional experts was the lack of enablement at municipal, civil society and micro- to-medium-sized enterprise levels. The immense human capacity of the region, fully inclusive of women and youth, will be essential to address climate and environmental challenges nimbly, and with greater co-benefits for societal well-being.

The report makes six recommendations for EU approaches in the region. The EU should:

  1. Take advantage of its role as a major trading partner of the region to push for regional peace and cooperation through alignment with its European Green Deal. The EU’s Agenda for the Mediterranean (AfM) , launched in 2021, aims to do just this. As cooperation and investment packages develop, careful thought should be given to creating policy coherence across the five key policy areas, and with member states.¹
  2. Provide climate change modelling tools to support national and local scenario building and assist with monitoring and early warning systems for climate-related hazards. Emerging and existing programmes such as Copernicus² and I-CISK³ could be usefully extended or deployed through partnerships to improve local knowledge production.
  3. Explore ways in which remedial and post-conflict rehabilitation work can help address humanitarian needs while fostering long-term environmental resilience. This could include assessing and supporting local action to remediate conflict-affected environments and encourage green infrastructure.
  4. Build climate resilience in cities and subnational areas of the MENA region by developing technical skills to address climate-related issues and manage the water–energy–food nexus. This would build on the ‘human-centred’ approach of the AfM, targeting solutions-oriented capacity building at the municipal and community levels.
  5. Pay close attention to the effectiveness of mechanisms to scale up sustainable finance and disburse funds, taking into account the respective capabilities of centralized bureaucracies versus local agencies and other actors in the area concerned. Greater inclusion of civil society, women, youth and vulnerable groups in consultation and decision- making can help improve accountability.
  6. Use financial instruments for climate resilience and adaptation to empower local actors and build better national to subnational linkages. EU partnerships could, for example, help to scale up projects initiated by civil society organizations that have proven successful by linking them up with the relevant government authorities and making follow-up funding conditional on co-created plans for implementation.

Endnotes

  1. These are: 1) Human development, good governance and the rule of law; 2) Strengthen resilience, build prosperity and seize the digital transition; 3) Peace and security; 4) Migration and mobility; and 5) Green transition: climate resilience, energy, and environment.
  2. Copernicus is the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme.
  3. Innovating Climate services through Integrating Scientific and local Knowledge (I-CISK) is an EU-funded project running from 2021 to 2025.

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