May 17, 2022

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Harmful and beneficial ... while climate change pushes the Middle East closer

Harmful and beneficial … while climate change pushes the Middle East closer

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In the Middle East, where geo-strategic issues generally take precedence over environmental issues, climate turmoil has gained the upper hand in the course of relations between its countries, and the rules of the game are designed to change. Here, the countries of the region are trying to cooperate with each other to combat this phenomenon which is undermining all of their structures like never before.

The time for joint action and cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East is in this context. Climate Summit (COP 26), opened earlier this week in the Scottish city of Glasgow, where world leaders need to focus on their efforts to fight. Global warming events It hit the whole planet.

The current climate turmoil in this turbulent part of the world has become increasingly acute, where many conflicts and persistent geo-strategic tensions have become accustomed to pushing environmental issues to the secondary level of government priorities. Its greenhouse gas emissions are now higher than comparable emissions in the EU.

The severity of the situation prompted Cyprus Environment Minister Costas Cadiz on Tuesday, November 2, to declare that “we must act collectively and decisively on the basis of scientific knowledge.” Speaking at a session held within the framework of the Climate Summit 26, Costas Cadiz announced that he was organizing a ministerial-level meeting for regional countries with the aim of approving the Action Plan for Climate Cooperation in February 2022. In the next ten years.

Later, the heads of state concerned are expected to meet in Cyprus in early autumn to approve the project’s management plan, Cadiz said. This latest step is the culmination of Cyprus’ efforts to launch a climate change initiative in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East launched in 2019.

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Nicosia also hosted an international conference on climate change in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East in mid-October in Paphos. The results of the conference, which was attended by officials, delegates and scholars from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel in particular, were presented at the Glasgow Conference last Tuesday.

Area at risk of climate change

The so-called policy and action framework for the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East climate crisis focuses on sustainable green development, biodiversity conservation and environmental development, research and technology. These are all important issues in the Middle East, classified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as “Climate Change Risk”. The rise and fall of heat waves and rapid population growth made things worse and imposed its weight on already insignificant water resources. Temperatures in Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran hovered above 50 degrees Celsius this summer.

If these countries do not take decisive action, according to scientists, the situation could worsen rapidly, and nowhere else. In its first report, “Mediterranean Risk Assessment,” Mediterranean experts on climate and climate change released last year, “Most countries in the Middle East and North Africa are likely to face higher risks related to this. Climate and environmental change.” Compared to other areas in the Mediterranean basin, the ability to monitor or analyze risk for critical environmental parameters is very low. “

Diplomacy based on cooperation

Even Middle Eastern countries that have not signed the Paris climate agreement, such as Iraq, Iran and Yemen, which have been accused of neglecting environmental issues, have recently begun to take action in this regard. Especially in the Gulf, the economies of petroleum regimes are at the crossroads of criticism from environmental NGOs, and countries still rely heavily on the exploitation of hydrocarbon fuels. However, Saudi Arabia, which seeks to diversify its economy, announced last week that it aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. An action that is in line with the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates, which has so far begun the eco-strategy. The year is 2050. In particular, it aims to increase the share of clean energy from 25 to 50 percent and reduce the carbon footprint of electricity generation to 70 percent.

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It is also clear that other countries in the region have begun to rely on cooperation, in the hope that concerted and international efforts will have a greater impact on the region. A view translated into one of the forms of climate diplomacy already in place in the Middle East. In particular, between Israel and a few Arab countries with advanced technologies in this field.

Although the old repercussions have not changed, at the end of last July, the Israeli government postponed the implementation of a draft oil exchange agreement with the United Arab Emirates for environmental reasons after NGOs showed their teeth. Meanwhile, a few months ago, especially last June, the University of Tel Aviv, in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates – normalized its relationship with the Hebrew government in the summer of 2020 – is in the process of establishing a joint venture. Institute for Water Research.

Most recently, last October, Jordan, one of the world’s most water-scarce countries, signed an agreement to double the amount of water supplied to Israel, one of the world’s leading desalination countries. As part of this climate diplomacy, Israel could also provide Jordan with solar-powered green electricity.

The agreement “reflects a growing understanding that the climate crisis, which is already significantly affecting the region, will lead to greater cooperation,” said Kidan Bromberg, director of the Middle East Peace Environment Center for the Regional Environment Organization in Israel. In an article published by the British Guardian, he pointed out that “electricity has never crossed the Israeli border from its neighbors”, while calling for a “green deal” in the Middle East.

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Is tackling climate change a way to stave off future tensions?

However, this diplomacy is being used to prevent and protect against the effects of future water shortages and the rising temperatures that make some areas uninhabitable. There is already tension over the management of water resources, especially in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

It is in this sense that Jeffrey Sox, head of the Solutions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Network (UNSDSN), recently warned, “This is already an arid region and it will become more and more arid, and therefore associated with the availability of insecurity. Water and human migration will increase day by day.

Last July, several cities in the southwestern province of Kuznetsov staged several strikes and demonstrations against water shortages for daily consumption or for agriculture and livestock. The protests were mercilessly suppressed by Iranian authorities.

But according to the Mediterranean Institute for Climate Change and Climate Change, the impact of climate change on future conflicts will be somewhat speculative. Recent historical events, however, show the potential for noticeable and rapid climate change to increase political instability in poorer parts of the Mediterranean, “said Mediterranean experts in the Middle East, which represent a further destabilizing factor in the Middle East.

French text: Marc Dou | Arabic text: Hussein Emara