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Middle East ‘extremely vulnerable’, heating twice as fast as rest of the world


A study released by Greenpeace on Wednesday stated that the Middle East faces a high risk of food and water shortages, extreme heat waves, and other climate-related hazards.

The “Living on the Edge” report, which was released just days before the UN climate conference in Egypt, concentrated on Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.

It was discovered that the Middle East is warming almost twice as quickly as the rest of the world, making its water and food supplies “extremely vulnerable” to climate change.

The report read, “In all six countries discussed in this report, there will be a very high risk of water scarcity in all regions, which will negatively affect agriculture and human health.”

Drought and water scarcity could impact crop yields in future decades, which will exacerbate reliance on food imports, the report added.

Kathryn Miller, science consultant at Greenpeace Research Laboratories said in a statement, “The region as a whole is warming fast, with an accelerated rate of 0.4 degrees Celsius per decade since the 1980s — nearly twice the global average.”

The report predicted that 80% of the Middle East’s and North Africa’s densely populated cities would likely experience heat waves for at least half of the warm season by the turn of the century.

Peak temperatures during extreme future heatwaves could exceed 56 degrees Celsius in some areas, including the Gulf region (132 Fahrenheit).

Already, the consequences are being felt. Greenpeace regional director Ghiwa Nakat said, “Lives are being lost, homes destroyed, crops are failing, livelihoods are jeopardised and cultural heritage is being wiped out.”

“It is absolutely vital that we transition away from fossil fuels and move towards energy independence,” Nakat added.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia, two major oil exporters, make the case for continuing to invest in fossil fuels in order to finance the switch to clean energy.

The Greenpeace study was released ahead of Sunday’s start of the COP27 climate conference in Egypt. The most recent round of climate negotiations will feature participation from nearly 200 nations.

The goal set at COP26 last year, which the world is on track to miss given current emission trends, was to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

According to the report, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is warming almost twice as quickly as the global average and is especially susceptible to the effects and impacts of climate change, including extreme water scarcity.

Greenpeace MENA is requesting climate justice from world leaders at COP27 in the form of the establishment and funding of a loss and damage finance facility to compensate vulnerable communities that have been severely affected by the climate crisis. 

(With inputs from AFP)


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