Iran says it will not rush ‘accelerated’ nuclear deal

Cairo – Temperatures in the Middle East have risen faster than the world average over the past three decades. Rainfall is decreasing, and experts predict that drought will come with greater frequency and severity.
The Middle East is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to the effects of climate change – and its effects are already being seen.
In Iraq, strong sandstorms have repeatedly battered cities this year, shutting down commerce and sending thousands to hospitals. Rising soil salinity is eating away important agricultural land in the Nile Delta of Egypt. In Afghanistan, drought has helped promote the migration of youth from their villages in search of employment. In recent weeks, temperatures in parts of the region have risen above 50 °C (122 Fahrenheit).
This year’s annual UN climate change conference, known as COP27, is being held in Egypt in November, throwing a spotlight on the region. Governments in the Middle East have woken up to the dangers of climate change, especially the damage it is already hurting their economies.
“We are literally seeing the effects before us. … These impacts are not something that will affect us nine or 10 years down the line,” said Lama El Hato, an environmental climate change consultant who worked with the World Bank. and specializes in the Middle East and North Africa.
“More and more states are beginning to understand that it is necessary” to act, she said.
Egypt, Morocco and other countries in the region are taking initiatives for clean energy. But a top priority for them at COP-27 is to push for more international funding to help them tackle the threats they already face from climate change.
One reason for the vulnerability of the Middle East is that millions of people have no margin to cushion the blow as the rise in temperature accelerates: the region already has high temperatures and limited water resources even under normal conditions.
The International Monetary Fund noted in a report earlier this year that governments in the Middle East have limited ability to adapt. Economies and infrastructure are weak, and rules are often not enforced. Poverty is widespread, making job creation a priority over climate protection. Egypt’s autocratic governments severely restrict civil society, hindering an important tool in engaging the public on environmental and climate issues.
At the same time, developing countries are pushing for emissions cuts in the Middle East and elsewhere, even as they themselves are backing down on promises.
The threats are dire.
As the region becomes hotter and drier, the United Nations has warned that Middle East crop production could drop by 30 percent by 2025. According to the world, the region is expected to lose 6 percent–14 percent of its GDP by 2050 due to water scarcity. Bank.
According to the World Bank, rainfall in Egypt has fallen 22 percent in the past 30 years.
The drought is expected to become more frequent. According to NASA, the eastern Mediterranean recently saw its worst drought in 900 years, a heavy blow for countries like Syria and Lebanon where agriculture is dependent on rainfall. The demand for water in Jordan and the countries of the Arabian Gulf continues to put pressure on underground aquifers. In Iraq, increased aridity has led to an increase in sandstorms.
At the same time, warm water and wind make extreme and often devastating weather events more frequent, such as the deadly floods that repeatedly affect Sudan and Afghanistan.
Climate damage has potentially dangerous social consequences.
Karim Elgendi, an associate fellow at Chatham House, said many people who lost their livelihoods in agriculture or tourism would move to cities in search of jobs. This is likely to increase urban unemployment, put pressure on social services and increase social tensions and affect security, said Elgendi, who is also a non-resident scholar with the Middle East Institute.
The IMF estimates that adapting the infrastructure and economy to weather the damage will be very costly: the equivalent of 3.3 percent of the region’s GDP each year for the next 10 years. Spending needs to range from building more efficient water use systems and new farming methods to building coastal defenses, strengthening social safety nets and improving awareness campaigns.
That’s why one of the top priorities for the Middle East and other developing countries at this year’s COP is pressure on the United States, Europe and other wealthy countries to follow through on longstanding promises to provide them with billions in climate financing. Pour out
So far, developed nations have fallen short of those promises. In addition, much of the money they provide has gone to help pay for poorer countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – in UN terminology for “mitigation”, as opposed to “adaptation”.
For this year’s COP, the top theme reiterated by UN officials, Egyptian hosts and climate activists is the implementation of commitments. The gathering is intended to prompt countries to talk about how they will reach the promised emissions reduction targets – and to come up with even deeper cuts, as experts say the targets are still at catastrophic levels of warming. will give birth to
Developing countries will also want rich countries to show how they will fulfill the promise from the last COP to provide $500 billion in climate financing over the next five years – and to ensure that at least half of the money is for adaptation. , not for quenching.
However, world events threaten to slow the pace from COP26. Over emissions cuts, rising world energy prices and the war in Ukraine have prompted some European countries to turn back to coal for electricity generation – although they insist this is only a temporary step. There are also many countries in the Middle East whose economies depend on their fossil fuel resources – Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf most obviously, but also Egypt, with its increasing natural gas production.
Persistent inflation and the prospect of a recession may make top countries hesitant to make climate financing commitments.
With international authorities often emphasizing emissions reductions, El Hato said it should be remembered that Africa, the Middle East and other countries in the developing world that have not contributed significantly to climate change are still bearing the brunt. .
“We need to talk about financing for adaptation,” she said, “to adapt to a problem they didn’t create.”