The Middle East is warming at nearly twice the global average, threatening potentially devastating effects on its people and economies, according to a new climate study.
Barring rapid policy changes, its more than 400 million people face extreme heat waves, prolonged droughts and rising sea levels, according to the report released ahead of the COP27 climate summit in the United Nations in Egypt later this year.
The study found an average increase of 0.45 degrees Celsius per decade in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean region, based on data from 1981 to 2019, during which the global average increase was 0. .27 degrees per decade.
Without immediate changes, the region is expected to warm by five degrees Celsius by the end of the century, possibly exceeding “critical thresholds of human adaptability” in some countries, the report says.
People “will face major health challenges and livelihood risks, especially disadvantaged communities, the elderly, children and pregnant women,” wrote Jos Lelieveld of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and Science. the Cyprus Institute, both of which supported the research.
The study covers the region stretching from Greece and Egypt in the west to Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and the Gulf States of Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates United as well as Iran to the east.
The Middle East not only stands to suffer severely from climate change, but has also become a major contributor, according to the report first published in June in the journal Reviews of Geophysics and updated this week.
The study shows that the oil-rich Middle East is set to become one of the world’s biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, overtaking the European Union within a few years.
Lelieveld warned that, “since many regional outcomes of climate change are transboundary, closer collaboration between countries is essential to address the expected negative impacts.”
Lead author George Zittis wrote that “usual pathways for the future” would expand arid climatic zones and that rising seas would “imply severe challenges to coastal infrastructure and agriculture”, particularly affecting the delta of the Densely populated Nile River in Egypt.
According to the report, “virtually all” areas of life will be “severely affected” by hotter and drier climatic conditions, potentially contributing to higher death rates and exacerbating “inequalities between the wealthiest and poorest populations”. poorest” in the region.
Representatives from nearly 200 countries are due to meet in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in November to follow up on the 2015 Paris Agreement, which saw nations pledge to limit global warming to “well in below” two degrees (3.6 degrees). Fahrenheit) and work towards a safer cap of 1.5 degrees through sweeping emission reductions.
The planet has warmed by an average of nearly 1.2 degrees since the industrial era. In May, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization said there was an equal chance that the 1.5 degree target would be exceeded within the next five years.
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