First Published: 2012-12-05

 

World Bank warns Arab world of devastating climate change

 

Bank’s report warns global warming will have dire consequences on Middle East and North Africa.

 

Middle East Online

By Mariette le Roux - DOHA

Alarming report

Global warming will have dire consequences for the Middle East and North Africa, with even hotter and drier conditions devastating everything from agriculture to tourism, a World Bank report said on Wednesday.

On current trends, average temperatures in Arab countries are likely to rise by as much as three degrees Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) by 2050 -- and double that for night-time temperatures, said the report released at UN climate talks in Doha.

Rainfall in the region with the world’s lowest endowment of fresh water is projected to become even more unreliable, and flash floods more frequent.

"The climate of Arab countries will experience unprecedented extremes," warned the report.

"Temperatures will continue to reach record highs, and in many places there will be less rainfall. Water availability will be reduced, and with a growing population the already water-scarce region may not have sufficient supplies to irrigate crops, support industry, and provide drinking water.

"Climate change will not only challenge the status quo: it will threaten the basic pillars of development."

Negotiators from nearly 200 countries are gathered in the Qatari capital to thrash out a deal on reducing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions and provide funding to help developing nations, many in this region, deal with a changing climate.

The United Nations is targeting a global warming limit of two degrees Celsius from industrial age levels, but several reports have recently warned that Earth is heading for double this on current emissions trends.

The World Bank said climate change has, or soon will, affect most of the 340 million people in the Arab region -- but the 100 million poorest, with fewer resources to adapt, will feel it most.

It will affect livelihoods -- causing a cumulative drop in household incomes of about seven percent in Syria and Tunisia and 24 percent in Yemen, said the report.

All but six Arab countries already suffer from water scarcity, which is defined as less than 1,000 cubic metres (264,200 gallons) of water per person per year.

Climate change is expected to reduce water runoff by another 10 percent by 2050, while demand will grow by 60 percent.

On top of water scarcity and even more scorching temperatures, farmers will also have to contend with saline intrusion from the sea, new pests and a drop in soil fertility, said the report.

The current rate of increase in agricultural production is likely to slow over the next few decades, and may start to decline after about 2050.

"This is alarming because almost half of the Arab region’s population lives in rural areas, and 40 percent of employment is derived from agriculture."

Tourism will also suffer.

Contributing about $50 billion dollars (38 billion euros) to the Arab region's purse today, about three percent of its gross domestic product and six percent of employment, the sector is likely to be hard hit once tourists start opting for milder climes.

"Snowfall in Lebanon (for skiing), Red Sea coral reefs, and many ancient monuments across the region are threatened by climate change and severe weather," said the World Bank.

Higher temperatures also pose serious health risks as vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue are introduced to new areas, and malnutrition rises as food becomes scarcer.

The report urged urgent political intervention to ensure climate adaptation plans were integrated into all national policies.

Governments must collect climate data, promote more effective farmland management, fund research into drought resistant crops and invest in waste water treatment plants, it said.

"As the climate becomes ever more extreme, so will its impacts on people’s livelihoods and well-being," said Inger Andersen, World Bank vice president for the Middle East and North Africa region.

"The time to take actions at both the national and regional level in order to increase climate resilience is now."

 

Syria army agrees to respect truce in Syria’s Aleppo

Long Erdogan-Davutoglu honeymoon coming to an end

Israel strikes Hamas sites in Gaza

UN urges to take action over rebel fire on besieged Yemen city

Will London elect its first Muslim mayor?

Tunisia confident border trade with Libya will resume 'very soon'

Malta likely to become first EU member to open Libya mission

Qaeda threatens to target homes of Yemen security forces

Anti-ISIS coalition pledges additional military commitment

UN warns Eastern Aleppo may soon become besieged

London set to elect its first Muslim Mayor

Fierce fighting rages in Aleppo as diplomacy efforts intensify

Riyadh's $22.5 bn Metro project on track

Egypt court sentences prominent activist to six months in prison

UK to take in more Syria child refugees

France to host Saudi, Qatar, UAE, Turkey FMs for Syria talks

US expects more military resources for anti-ISIS fight

Standoff escalates between Egypt journalists and authorities

Turkey says ready to send ground troops to Syria 'if necessary'

Hamas accuses Fatah of organising military cell in Gaza

Egypt court acquits Mubarak's last PM

Israel to upgrade ties with NATO as Turkey lifts veto

Passengers injured as Etihad flight hits severe turbulence

Israeli tanks fire shots over Gaza border

5th edition of Middle East Homeland Security Summit to be held in Amman in November

Money and revenge push Syrians to jihadist ranks

EU conditionally backs visa-free travel for Turks, overhauls asylum system

Airstrikes resume in Damascus as fighting 'freeze' ends

Relief in Yemen's Mukalla after year of al-Qaeda rule

Saudi oil minister visits Sudan to cement improving ties

Warnings for Assad as Syria talks shift to Berlin

Is Erdogan-Davutoglu tandem coming to an end?

US troops facing growing risks in Iraq, Syria

Fierce clashes rage in Syria’s Aleppo

Yemen warring parties back to peace talks table

OPCW warns ISIS may be making chemical weapons

French court says 'Carlos the Jackal' must face trial for 1974 attack

UN demands protection of hospitals in armed conflicts

Jewish settler who led burning alive of Palestinian teen receives life sentence

Italy ready to raise shipwreck off Libya coast

Heavy airstrikes kill dozens in ISIS Syria bastion

Deadly intra-rebel clashes rock eastern part of Syria capital

German 'jihadist' goes on trial for Syria war crimes

Number of people held in solitary confinement doubles in Israel

UN fears operation near Mosul will displace 30,000 more Iraqis