Climate change impacts are being seen in communities and the natural world throughout the region – Greenpeace Research Laboratories report highlights the need for urgent action in the face of soaring temperatures, water scarcity and food insecurity in the MENA region.
Ecosystems, inhabitants and livelihoods in Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates are all suffering from the impact of rapid climate change according to a new report from Greenpeace Research Laboratories based at the University of Exeter in the UK, entitled ‘Living on the Edge: The Implications of Climate Change for Six Countries in the Middle East North Africa Region.’
The report presents details of how the MENA region is warming nearly twice as fast as the global average, and is particularly vulnerable to the effects and impact of climate change – including extreme water scarcity.
Taking into account the content of the report, Greenpeace MENA is calling for climate justice from world leaders at COP27 in the form of the creation and funding of a loss and damage finance facility to compensate vulnerable communities that have been devastated by the climate crisis – the call is in addition to implementation of existing pledges for adaptation and mitigation. The demands also call for funding to be in the form of grants and not loans that comply with alternative development pathways.
Kathryn Miller – Science Consultant, Greenpeace Research Laboratories said: “Many of the region’s countries naturally experience very warm and dry conditions relative to other parts of the world, making life challenging from the outset. However, we can see that there is considerable variability in weather patterns year on year, and it’s now clear that the region as a whole is warming fast, with an accelerated rate of 0.4 °C per decade since the 1980s – nearly twice the global average.”
Dr. George Zittis – Associate Research Scientist, The Cyprus Institute, Climate and Atmosphere Research Center (CARE-C) said: “This report provides an overview of the evidence available from the latest scientific studies and assessments relating to past trends, ongoing observations and future projections of climate change and its impacts on the natural world and on human societies across the region where extreme heat, water stress and food insecurity are already a daily reality.”
The report is complemented by a series of powerful images and documentaries recounting the stories of the people and ecosystems on the frontline of climate change. Together they make a solid and compelling case for the need to achieve climate justice in the MENA region.
Dr. Maha Khalil – Assistant Professor, Biology Department, American University in Cairo said: “The implications for biodiversity in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems are significant. Some species will be able to adapt to the changing conditions, or migrate to more favourable areas, but the long-term lack of baseline monitoring in the MENA region means that it is difficult to predict with any certainty how individual species will react to climate change. For example, some Red Sea corals are already at the limit of their heat tolerance and continued increase in sea surface temperature could lead to widespread bleaching.”
Ghiwa Nakat – Executive Director, Greenpeace MENA said: “Lives are being lost, homes destroyed, crops are failing, livelihoods are jeopardised and cultural heritage is being wiped out. Yet the historic polluters most responsible for climate change are still refusing to pay up for the loss and damage suffered by vulnerable southern communities and which they continue to suffer.”
“Without an agreement on climate finance, there will always be a huge barrier for countries in the MENA region to recover from – and adapt to, the impact of climate change and make the transition towards a greener, renewable energy future. As well as ensuring that funds reach the most vulnerable, MENA governments must invest in alternative development pathways that are locally attuned and culturally relevant.
“It is absolutely vital that we transition away from fossil fuels and move towards energy independence. There is no reason why we should follow the same path that was chosen by the Global North over the past 300 years, which has led to the climate disaster we now face.”
“Lives are being lost, homes are being destroyed and cultural heritage is being wiped out for your gains. Time to pay the bill for all the damages.”