Friday 19 April 2024

Climate change 'may worsen instability in ME’

MANAMA, May 26, 2015

Climate change could aggravate existing instability in the Middle East, a diplomat has warned.

French Ambassador to Bahrain Bernard Regnauld-Fabre said rising sea levels and increased desertification posed serious security concerns, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

One of the reasons was the potential displacement of large populations, which might have to relocate to escape flooding.

However, he added that renewable energy could hold the key to a more peaceful Middle East.

"In Egypt, an increase of 50cm, or almost 20 inches, in the sea level would cause millions of people to flee the Nile Delta, with security consequences for the entire region," he explained.

"Increased desertification of unstable areas, such as the Sahel (in Africa), would foster the growth of criminal networks and armed terrorist groups, which are already thriving there.

"Similarly, climate disruption would exacerbate the threats that are currently concentrated in regions from Niger to the Arabian Gulf."

Fabre was speaking at the opening of the Bahrain Europe Environment Week (BEEW) yesterday at the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH), in Juffair.

"New energy policies and adaptation must be a central focus of the agreement that is to be reached at the end of 2015," he said.

"The massive use of fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas - has accelerated conflicts ever since they have been central to our economies.

"Fossil fuel deposits are very unevenly distributed, leading to dependency and often violent competition.

"Today, control of natural gas supply routes is at the centre of conflicts that threaten to destabilise the European continent, as demonstrated by the "gas war" between Russia and Ukraine in 2009.

"In Asia, exploitation of the hydrocarbon-rich sea bed and the securing of supply routes for these resources contribute much to the tensions between China and Japan.

"We need a 'global clean energy community' to free us from dependence on fossil fuels and the related risks of conflict.

"Reducing carbon intensity improves security - energy security and security in general - as it equalises access to energy.

"A country that develops its own solar or wind energy production takes nothing from anyone: the light and wind that it uses are not only renewable, they belong to all.

"We should not underestimate the major contribution this could make to peace and security."

He added Arab countries were expected to support international efforts to combat climate change.

"This urgency is shared by all countries and regions of the world, as all will be affected by the global warming of the planet. The Arab region is not an exception," he said.

"All sectors are indeed concerned by global warming: coastal areas, food production, fresh water, human health, biodiversity, housing, transport and tourism, to mention only the most obvious domains."

Meanwhile, he described the forthcoming Paris Climate Conference was crucial because an international climate agreement that limits global warming to below 2C was vital.

"Threats to peace and security will increase in both number and intensity if the rise in temperatures exceeds 2C - and this rise will happen if we fail to act or take insufficient action," he said. "A climate disrupted planet would be an unstable one." - TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Middle East | Climate | change | instability |

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