At last, climate change takes region’s center stage
After reconciliation efforts by regional countries, the political climate in Middle East gets warmer. This is because the real climate change caused global warming becomes a common problem and requires close cooperation.
Despite being a vital topic, climate change, a global problem that requires action from the international community, doesn’t receive much regional attention. Recent statements by regional leaders and the agreements they signed indicate that it is likely that it will become an issue for regional cooperation.
On Wednesday, Isaac Herzog, Israeli President, confirmed his visit to Turkey in March. It was part of an attempt at creating a regional alliance for climate change.
“In the coming month, I am due to visit our Mediterranean coast neighbors Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, and meet their leaders. With these three countries, as well as with Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and the Palestinian Authority, I intend to get them all on board for a regional partnership confronting the climate crisis,” he said.
During Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent visit to the UAE, the two countries signed 13 agreements, including one on climate change.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN’s climate body, holds an annual meeting known as the Conference of Parties. The UAE will host COP28 next year, and Egypt is scheduled to host this year’s COP27 in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in November. During a visit to Cairo this week by US presidential climate envoy John Kerry, Egypt and the US launched a joint working group to prepare for November’s summit.
After Qatar hosted COP18 in Doha 2012, this will be the first time the annual climate summit has been held in the Middle East in a decade. Egypt and the UAE now follow this path.
After Qatar hosted COP18 at Doha in 2012, it will be the first time that the annual climate summit has been held within the Middle East for a decade. Egypt and the UAE now follow this path.
The UAE was first in the Gulf to sign and ratify Paris Agreement. It aims at reducing global temperature rises.
The UAE and the US have launched a joint plan for food security, just weeks after Kerry visited Abu Dhabi for his Regional Dialogue for Climate Action. This week there was a major new initiative —the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, led by the UAE and US with the support of over 30 governments. As part of this initiative, the UAE has pledged $1 million of additional investment. This initiative aims to increase and speed up agricultural and food system innovation in support for climate action.
The COP26 summit ended in Glasgow with large nations making serious commitments towards combating climate change. Smaller countries raised serious concerns. China and the US, the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters, raised hopes that nearly 200 countries in the talks could toughen their commitments and reach a deal.
Ahead of the two major climate summits in Egypt and the UAE, the impact of climate change in the Middle East — and pressing need for action to mitigate its devastating consequences — has started to concern regional countries.
This month, an EU report warned of the effects of climate change on water resources, and the resulting economic and political challenges in Euphrates-Tigris basin, which is shared by Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq.
For many years, climate and environmental issues were considered “soft” topics that were underdiscussed. The agenda was dominated by issues related to hard power politics in the region. This meant that the threat from climate change was not discussed. It is expected that two Middle Eastern countries host two summits on the subject in the future. Further efforts will be required through close cooperation among regional countries.
- Sinem Cengiz is a Turkish political analyst who specializes in Turkey’s relations with the Middle East. Twitter: @SinemCngz
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this section are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point of view.