Climate change threatens peace. In the Middle East, a region severely affected by climate change, it exacerbates existing conflicts and leads to new disputes. Conflicts, in turn, indirectly contribute to climate change. We explain the connections in infographics.
A further rise in temperature of 2 to 2.5 degrees
Climate change in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a story of injustice. While the region has contributed a mere 3 percent of total global CO2 emissions since 1850, it will be hit extraordinarily hard by its effects.
Today, the MENA region is already hot and dry with 82.5 percent of its terrain covered in desert. 12 of the 17 world’s most water-stressed countries are located here. Even if emissions are cut according to the Paris Agreement, scientists predict a further rise in temperature of 2 to 2.5 degrees in the MENA region by 2039.
The link between environmental degradation and social and political problems became obvious with the Arab uprisings in 2011: in the five years prior to the uprisings, the region experienced one of its most severe drought cycles in 100 years, directly leading to loss of livelihood, high food prices and internal displacement. The most severely affected country was Syria, where 20 percent of the population lost their source of income, and which was subsequently engulfed in the bloodiest civil war the region had seen since the end of World War II.
On the other hand, conflicts in turn indirectly contribute to further climate change. This can be the case, for example, if necessary political measures are not taken or access to resources is made more difficult.
Supporting the Arab world in meeting the challenges posed by climate change will also be a matter of strategic importance for Europe: not only because unmanaged risks can lead to violent conflicts and displacement, but also because other geopolitical players are beginning to exploit the vulnerabilities of the region for their own purposes.
(Source: Arab Climate Futures)
Climate change is putting massive pressure on the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. Water is growing scarce, making agriculture impossible in many places, and entire cities and rural areas are increasingly becoming uninhabitable. The consequences are rural exodus and a growing risk of violent conflict. This, in turn, accelerates climate change. We take a look at three places where this vicious circle is palpable – and outline solutions.