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Global Warming To Have Heavy Impact
On Arab States

By Michael von Bülow

23 November, 2009
Copenhagen Official Site

Global warming will have a severe impact on Arab states where water is already scarce, a regional report warned Thursday ahead of next month's Copenhagen environment summit.

Some of the most feared effects include depletion of agricultural land, spread of disease and endangerment of many plant and animal species, the 2009 Report of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development said.

The AFED report, released in Beirut, said sea level rise will mostly threaten Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Tunisia, affecting "one to three percent of land in these countries."

In Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation, more than 12 percent of the country's best agricultural land in the Nile Delta is at risk from sea level rise, or SLR.

The report comes three weeks ahead of a global conference in Copenhagen that hopes to strike a deal to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required 37 industrial countries to cut heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.

It warned that developing nations may not be too enthusiastic about any radical steps that could impede their economic growth.

"Looking ahead to the negotiation in Copenhagen, it is clear that developing countries are hesitant to commit to any obligations that place significant restriction on their economic growth," the 150-page report said.

Although the Arab region amounts to 10 percent of the planet's land, it contains less than 1 percent of the world's freshwater resources, the report pointed out.

The AFED also said the region risks a 50 percent decrease in food production if current practices detrimental to the soil continue. It recommended a change in the range and variety of crops planted, use of fertilizers, irrigation and land management practices.

The report urged Arab countries to cooperate in energy efficient practices and renewable energy, use of compressed natural gas as a transport fuel and investing carbon capture and storage.

It also warned of a spread in malaria in Sudan, Egypt and Morocco — countries where the disease is endemic and contained for now.

The report cited several officials at the forefront of climate issues.

"We made some studies on the Middle East and Africa and they are among the most vulnerable apart from the small islands in the oceans," said Denmark's diplomat in charge of climate issues, Niels Pultz, speaking about sea level rise.

Some expressed fear that lack of fresh water could undermine peace in the region.

"Environmental deterioration forms serious threats to peace in our Arab region and the world as a result of the increase in the conflict around water resource," cautioned Lebanon's Environment Minister Mohammed Rahhal.

Rahhal was likely referring to dams being built in Turkey on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers that restrain the flow of water into Syria and Iraq, or Israel-Lebanon water problems and water issues between the Jewish state and Palestinian territories.


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