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Preparing for a Climate Disaster

Preparing for a Climate Disaster

Asharq Al-Awsat, London, August 15

Despite warnings coming from the scientific community about the acceleration of climate change, most countries around the world have refused to take action on the issue so far. The only exception is the European Union, which recently adopted a series of legislative proposals setting out how it intends to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. This was followed by US President Joe Biden’s announcement of his plan to double the number of electric vehicles in the US by 2030. These measures were considered harsh by some observers and were therefore met with opposition from industries relying heavily on coal, as well as from the automobile and airline industries. However, the report published by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was issued a few days ago, exceeded our worst nightmares by confirming that the pace of climate change far exceeds previous estimates. Although it’s still possible to slow down the pace of climate change and the severity of its impact, some adverse effects have already become a reality that cannot be changed. For example, while previous reports indicated the possibility of sea levels rising by 0.5 meters by the year 2100, the current report raised this number to an estimated 2 meters by the same time. The report also forecasts a temperature increase of 1.5°C within 10 years if no change is made. In other words, the slow and reactionary plans we’re used to hearing of simply will not suffice. It’s interesting to note that the highest level of acceptance of the harsh measures required to combat climate change were witnessed in countries that have been directly impacted by natural disasters. This includes places like Germany and Belgium, which experienced deadly floods that wiped out entire villages. In the Netherlands, the damage was far less noticeable thanks to a robust infrastructure built to combat rising waters in a low-lying country. Therefore, the country witnessed much more objection to the EU plan, which was described as “costly” and “harmful” to the European economy. But the biggest opposition, if not apathy, can be found in the Arab world. Despite facing droughts and massive wildfires in recent years, the peoples of the region refuse to take climate change seriously. There are even some political officials who propagate conspiracy theories describing climate change as a hoax. The Arab world must follow in the footsteps of the European Union and enact an emergency plan to combat climate change. This plan must address not only the need to reduce carbon emissions, but also focus on curbing the impacts of climate change and devising strategies to deal with this new reality. – Najib Saab (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)


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