Middle East faces crisis as temperatures rise ‘twice as fast as global average’

Temperatures are rising nearly twice as fast as the global average in the east Mediterranean and Middle East, an international team of scientists has warned.

Climate change could have a devastating effect on the lives of millions in the region in the face of an overall warming of up to five degrees Celsius or more by the end of the century, a report prepared by the Cyprus Institute said.

That temperature spike was almost twice that anticipated in other areas of the planet, and faster than any other inhabited parts of the world, it said.

The report, prepared by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Climate and Atmosphere Research Center of The Cyprus Institute, claims a combination of reduced rainfall and weather warming will contribute to severe droughts, compromising water and food security, and rising sea levels.

“This (scenario) would imply severe challenges for coastal infrastructure and agriculture, and can lead to the salinisation of coastal aquifers, including the densely populated and cultivated Nile Delta,” said Dr George Zittis of the Cyprus Institute, an author of the report.

Meeting the main targets of the Paris Agreement, a global pact of countries to cut emissions, could stabilise the annual temperature increase to about two degrees Celsius.

Scientists recommend rapid implementation of decarbonisation actions with a particular emphasis on the energy and transportation sectors.

“Since many of the regional outcomes of climate change are transboundary, stronger collaboration among the countries is indispensable to cope with the expected adverse impacts,” said Jos Lelieveld, director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, institute professor at the Cyprus Institute, and coordinator of the assessment.

The report will be submitted at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt in November.

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