As week two of the COP18 UN climate talks in Doha draws to a close, a new report from the World Bank has delivered some sobering perspective for Qatar and its fellow Arab states. The report has found that climate change-related disasters have cost Arab nations $12 billion over the past 30 years, and that this problem will only worsen as climbing temperatures make many cities in the region unlivable.
According to the report, Adaptation to a Changing Climate in the Arab Countries, extreme weather events are the new norm for the region, where the effects of climate change will be felt particularly keenly, with rapid changes in temperature and rainfall that are, in many cases, outstripping traditional coping mechanisms.
The report says that five of the 19 countries that in 2010 – globally the warmest year since records began in the late 1800s – set new national temperature highs were Arab countries, including Kuwait, which set a new record at 52.6 °C in 2010, only to be followed by 53.5 °C in 2011. And it warns that without curbs on fossil-fuel emissions, the region can expect average temperatures to rise 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
“There will be lower rainfall, higher temperatures and ongoing encroachment of the desert,” Rachel Kyte, vice president for sustainable development at the bank, said today in a briefing at the talks in Doha. “Climate change threatens to roll back the prosperity that so many people enjoy.”
Kyte also quotes figures estimating that Tunisian farmers will lose $700 million by 2050 due to production declines from lower rainfall, while rural households in Yemen are set to lose $3.5 billion by 2040 as weather changes. Tourism, which now accounts for 3 per cent of GDP in Arab nations, will also be hurt, she said.
Meanwhile, the COP18 host city, which is built at sea level, can look forward to becoming a swamp, according to estimates from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, which predicts a sea-level rise in the range of 3 meters by 2300 and as much as 1 meter by the end of this century.
In other news…
EV infrastructure group Better Place has announced a deal to give Canberra EV drivers two years’ free car charging, using any of the company’s eight charge spots on the Better Place ACT public network, which is powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. Customers have until the end of the month to sign up for the deal, which involves the down-payment of a fully-refundable $400 deposit for the required charging cable.
The Queensland government has ruled out introducing special fixed tariffs on houses with rooftop solar, according to a report in the Courier-Mail. “There will be no fixed charge of any sort on people using solar,” energy minister Mark McArdle has reportedly said in response to reports suggesting the government was going to enforce fixed fees on PV households to help pay for ‘poles and wires.’ “They made a contract with the former government or this government that we intend to honour,” McArdle said.
British Airways has announced it has secured a site for a state-of-the-art sustainable jet fuel facility in London, as part of the airline’s efforts to lock in “carbon neutral growth” from 2020. The airline has also officially committed to buying the output of the facility at market-competitive prices over a 10-year period worth about $500 million, which it will do so by working in tandem with a consortium of companies led by US-based Solena.
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