Lack of action at first MENA climate meet doesn’t bode well for Egypt’s COP27

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates —  Dubai’s Museum of the Future, housed in a jaw-dropping architectural marvel of metal, takes guests on a journey to 2071.

Last 12 months marked 50 years for the reason that United Arab Emirates got here into being. The museum appears to be like forward to the subsequent half-century.

The first cease on a whirlwind guided tour is to an area station 50 years into the longer term, to see how a belt of photo voltaic panels constructed across the moon will beam clear power to all of humanity. (The younger information, from the federal government’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center, assured these current that analysis into such a mission has actually begun).

Those residing on the station will extract water from asteroids, develop crops pollinated by robotic bees, and put on exo-skins able to figuring out and stopping potential diseases a decade earlier than they might in any other case seem.

Visitors to Dubai’s Museum of the Future get a glimpse of how the photo voltaic panels on the moon will provide renewable power to Earth in 2071., April 1, 2022. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)

Alongside different displays that look fantastical, similar to a DNA library of creatures from which scientists will be capable of extract what they should recreate extinct species or genetically adapt current ones to new weather conditions, are tech options which can be already getting used, similar to vertical farms and constructing supplies constituted of coconut husks.

Around 110 kilometers down the street, simply exterior of Abu Dhabi, is Masdar City.

Founded in 2006, it goals to develop into a mannequin for sustainable enterprise and residential improvement, and residential to analysis into state-of-the-art applied sciences, similar to inexperienced hydrogen, (which makes use of renewable power to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen), city agriculture, sustainable water use, and inexperienced constructing supplies and methods.

While on the one, incongruous hand, the UAE is expending unimaginable quantities of power and water to maintain its glass skyscrapers cool and supply its residents with grassy parks, a skating rink, and an indoor ski resort, it additionally has the imaginative and prescient — and the money —  to position itself on the forefront of innovation to assist the world navigate local weather change.

An Arab girl tries to maintain her steadiness as she tries to skate on the Dubai Ice Rink at a shopping center in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, July 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Thanks to the Abraham Accords, it has additionally has signed memorandums of understanding with Israel, that different drive for innovation within the area. One is to associate with Israel’s Energy Ministry on renewable power, fossil gasoline gasoline, and cybersecurity. The different is to collaborate with the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology to create a binational industrial analysis and improvement fund.

Talking the speak

But finally week’s first regional UN Middle East and North Africa local weather convention, held at Dubai’s magnificent Atlantis Palm Hotel, neither the options nor the funding to assist nations purchase them have been anyplace to be seen.

The Atlantic Palm Hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which hosted the primary Middle East and North Africa local weather convention from March 28 to 31, 2022. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)

In the phrases of Tal Ronen, one among simply two Israelis to deal with the confab,  the convention was about “talking the talk, rather than walking the walk.”

The Middle East is warming a lot quicker than the planet as an entire. It has already risen 1.5 levels Celsius above preindustrial ranges — the quantity that the United Nations has set because the ceiling past which temperatures shouldn’t be allowed to rise.

The industrialized world is principally answerable for carbon emissions. But it’s the growing world that’s disproportionately shouldering the results, amongst them elevated drought and rising sea ranges (the latter led to by melting icecaps releasing extra water into the seas).

The annual COP (Conference of the Parties) get-togethers are grand UN affairs that, so far, have centered on coverage, negotiations, and worldwide commitments, reasonably than motion.

This picture reveals a dry land that was as soon as fertile and inexperienced, in Second Village, Qouta city, Fayoum, Egypt, August 8, 2020. The Middle East is probably the most water-scarce area on this planet, however individuals at an upcoming local weather summit in Dubai shall be ensconced in a resort with one of many world’s largest water parks, full with synthetic lagoons, encounters with dolphins, and a mesmerizing aquarium with sharks, stingrays and colleges of fish. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

“We have gone beyond negotiations and will now be focusing on implementation,” the UNFCC’s Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa advised the Dubai discussion board.

Francesco La Camera, director basic of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is predicated at Masdar City, stated he hoped that COP27, to be held in November in Egypt’s Sharm el Sheikh resort, would “really move toward implementation and make things happen.”

But how that shall be achieved stays unclear.

As was the case at November’s COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, MENA Climate Week noticed many descriptions of the issues and expressions in regards to the want to behave, reasonably than concrete motion itself.

Talking heads carried out in the principle convention halls.

Meetings in facet rooms came about in what administration consultants name silos. This is the place folks give attention to totally different topics, however with no connection to at least one one other. This reporter wandered between classes on topics similar to early warning methods, carbon buying and selling and the way to differentiate between humanitarian and local weather support in politically fragile nations similar to Yemen.

It was unclear whether or not the discussions would additional something aside from the data base and networking of these current within the varied rooms.

A ministerial spherical desk session, round a really giant desk, on the Middle East and North Africa local weather convention in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on March 28, 2022. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)

On the primary day of the convention, a “ministerial round table” was held, round a really giant desk. There have been too many individuals, and time was too brief, for any actual dialogue to happen.

Participants heard loads of slogans, one of the vital in style addressing the necessity to “see challenges as opportunities.”

It was Israel’s Foreign Ministry particular local weather envoy, Ambassador Gideon Behar, who took the microphone to solicit motion.

Giving the options middle stage

He described applied sciences that Israel has developed to maneuver from rainfed to express drip-fed agriculture, which may even be used to develop rice; Israeli innovations to retailer renewable power with out batteries; alternative protein to interchange the excessive carbon-emitting livestock trade; and Israel’s success in afforesting drylands and discovering nature-based options for carbon sequestration (absorption).

Technology didn’t must be complicated or costly, he advised the session. The Volcani Center, Israel’s nationwide deal with for agricultural R&D, had developed a protocol for guaranteeing that grain silos misplaced simply half a % of their content material to pests and ailments, in comparison with 10 to 40 % worldwide — one thing of specific worth given grain shortages arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Steel grain bins in Ralls, Texas, (Leaflet, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

“We need to make an inventory of solutions,” he stated, later telling a unique session, “We need to shift the discussion from describing the problem to taking action. We must start discussing scalable, easy-to-implement solutions that impact the lives of people in the region, and Israel has a lot to offer.”

Behar then spent a lot of the convention assembly with influential officers to push for technical options similar to these to be given a central place on the upcoming COP27 and COP28 confabs (the latter to be held within the UAE), reasonably than featured amongst numerous facet occasions from which individuals should select.

Asked how the construction of this type of convention is perhaps modified within the run-up to COP27, a number of individuals advised this reporter that there needs to be fewer speaking heads’ displays and extra alternatives, inside classes, to community; much less time for speeches and extra time for exchanges of views; and a broader illustration of civil society and youth. “We’re in a bubble,” stated one carbon tax skilled. “Where do you see the posters in Dubai inviting people to join the conversation?”

Rebooting the best way leaders suppose

But the problem of turning future COPs into one thing extra significant and efficient calls for a a lot deeper course of, many consider.

As Egyptian local weather activist Salem Massalha poignantly advised an internet site referred to as Egyptian Streets, COP26, with its leaders flying out and in of Glasgow on personal jets, was “really more of a PR event than a summit.”

An Oxfam ‘Big Head’ caricature of US President Joe Biden protesting on the fringes of the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, November. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

He stated, “To break its climate politeness in COP27, and become a genuine climate leader, Egypt’s summit will need to include more difficult conversations around broken promises and the flawed economic system that is not meeting the needs of developing countries.”

The rich nations haven’t fulfilled a promise they made in 2009 to switch $100 billion a 12 months to assist growing nations deal with local weather change, a failure of immense symbolic significance.

And the worldwide financial system remains to be primarily based on progress and backside line income, failing to take into consideration the financial prices and advantages that coverage choices have on the atmosphere and society.

Renewable and fossil-fuel power is produced when wind mills are seen in entrance of a coal-fired energy plant close to Jackerath, Germany, December 7, 2018. The head of the International Renewable Energy Agency says “radical action” is required to make sure international warming doesn’t cross harmful thresholds, warning that greenhouse gasoline emissions are heading within the incorrect route. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

According to the latest Production Gap Report, governments “still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than what would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.” It was issued earlier than the tumult and rising costs of oil and gasoline introduced on by the post-COVID-19 rise in demand and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Last week, UN Secretary General António Guterres described the newest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report as “a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track toward an unlivable world.”

Governments agreed within the 2015 Paris accord to maintain international warming effectively under 2 levels Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit) this century, and ideally not more than 1.5 levels Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit).

But in response to the IPCC panel, projected international emissions positioned the 1.5°C restrict past attain and even the two°C ceiling doubtful.

Capitalism received’t save the planet

Various post-capitalist fashions are being developed and talked about, similar to Doughnut Economics, which not too long ago entered Israeli discourse.

Doughnut Economics offers a prism by means of which to guage a mission or coverage’s alignment with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed on by the world group in 2015.

These targets vary from eradicating poverty and offering clear water and  reasonably priced and clear power, to defending life on land and under the water and forming a worldwide partnership for sustainable improvement.

Tal Ronen, greatest often called the chief coach and strategic adviser of the late Shimon Peres whereas the latter was formulating his imaginative and prescient for a New Middle East, took half within the authentic design of the SDGs.

Today, he’s a managing associate and co-founder at YKCenter, named for its chairman, Prof. Yehuda Kahane, an instructional, thinker and skilled in insurance coverage and threat administration who has devoted himself in recent times to steering progress in the direction of implementation of the SDGs.

Tal Ronen (left), managing associate and co-founder at YKCenter, with Ambassador Gideon Behar, the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Special Climate Envoy, on the Middle East and North Africa local weather convention in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 29, 2022. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)

Solutions and data weren’t sufficient to take the world ahead, Ronen advised a facet occasion to advertise YK Center’s work.  What was wanted was “a whole new structure of thinking.” It was important to deliver all of the related events (stakeholders, within the jargon) to “see the same and to see what’s possible,” reasonably than to have a look at what is, in continuation of the previous.

The greatest problem was to remodel folks’s consciousness and transfer them from “egocentric to ecocentric, from me to we” patterns of thought and habits, he stated, and to get them to work throughout totally different sectors, or silos, in an aligned, holistic method.

It was additionally tough to seek out visionary leaders, he added.

“We almost have to reboot ourselves,” Ronen stated. “It’s not enough to restart. We need to examine our deepest assumptions in order to move forward.”

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