With a population of 355 million and the vast majority of people living in middle-income countries, the MENA region came into the Arab Spring with multiple strengths, including a young and educated population, strong resource base, and economic resilience that helped it weather the 2008/9 global financial crisis.
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Yemen today is a glimpse of what’s in store for other parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as climate change and rapid population growth combine to put more and more pressure on the resour... Show More +ces essential to human life, like water. Already, Yemenis have as little as 86 cubic meters of renewable water sources left per person per year—not the lowest figure in the region, but as one of the region’s poorest countries, Yemen is among the least able to adapt.In Sana’a and Taiz, people have piped water once a week at most. Otherwise, they have to buy it, and for the ordinary worker, it’s pricey. For others, fetching water is a daily challenge. “In our area, which is not served by piped water, we spend up to five hours a day fetching water, “said Hajjah Zuhra from the Haraz tribe, west of Sana’a. “Our crops dry up, while we desperately wait for rain.” Some towns in the Yemeni highlands have as little as 30 liters of municipal water available per person a day.A new World Bank report, Turn Down the Heat, Confronting the New Climate Normal draws on climate data to map out various scenarios if the world continues to heat up at the rate it is doing now. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, says the report confirms what scientists have been saying all along—that past emissions have set the planet on an unavoidable path to global warming. Areas north of the 25°N line of latitude will get drier. This includes most of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, and all of Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Iran—most of the MENA region, in fact.Food security is likely to drop, increasing the region’s need for imported grains. Tunisia’s wheat growing season may shrink by about two weeks if temperatures rise by 2°C and about a month if they rise by 4°C. By the end of this century, farming will have to shift 75km north in much of the Maghreb and Mashreq. More people mean less waterMENA’s population of about 355 million looks set to double by 2050. Yemen’s population of 24 million isn’t particularly large yet, but it’s growing fast. And together with more qat cultivation (qat leaves have a mild narcotic effect), this has led to a surge in water use—estimated in 2010 at 3.9 billion cubic meters (bcm) against a renewable supply of 2.5 bcm.The 1.4 bcm shortfall is being met by water pumped up with modern tube wells or boreholes, depleting reserves of underground water. In rural areas, when wells run dry, social tensions escalate into local conflicts. Mass displacement from water scarcity causes migration and fuels the risk of wider conflicts. The dangers posed by flash floods increase in densely-populated cities, particularly for the urban poor. The cultivation of the shrub qat (whose leaves have a mild narcotic effect) has compounded Yemen’s water problems. Qat covers 38 percent of Yemen’s irrigated areas; in places, food crops are being uprooted and replaced with it. Since 1970, the amount of irrigation has increased by 15 times, while rain-fed agriculture has declined by nearly 30 percent. Because of water shortages, more than half the investments made in rural Yemen last no longer than five years.The Yemeni government has struggled to put a modern water-governance framework in place. Water use lies in the hands of hundreds of thousands of fiercely independent local Yemeni households. Top-down regulatory approaches to water management have gained little traction. Bottom-up approaches have had more success, with communities forming associations to demand better services and protect local water sources from pollution.More weather extremesBecause it lies south of the 25°N latitude, Yemen may get wetter as a result of global warming. But more rainfall may also bring greater extremes, with monsoon-like storms coming off the Gulf of Aden. In 2008, floods in south-eastern Yemen, inland from the Gulf of Aden, caused US$1.6 billion in damages and losses—the equivalent of six percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. In + 2°C world, heat waves could hit low-lying coastal areas of Yemen, Djibouti and Egypt. Sea water is leaking into freshwater coastal aquifers, making water and soil brackish.Scientists think that taking the right steps now, however, will make a difference. “The good news is that we can take action that reduces the rate of climate change, and promotes economic growth,” said Kim, “ultimately stopping our journey down this dangerous path.” World leaders, he said, should pursue affordable solutions now, such as carbon pricing, which shifts more investment into clean public transport, cleaner energy and energy efficient workspaces. Show Less -
WASHINGTON, November 23, 2014— In a world where global average warming reaches 4°C above pre-industrial level, summer temperatures are expected to be up to 8°C warmer in parts of Algeria, Saudi Arabia... Show More + and Iraq by the end of the century. Climate change will place already scarce water resources under intense pressure in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with major consequences for human life and regional food security. In countries—such as Jordan, Egypt and Libya—crop yields could drop by up to 30 percent by 2050 if temperatures rise by 1.5 to 2°C. All capital cities in the region could face many more exceptionally hot days each year. Compared to the rest of the world, the MENA region will disproportionally suffer from heat extremes.Dramatic changes are affecting people around the world already, damaging crops and coastlines, and putting water security at risk, according to a new World Bank report, Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal. However, the worst changes could be avoided by holding warming below 2°C, the report says. “Today’s report confirms what scientists have been saying—past emissions have set the world on an unavoidable course to warming over the next two decades that will affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people the most,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. “We’re already seeing record-breaking temperatures occurring more frequently, rainfall increasing in intensity in some places, and drought-prone regions like the Mediterranean becoming drier.”“These changes make it more difficult to reduce poverty and put in jeopardy the livelihoods of millions of people,” Kim said. “They also have serious consequences for development budgets, and for institutions like the World Bank Group, where our investments, support and advice must now also build resilience and help affected populations adapt.”The report, prepared for the World Bank Group by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, shows how rising temperatures are threatening the health and livelihoods of populations, crucially magnifying the problems each region of the world is already struggling with today. Decreasing crop yields are a threat common to the three regions of the world the report looks at—the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and parts of Europe and Central Asia. Climate-related pressure on natural resources and subsequent migration might increase the risk of conflict. Rising sea-levels—another projected effect of global warming as polar ice caps melt—could cause billions of US dollars-worth of damage to cities like Alexandria, Benghazi and Algiers, and to Egypt’s Nile river basin.Declines in agricultural productivity will have strong repercussions for economic growth and social stability. The World Bank Group believes that economic development and climate protection can be complementary. Technological and behavioral changes are urgently needed to mitigate the harmful effects of global warming and reverse present trends. Show Less -
In the Andes of South America and across the mountains of Central Asia, the glaciers are receding. As temperatures continue to warm, their melting will bring more water to farms and cities earlier in ... Show More +the growing season, raising the risks of damaging floods. Within a few decades, however, the risk of flood will become risk of drought. Without action to stop the drivers of climate change, most of the Andean glaciers and two-thirds of Central Asia’s glaciers could be gone by the end of the century.These changes are already underway, with global temperatures 0.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, and the impact on food security, water supplies and livelihoods is just beginning.A new report exploring the impact of climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia and finds that warming of close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial times is already locked into the Earth’s atmospheric system by past and predicted greenhouse gas emissions. Without concerted action to reduce emissions, the planet is on pace for 2°C warming by mid-century and 4°C or more by the time today’s teenagers are in their 80s.The report warns that as temperatures rise, heat extremes on par with the heat waves in the United States in 2012 and Russia in 2010 will become more common. Melting permafrost will release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that will drive more warming in a dangerous feedback loop. Forests, including the Amazon, are also at risk. A world even 1.5°C will mean more severe droughts and global sea level rise, increasing the risk of damage from storm surges and crop loss and raising the cost of adaptation for millions of people.“Today’s report confirms what scientists have been saying – past emissions have set an unavoidable course of warming over the next two decades, which will affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people the most,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “We cannot continue down the current path of unchecked, growing emissions.”As governments gather in Lima for the next round of climate negotiations, this report and others provide direction and evidence of the risks and the need for ambitious goals to decarbonize economies now. Turn Down the HeatTurn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal is the third in a series of reports commissioned by the World Bank Group from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics. The first report looked at risks globally if the world were to warm by 4°C. The second report focused on three regions – Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia – and the risks to food security, water security, and low-lying cities exposed to dangerous sea level rise and vulnerability to storms.The new report comes on the heels of strong new warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about the pace of climate change and the energy transformations necessary to stay within 2°C warming. Show Less -
Report No. 1, November 2012Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided The first report in the Turn Down the Heat series warns that the world is on track to warm by 4°C ... Show More +above pre-industrial times by the end of the century if the global community fails to act on climate change. All regions of the world would suffer – some more than others – but the report finds that the poor will suffer the most. The authors find that a world 4°C warmer could be devastating, with coastal cities inundated; food security at risk, leading to higher rates of malnutrition; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; more intense tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems. ReportTurn Down the Heat: Why a 4 Degree Warmer World Must Be AvoidedExecutive Summary in English, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese, GermanPress releaseNew Report Examines Risks of 4 Degree Hotter World by End of CenturyFeatureClimate Change Report Warns of Dramatically Warmer World This CenturyInfographicA 4 Degree Warmer World - We must and can avoid it MultimediaWorld Could Be 4 Degrees Hotter By End of This CenturyWorld Bank President Urges Policy Action on Climate ChangeBlogsA Wake Up CallWhat Does Water Look Like in a 4-Degrees World?South Asia Would Be Permanently Altered at 4 Degrees and Beyond Show Less -
Dramatic climate changes and weather extremes already affecting millions of lives, but solutions existWASHINGTON, November 23, 2014 – As the planet warms further, heat-waves and other weather extremes... Show More + that today occur once in hundreds of years, if ever, would become the “new climate normal,” creating a world of increased risks and instability. The consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources shift, sea-levels rise, and the livelihoods of millions of people are put at risk, according to a new scientific report released today by the World Bank Group.Climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be unavoidable because the Earth’s atmospheric system is locked into warming close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century, the report said. Even very ambitious mitigation action taken today will not change this, it said.“Today’s report confirms what scientists have been saying – past emissions have set an unavoidable course to warming over the next two decades, which will affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people the most,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. “We’re already seeing record-breaking temperatures occurring more frequently, rainfall increasing in intensity in some places, and drought-prone regions like the Mediterranean becoming drier.“These changes make it more difficult to reduce poverty and put in jeopardy the livelihoods of millions of people,” Kim said. “They also have serious consequences for development budgets, and for institutions like the World Bank Group, where our investments, support and advice must now also build resilience and help affected populations adapt.”Dramatic climate changes and weather extremes are already affecting people around the world, damaging crops and coastlines, and putting water security at risk, according to the report, Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal. Many of the worst projected climate impacts could still be avoided by holding warming below 2°C, the report said. “The good news is that we can take action that reduces the rate of climate change and promotes economic growth, ultimately stopping our journey down this dangerous path,” Kim said. “World leaders and policy makers should embrace affordable solutions like carbon pricing and policy choices that shift investment to clean public transport, cleaner energy and more energy efficient factories, buildings and appliances."Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal is an analysis of likely impacts of present day (0.8°C), 2°C and 4°C warming above pre-industrial levels on agricultural production, water resources, ecosystem services, and coastal vulnerability across Latin-America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, and parts of Europe and Central Asia. It builds on a 2012 Bank report, which concluded the world would warm by 4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century if we did not take concerted action immediately. The report, prepared for the World Bank Group by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, reveals how rising global temperatures are increasingly threatening the health and livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations, crucially magnifying problems each region is struggling with today. A common threat across the three regions is the risks posed by heat extremes. State‐of‐the‐art climate modeling shows that “highly unusual” heat extremes, similar to the heat-waves experienced in the US in 2012 and Russia and Central Asia in 2010, increase rapidly under a 4°C emission pathway. It also reveals that the risks of reduced crop yields and production losses for the regions studied increase significantly above 1.5°C to 2°C warming. It notes that declines in agricultural productivity will also have impacts outside core producer regions, with strong repercussions on food security, and may negatively affect economic growth and development, social stability and well‐being.Key findings across the regions include:Latin America and the Caribbean: Heat extremes and changing precipitation patterns will have adverse effects on agricultural productivity, hydrological regimes and biodiversity. In Brazil, without additional adaptation, crop yields could decrease by up to 70 percent for soybean and up to 50 percent for wheat at 2°C warming by 2050. Ocean acidification, sea level rise, tropical cyclones and temperature changes will impact coastal livelihoods, tourism, health, food and water security, particularly in the Caribbean. Melting glaciers would be a hazard for Andean cities.Middle East and North Africa: A large increase in heat-waves combined with warmer average temperatures will put intense pressure on already scarce water resources, with major consequences for human consumption and regional food security. In Jordan, Egypt, and Libya, crop yields could decrease by up to 30 percent at 1.5 to 2°C warming by 2050. Migration and climate‐related pressure on resources may also increase the risk of conflict. Western Balkans and Central Asia: Reduced water availability in some places becomes a threat as increases in temperatures head toward 4°C. Melting glaciers in Central Asia and shifts in the timing of water flows will lead to less water resources in summer months and high risks of torrential floods. In the Balkans, a higher risk of drought will impact crop yields, urban health, and energy generation. In Macedonia, yield losses are projected of up to 50 percent for maize, wheat, vegetables and grapes at 2°C warming by 2050. The report also warns that if warming continues unabated, irreversible changes on a large scale could be triggered. In northern Russia, forest dieback and thawing of permafrost threaten to amplify global warming as stored carbon and methane are released into the atmosphere, giving rise to a self-amplifying feedback loop. Methane emissions could increase by 20 to 30 percent across Russia at 2°C warming by 2050.“The report makes crystal clear that we cannot continue down the current path of unchecked, growing emissions. Leaders must step up and take the necessary decisions on how we manage our economies towards clean growth and resilient development,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change. “Urgent and substantial technological, economic, institutional and behavioral change is needed to reverse present trends. Economic development and climate protection can be complementary. We need the political will to make this happen.”  4 degrees Celsius = 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit Show Less -