Climate and Conflict Go Hand in Hand in the Middle East

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Few recent events have so dramatically undermined the sense of global unity and inflamed world opinion as the war in Gaza, which this week saw a much-needed respite from the temporary war and the now-prolonged truce. A very important unity for the United Nations climate meetings, which is the climate expert of the United Nations i agree It is important to lock down life-saving climate action.

If the next week is 28Th The Conference of the Parties in Dubai, or COP28 for short, will be a success, then commitment Conflict Unloading It should be as important as commitment. Adding carbon. They are interrelated.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “hanging by a thread” according to the famous international climate agreement. It is equipped. That thread is rapidly fraying as tensions mount over the war’s response, reshaping national political priorities. And with the threat of a wider Middle East war at stake, the climate summit could deprive governments of the attention it needs.

In the year A Palestinian woman pours water on a man’s hand as people look at the devastation caused by Israeli attacks in the village of Quza, near the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip, on November 27.
Said KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden It is now. Expected For example to skip COP28. too bad . The leader of the world’s most powerful country deciding to prioritize other issues sends the wrong signal to world leaders. The US, historically responsible for global carbon dioxide emissions, should be at the table. If his presidency is a no-show in Dubai, it’s a sign that other heads of state might jump on the bandwagon.

None of this is rigid, nor can the urgency of international cooperation on climate change be understated. Scientists have now confirmed that it will be 2023 The hottest year On record, some months have been the hottest 120,000 years. How many more ‘hottest years on record’ do we need before we take this security threat seriously?

The longer we wait to act on climate, the more conflict we will see. Climate change will continue to exacerbate tensions in the Middle East, and Israelis and Palestinians will be among the worst affected by the failure to address climate change at COP28, as they live the most. Areas exposed to climate on earth.

Over the years, global warming will make water-scarce areas drier and make the land more uninhabitable. Sea level rise could destroy Palestinian real estate and reservoirs in Gaza, destroying Israeli beaches, salt marshes and sewage systems in coastal cities.

The risk of instability is more than regional. The recent World Economic Forum Report He warned that climate change threatens more than half a billion people in the Middle East. And as In the year At the beginning of 2030 Climate change will push 132 million people into poverty, through more disasters and agricultural destruction, and create millions of climate refugees.

In the long run, this instability makes war more likely as societies fight over increasingly limited resources.

In the short term, the conflict in Gaza could easily stop the regional clean energy cooperation that we urgently need in the Middle East to avoid dangerous climate change. That is why leaders must do everything they can to prevent this latest conflict from igniting a regional rift. This undermines the careful diplomacy needed to forge a strong global climate agreement at COP28.

The big question is how to save the climate conference from war, given the growing global division? Attention of the President of COP28 transition Away from fossil fuels, the world’s renewable energy capacity will triple, and climate finance will not drag if the current conflict dominates the stage and blows the air out of the room.

Political leadership alone is not enough to tackle the scale of the problem, so it requires moral leadership to change the conflict that is creating a fault line for the rest of the world. For the Middle East, the region’s faith-based voices add depth to the conversation about decarbonization, spiritually and ethically coherent societies, and moral clarity about the need to de-escalate conflict.

Leveraging the full range of societal influence, including religion, can help address political divisions that impede meaningful environmental action. As organizations Faith for our planet (On the board I sit on) For example, it will be at COP28 to highlight the importance of integrating faith-based perspectives into international environmental efforts. Headed by Prime Minister Dr. Muhammad Bin Abdul Karim Al Isa – He understood the escalation of conflict and led the first delegation of the Islamic religion. Auschwitz In his role as Secretary General of the Muslim World League – this initiative demonstrates the potential power of faith-based leadership.

In Dubai, regional faith leaders have the capacity to forge cooperative action on climate change, and change the current conflict through back-channel and public diplomacy, but they must be empowered to do so, which means multi-track diplomacy. .

Building on this extension of reconciliation, we need an unprecedented effort by the United States and other international actors to transform this conflict—not only to save thousands more lives, but to save the planet. In many ways, the road to a global climate agreement runs through Gaza.

We want world leaders like Biden at the climate conference table to talk about conflict escalation and decarbonization because they are interconnected. Failure to act on climate means more resource conflicts, failure to change current conflicts means less agreement on the COP. Now is the time to lean on both.

Shank is adjunct faculty at New York University’s Center for International Affairs and George Mason University’s Carter School of Peace and Conflict Resolution, and serves on the Board of Trust for the Planet.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author.