With global warming, Gulf countries face the specter of an unlivable climate

Dubai | Samir painfully roams the streets of Dubai on his scooter in the hottest hours of summer. It’s 45 degrees in the shade and with global warming, temperatures in the bay are likely to become unbearable, causing a late awakening.

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“I work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in this sweltering heat” with a “break every three hours,” explains with an awkward smile this Pakistani delivery man, a mobile delivery app employee in this big city of the Emirates.

In Dubai, where the heat intensifies due to the high humidity, Emiratis and expats are fleeing the scorching summer temperatures in droves. Those who spend their time in places that are highly acclimatized and rely on a battalion of delivery personnel to reduce their outings.

The situation is likely to become more serious. With global warming, “the level of heat stress will increase significantly” in many Gulf cities, says Al-Fateh Al-Taher, professor of hydrology and climate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Towards the turn of the century, with warmer temperatures (over 50 degrees) and wetter, some regions may experience episodes of “heat stress incompatible with human survival,” this researcher told AFP.

Directly, the United Arab Emirates launched an environmental strategy for the year 2050 aimed specifically at increasing the share of clean energies from 25 to 50% and reducing the carbon footprint of electricity production by 70%.

Take it to heart

“There is a growing interest in this issue in the UAE, but we are still waiting to see the big companies take this issue seriously,” said the director of Earth Matters Consulting in Dubai. Consultant.

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In the Emirates, for several years now, aircraft have been used to seed clouds with the aim of causing rain and then falling. And soon, drones could be used for the same purpose.

In a report published in early August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that the +1.5°C threshold of pre-industrial warming would be reached around 2030, ten years earlier than previous forecasts, threatening humanity with “unprecedented” new catastrophes. .

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said this report should “put an end” to fossil fuels.

The Gulf states, which rely heavily on hydrocarbon exploitation, have always had bad press on the environmental issue, but in recent years they have sought to change their rhetoric to restore their international image, but also to diversify their economies.

For example, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi built a solar power plant, which was presented as one of the largest on the planet.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s number one crude oil exporter, which has embarked on extensive reforms to diversify its economy, has announced several major environmental projects, also focusing on solar energy.

Cooling water tanks

For nine years, Mohamed Abdel Aal has been interested in renewable energies. He is the founder of a startup that specializes in technology that “makes it possible to cool water tanks during hot summer periods using only solar energy.”

According to him, his company Silent Power has seen increased demand this (particularly hot) summer in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“We have long, strong hours of sunlight,” he asserts, facilitating the production of “clean, sustainable and inexpensive energy.”

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In Kuwait, another Gulf oil property, Khaled Jamal Al-Falih decided to run his house entirely on solar energy.

“Today, in Kuwait, a person with a mission cannot go out until after six in the evening, and he must use an air-conditioned car to reach an air-conditioned place,” he told AFP.

He insisted that the idea of ​​being able to escape the reality of climate change that was so prevalent in this country had “become impossible”.

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