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Iraq calls for Arab action on climate change
By AFP - Dec 24,2012 - Last updated at Dec 24,2012
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s most senior energy official called for coordinated Arab action on climate change while Egypt’s environment minister proposed a regional green fund at a conference in Baghdad on Monday.
Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Hussein Al Shahristani warned of the risk of flooding, and also pointed to desertification and sandstorms affecting Iraq in his call for regional efforts to combat climate change.
The two-day conference comes after the World Bank warned in a report this month that global warming will have dire consequences for the Middle East and north Africa, with even hotter and drier conditions devastating everything from agriculture to tourism.
“All Arab countries must work under the Arab League to confront climate change,” Shahristani said in opening remarks to the conference in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone.
“The danger now is the threat of flooding in many areas, in addition to the phenomena of desertification and sandstorms that we suffer from here in Iraq.”
Iraq’s environment ministry estimated in 2009 that 39 per cent of the country’s surface was affected by desertification, while a further 54 per cent was under threat.
It also estimated that Iraq loses around 250 square kilometres of arable land annually due to degradation of various kinds.
Also at the conference, Egypt’s Minister of State for the Environment Mostapha Hussein Kamel called for the establishment of an Arab fund to back environmental projects in the region.
Of the Arab League’s 22 members, 18 sent representatives to the conference — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Tunisia and Syria were absent.
With over 30 per cent of the Kingdom’s surface water resources lost to drought and desertification believed to be caused by global warming, the Ministry of Environment is currently drafting a project to reduce the impact of climate change.
Jordan and other Arab governments have demanded that developed countries cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent in 10 years and by 80 per cent by the year 2050.
The geographically vulnerable and hazard-exposed Arab region still lacks updated data on disaster risk, a recently released joint Arab report said.
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