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  • Ahmed Saleh

In MENA Climate Week, a vital report revealed Saudi Arabia's climate challenges

Jeddah, October 12, 2023, During MENA Climate Week, a significant report emerged, shedding light on Saudi Arabia's potential challenges in a 3°C warmer world. Collaboratively crafted by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), AEON Collective, and King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), the 130-page report addresses the alarming pace of climate change in Saudi Arabia compared to other regions. While the global average temperature could rise by nearly 3°C by the century's end, the MENA region, including Saudi Arabia, may experience this change even sooner. Specific socio-economic and emissions scenarios play a crucial role, underlining the vital connection between policy choices, socio-economic growth, and climate change. The most extreme scenario envisions a 5.6°C temperature increase in the Arabian Peninsula by the century's close.

Professor Matthew McCabe of KAUST, the report's coordinating editor, stressed the need for this assessment, noting its comprehensive overview of the cascading consequences of climate change on various Saudi sectors, including natural ecosystems, urban environments, and human health.

Princess Mashael AlShalan from AEON Collective, an author of the report, emphasized that climate change affects every facet of life, from health and food to water and the economy. The report delves into the consequences of climate change on Saudi Arabia's diverse habitats, from marine systems experiencing significant stress to the expansion of deserts, posing threats to native vegetation and wildlife. Human health will also be impacted, with deteriorating air quality potentially exacerbating respiratory issues and concerns about climate change favoring vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue.

Nonetheless, the report emphasizes that many of these negative consequences can still be averted. Recent years have shown Saudi Arabia's commitment to transformational change, with a focus on protecting, preserving, and restoring natural capital. Given its vast solar potential, dedication to economic diversification under Saudi Vision 2030, and global energy market significance, Saudi Arabia is well-positioned to lead climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

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