Amid the thorny relations of countries in the Mediterranean basin is surprising consensus on tackling climate change and the environment.
Brussels (Brussels Morning) The global COVID-19 crisis has given us lessons on handling not only future health crises but other important and common challenges, including climate change, one of the greatest and potentially disruptive challenges of our time. Such crises, as has been learned, require a common response, based on sound science — it is after all essential to know your enemy in order to confront it.
Several organisations, particularly in the Mediterranean, such as the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) or the Mediterranean Experts on Climate and Environmental Change, have done sterling work enhancing dialogue and cooperation between the two shores of the Mediterranean Sea and their latest report should be mandatory reading for policymakers.
The report’s results are alarming, indicating millions of people’s lives residing in the Mediterranean basin could be at risk of devastation.
The Mediterranean region warms 20% faster compared to the rest of the world, with sea levels rising at considerable rate. Seven major Mediterranean cities will be impacted by this phenomenon, and 730 million of our citizens could be water poor by 2030.
This February the European Commission presented its new agenda for the Mediterranean, including an investment plan for the southern neighbourhood, identifying the Green transition as one of the five main priority policy areas of action.
To deliver a Green Deal, renewable power production must become the main source of energy for the entire economy. The massive deployment of renewable energy production, a stronger interconnection of electricity systems, such as the Italian-Tunisian El-med interconnector, as well as measures to improve energy efficiency, are all common challenges that we can turn into opportunities for our region.
We are now well aware that climate change knows no borders, waits for no man and requires a strong commitment that goes beyond temporary divisions.
The real challenge of the coming years will revolve around how to reconcile the need to work together when there is instability and distrust among countries in the Mediterranean basin.
H.E. Nasser Kamel, Secretary General of the UfM, who spoke in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament last February, reassured us, however, that, to his surprise, one topic where there is total consensus and agreement in the region has been climate change and the environment.
Everyone is committed to the Paris convention with particular enthusiasm for the Green Deal among countries of the southern shore. That is what emerged clearly, according to H.E., from the works on the draft of UfM declaration for the upcoming ministerial conference, a stepping-stone towards the next COP 26 in Glasgow, where the region is seeking to speak with one voice.
The Mediterranean region, with its diversity, offers an extended spectrum for regional and bilateral cooperation in this field, addressing common challenges such as the need for diversified energy supply and the fast growing energy demand in a currently constrained context both in terms of energy availability and environmental impacts of conventional source uses.
What is needed is to reinvigorate the cooperation with new resources, policies, plans and projects. For this reason, it will be crucial to work towards creating stronger synergies among all various policy frameworks, regional platforms and projects dealing with climate change such as, for example, the new agenda for the Mediterranean, the Mediterranean Action Plan of the UN and Clima-MED (Acting for Climate in South Mediterranean). Only by working together, can we strive to try and reverse the trajectory for a dire trajectory of climate in this region of Europe and its neighbours.