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Hello Egypt, Bonn, Jerusalem- the countdown of the climatic hourglass has begun!

Pictures of Heads of 9 South EU countries. Athens, 17 September 2021
Source: web site of Greek prime minister. (Γ.Τ. Πρωθυπουργού/ Δημήτρης Παπαμήτσος)
Link: https://primeminister.gr/en/2021/09/17/27471

The day after September 17th, and a minute before the Sharm meeting, the countdown of the climatic hourglass has begun.

What is behind a date on the calendar that turns it into a road-sign, that if the inert direction will be chosen, like continuing driving the road of “business as usual” – the chance of meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement is getting further and further away, and so are the growing gaps between the countries’ capabilities in the Mediterranean region to cope with the climate challenge.

Therefore, the political climatic thinking should change direction. Especially when the end of summer 2022 is closing on us, with unprecedented historical records of drought and shortage of water in European western countries such as Germany and France, biblical scale of floods in Pakistan and frequent occurrences of “extreme weather” around the globe, it’s time to review the UN climate preparatory teams and the political statements by EU leaders, towards COP27, the annual gathering to be held in 2 months’ time. The working process of the past year not only revealed the deep rift between the parties, but also exposed the long path need to go to bridge the gaps between the parties, to reach wide understandings on the core issues on the ‘post-Paris’ climate era, so all eyes are focused on Sharm el-Sheikh, in the Arab republic of Egypt.

The timing, comes 8 years before the target year 2030, where it will be possible to examine in practice the worth of commitments made 15 years ago at the COP21 Paris Conference, which were aimed to reducing the GHG emissions, on state level.

A year and a day ago, ‘Athens Declaration’ was signed on the 17th September by 9 heads of states from the northern Mediterranean, all member states of the European Union.

The article is therefore aimed to those who signed, and to the heads of countries that were not included in the ‘Athens Declaration’, especially from the southern Mediterranean, and outlines the need for a new framework for the Mediterranean region, more precisely the Euro-Med region, an eye opener to Brussels that for declarations to be effective it needs a comprehensive Euro Med forum.

Although it is still early to evaluate the results of the coming conference COP27, it is already fair to determine that a hanging doubt whether states would meet these COP21 committed objectives, is not negligible – and yet, we seek to shed international attention as to the focus of the climate discourse on the social weight and socio-political climate governance, which are the basis for a safe road from that embarked in Paris, and especially all the way to Sharm el-Sheikh.

The unique location of the forthcoming conference – both through its geo-physical, the Sinai Peninsula on the shores of the Red Sea, which brings together the two world natural resources – desert and sea – that are dramatically and broadly affected by regional climate change and globally affect human and natural ecosystems on a historical scale,  and geopolitically, at the seam zone between Africa and the Emirates to the south, and the Mediterranean and Europe to the north – requires examining the climate outline of countries in a regional prism, when the Mediterranean countries play a significant role, not only in meeting the goals of the renewable energy transition, but in setting a goal of reducing socio-economic and governance gaps between neighboring countries in climate preparedness, and making the social-democrat values an integral part of the engine in outlining implementable regional climate policy.

On the background of a variety of reports on climate policy around the world published in recent years, it is worth noting the data from the Oxford Group, Our World Data, and an analysis of global data.

The state of readiness of each country for the ultimate target of “Net Zero emissions” is divided according to defined categories and ranges from ‘lack of data’, ‘discussion’, ‘policy documents’ to ‘legislation’. An examination of the latest data (2021) shows that there is a clear profile of gaps between Western and Northern European countries and Mediterranean countries. An even greater gap in socio-political deployment is found between the Northern and Southern Mediterranean countries.

In Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and all North African countries including Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Western Sahara – countries that are a transit site for illegal migrants through the Mediterranean, do not have data regarding the state program on the subject, including Albania in the North. Few Mediterranean countries such as Malta, Greece and Croatia, are categorized under ‘Target under discussion (2050)’, While in Italy, Portugal and Turkey the issue is defined ‘In policy document (2050)’. In France, Spain and United Kingdom, the subject is already anchored in legislation.

And if someone needs to be convinced that the governmental efforts so far have not been much effective, the 2022 summer season as that of 2021 in Med region provided visual approval that seemed like a ‘promo’ to a nightmare scenario of climate policy that is escaping decision-makers, and the recognition that the climate crisis is far more severe than previous estimates. A situation that requires not to break the “business as usual” routine of the Paris version and ‘watchful waiting’ to 2030, but to challenge now the basic assumptions in coping with the climate crisis, specifically in the Mediterranean.

The article is therefore referring the steps declared in Northern Mediterranean countries (September 2021) following the climate crisis and outlines a new framework based on three points, that internalization and adoption of which will actively assist stabilize the climatic emergency in the Mediterranean region, with social and economic climate horizon. The main 3 points are:

  1. The internalization of climate inequality as part of state-level climate policy, and as part of defined regional collaborations, such as the North-South Mediterranean geo-political climate zones.
  2. Outlining of a long-term climate emergency policy, based on principles of climatic justice and reducing gaps in regional scale in the implementation of low carbon economy policy, focusing on renewable sources. This policy should be applied in wider geographical circles than state level that was agreed in the Paris protocol and in geographical circles that interface with of climate induced migration. For example, North Africa as transit stations for migration to Euro-Med, or more continental areas such as the Sahel and Lake of Chad which became climatic zones of forced displacement for millions of people. The Middle East, and even Western Asia, should be accounted due to the link to climate migration, being a source for waves of refugees partly due to climate risks and large-scale economic displacement.
  3. The need to create an Agenda for climate democracy, which will formulate a core social program and to focus on educational learning programs both for shaping awareness and for building climate resilience of community and civic engagement in climate governance.

Targeting the above-mentioned regional climate plan as a ‘Mitigation of socio-economic gaps and adaptation to social-democracy climate governance’ – in the Euro-Med, where interlinked climate justice in the immediate zone (state level) together with wider geographical region with similar vulnerability for climate change and potentiality to be a source for cross continental migration, is aimed to spotlight on the centrality of democracy and governance values and mainstreaming, it is an instrument for the long term, that shapes climate strategy on the international level and among Euro-Med decision-makers.

This outline highlights not only the fact that “the environment does not recognize political boundaries”, certainly when repeated occurrences of wildfires as attested in Med summers, but mainly highlights the need for cooperation between North-South Mediterranean countries, and not only among the Northern Med countries, when targeting action plan for climate emergency strategy.

As part of a new initiative of ‘Tahadhari Center for Climate and Migration in Euro-Med region’ registered in Brussels, we act that South Med countries be part of a regional climate agreement for collaboration, where climate justice and economic development are the frame of the solution. For example, Jordan, which has faced the ‘forced absorption’ of millions of Syrians on its land, refugees were housed in an arid region in the north-east of the Hashemite kingdom, with low carrying capacity of natural resources,  so without sustainable climate management, such mass scale absorption will be an accelerator factor in the economic deterioration of Jordan and as a multiplier threat for sustainability of the region, including acting as fuel for igniting conflicts between local population since groups compete on poor resources. Israel as well, although having the technological advantage over its neighbors which provide capacity to deal with climate change’ consequences, specifically in arid region, should be targeted for regional sustainability and not only for economic profitable considerations that are further deepening the gaps in Med region.

Surely a special focus needs to address the low-income South Mediterranean countries that are dealing with difficulties and lack of skilled programs in adopting the Green Deal program, and in their long term strategy for the affective adoption of a low carbon economy. We anticipate that the model for global forecasts based on IPCC as literally defined “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” is probably outdated and the Mediterranean region should adopt the IPCCRC in the meaning of the “International Platform for Climate Change Regional Collaborations”.

It is not only that the European Green Deal program must develop new mechanisms to help combat energy poverty and targeting gaps in climate regional objectives, and to facilitate the transition to renewable energy in weakened countries and anchor plans for climate resilience, as well as for climate governance in which citizens and various stakeholders are able to influence, part of our shared efforts for long term regional sustainability. Neighboring countries, the 9 EU state members signed the ‘Athens Declaration’, together with the heads of Euro-Med countries in Northern Mediterranean (Albania) and especially in the Southern Mediterranean, need to be vigilant and cooperate.

Authors:

Carmit Lubanov (Israel) is Environment and Climate policy advocate in regional prism of reducing gaps South-North Mediterranean. Dr. Mark Causon (Malta) is economist with wide background of EU projects. They are Co-founders of ‘Tahadhari Center for Climate and Migration in Euro-Med’, registered in Brussels. A new think tank for climate socio-economic policy aimed to strengthening climate governance and regional cooperation.

About the Author
Executive Director of Association of Environmental Justice in Israel (AEJI), has expertise on Environmental Justice and Social Theory, as well as long time engaged on field projects among weak links of the society. The focus of Carmit work is the inter linkages between the social, Environmental and political policy, environmental poverty, inequity and discrimination. Carmit has specialized on research, policy advocacy, and mobilizing processes for long term change.
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