UAE floods show impact of growing global extreme weather threat, Dubai conference hears

UAE's representative to International Renewable Energy Agency, Dr Nawal Al Hosany, said Emirates was tested by historic storms

Heavy flooding on the D65 Exit from Sheikh Zayed road in Al Quoz, days after the UAE was hit by intense rainfall. Antonie Robertson / The National
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The intense rain and floods that inundated parts of the UAE are the latest in a series of extreme global weather events that are only going to get worse, the UAE's Permanent Representative to the International Renewable Energy Agency has said.

Dr Nawal Al Hosany said the impact from last week’s historic flooding was severe and such occurrences are getting more common around the world, even in this year alone.

She told the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development forum on Tuesday that the extreme weather is “a snapshot of the future we are hurtling towards” and the world needs to come together to tackle it.

“The impact was severe,” Dr Al Hosany said, of last week’s flood. “Our infrastructure was tested and our roads … in some cases resembled lakes.

“Those flash floods are the latest in a stream of extreme weather events that are only growing longer and more devastating."

She said people around the world from Bolivia to Kazakhstan have already been affected by major floods this year.

“The social and economic damage that extreme weather conditions are causing is beyond compare.”

Her comments came on the first day of the conference in Dubai that is examining the pressing humanitarian issues facing the world including the impact of the escalating climate crisis on humanitarian aid and relief.

Dr Al Hosany said the climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis. She highlighted the historic outcome at Cop28 in Dubai last year and how the decision by close to 200 countries to transition away from fossil fuels had rightly made global headlines.

But she noted that something that did not grab as much attention or limelight at the crucial talks was how humanitarian relief was threaded through the climate discussions.

Two declarations were issued at Cop28 on “climate relief, recovery and peace” and the “declaration on climate and health”.

The first saw signatories commit to scaling up financial support for climate adaptation and resilience, while the second commits to boosting climate-resilient development, the strengthening of health systems and the building of resilient and thriving communities.

Dr Al Hosany said these declarations make clear that peace and recovery are not only outcomes of effective climate action but also prerequisites for its success. They put people at the centre of the climate discourse, she said.

“By 2050, there could be up to 1.2 billion climate refugees,” she said, while also highlighting how the the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has cautioned global temperatures could continue to rise 0.2ºC every decade unless countries slash emissions and boost the world’s threatened ecosystems.

The world has already warmed by more than 1ºC, scientists believe, putting livelihoods under pressure, imperilling people’s health and hurting ecosystems,

“Expected damages to farming, infrastructure, productivity and health is expected to cost an estimated $38 trillion per year through to 2050," said Dr Al Hosany.

“But, as always, it will be the poorer parts of the world, including South Asia and Africa, that feel the pinch the most."

She warned this was a “red alert” for the world’s population and was unfortunately a “snapshot of the future we are hurtling towards”.

“Unless we can come together to do what diplomacy was designed to do: connect, collaborate and come up with solutions that put people first,” she said.

“Whether that’s people on the frontlines of climate change or conflict, or maybe both.

“The world needs your help, our help, more than ever. So, let’s get to work.”

Dihad, meanwhile, continues in Dubai until Thursday.

UAE flooding clean-up effort - in pictures

Updated: April 23, 2024, 2:25 PM