Mena states show growing awareness of climate change threat

Expert notes focus on green communication strategy in the region

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Middle Eastern countries are becoming more aware of the threat from climate change and the implications of global warming, an environmental expert said.

Dr Michael Mason, the director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics, said the rise in awareness was reflected by public messaging from places including the UAE.

“Some countries are taking quite seriously climate change communication,” he said in a webinar organised by the Council for Arab-British Understanding, a not-for-profit organisation in London.

Dr Mason, who is also an associate of LSE’s Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, referenced a picture from the UAE’s National Environment Day that showed children promoting greener decisions.

He said it served to highlight the “extent to which younger generations are educated about energy efficiency and climate change”.

Dr Mason also cited the changing nature of news reporting from the Middle East, noting “that climate change coverage in the region has traditionally been featured as foreign news, talking about international climate change negotiations”.

“But in recent years you’re seeing more and more an awareness of this is something that has domestic implications,” he said

“There’s a perception in the region that climate change is an issue.”

Research on climate attitudes, published in January, found that 64 per cent of those surveyed from eight countries in the Mena region believed that climate change was a global emergency.

The study by the UN Development Programme polled people in Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia.

The UAE has offered to host the UN climate summit Cop28 in 2023 and has received support from Bahrain and Jordan, among others.

John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, said he saw “strong arguments” for the UAE’s candidacy.

Updated: July 06, 2021, 5:35 PM