Friday, January 15, 2010

Strategic planning for climate impacts in the United Arab Emirates

Silvia Radan in the Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates): Based on a report on ‘Climate Change - Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation in UAE’ published recently, the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) has come up with recommendations of measures to be taken in order to deal with changes that could be brought about by climate change. Commissioned, researched and written by EAD and a team of experts led by William Dougherty, senior scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute — US centre, the study has already been sent to the United Nations 
Convention on Climate Change.

Focusing on UAE only, three of the most threatening outcomes of climate change have been studied in the report – rise in sea level, water resources and dry land ecosystems. The results say that 85 per cent of UAE’s population living on the coast and more than 90 per cent of the infrastructure also lying along the seashores, the country’s economy and general well-being is at risk even from a one-metre rise in sea level.

Two plausible sea level rise scenarios for the years 2050 and 2100 were studied in the report. In the first case (year 2050), the sea levels may rise between one and three metres, depending on the speed of polar ice melting, while in the second, the predictions are between two and nine metres. “Depending on the sea level rise scenario, total land area inundated in the UAE ranges from 1,155 square km to almost 5,000 square km, or roughly between one and six per cent of the country’s total land area,” the report said.

The results would, of course, imply the loss of marine eco-systems. Therefore, UAE policy makers have already started working on “adaptation” measures. “The report will help us receive new environmental technologies from the UN,” said Majid Al Mansouri, secretary general of EAD. “The Abu Dhabi Municipality is planning new buildings regulations, creating higher basements of about three metres that would cope with flooding,” said Al Mansouri….

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