Picture Source: The National Website
Although Kuwait (being a desert country) is typically warmer than most places, recent spikes in temperature have proven to be quite alarming. Kuwait, one of the world’s wealthiest oil exporters, could possibly become uninhabitable within decades due to climate change.
While global warming is affecting the whole world, Kuwait is among the hottest countries in the world. Summers are predisposed as unbearable; in June and July 2021, Kuwait recorded the highest temperatures in the world in 2021, with 53.5°C in the northern city of Al Jahra and 53.2°C in Nuwaiseeb. In 2016, the temperature in Mitribah was reported to have been 53.9°C, the highest on earth in the last 76 years. The warmest years in the history of Kuwait have all been recorded since 2005, with the seven hottest having occurred since 2014.
In an effort to protect workers, the Public Authority for Manpower (“PAM ”) enforces a yearly decision that prohibits working outdoors between 11am and 4pm from June 1st to August 31st.
This change in the climate has and continues to have an adverse effect on several aspects of the country. Wildlife is gradually diminishing. During the harsh summer months, birds tend to appear dead on rooftops while cats are often found near dead from heat exhaustion and dehydration.
“The majority of large mammals that were native to Kuwait were wiped out or have disappeared. This is a result of ecological and man made factors.” Dr Mostafa A Mahmoud, wildlife and zoo management specialist stated in reference to the desertification.
The sea level is another climatic impact, as mean sea levels are expected to increase by 0.16m to 0.63m by 2050, causing coastal erosion and destructions of ecosystems as well as submersion of islands like the Boubyan Island which is expected to fully submerge within the next few decades.
Although Kuwait is OPEC’s 4th largest oil exporter, is home to the 3rd largest sovereign wealth fund and has a population of just over 4.5 million people, their response to the climate crisis has been very inadequate as there is no real commitment from the government to meet global goals for CO2 reductions. At the COP26 summit in November 2021, Kuwait pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7.4% before 2035, a target that falls far short, well beneath the 45% reduction needed to meet the Paris Agreement’s stretch goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2030. Even though Kuwait’s neighbors have taken measures against this crisis, such as Saudi Arabia stating that they would target net zero emissions by 2060, there have been no major projects to introduce sustainable technologies or practices to aid in reducing the impact of climate change.
Picture Credit: JC Gellidon
As the excessive use of AC and electricity contributes highly to CO2 and other pollutants, some power plants have switched to gas, a cleaner fossil fuel, however this leaks methane which is a powerful greenhouse gas.
Even if the world manages to cut emissions impetuously enough to ward off global warming, there will still be the problem of extreme weather. As it is, experts say Kuwait’s plan is nowhere near satisfactory to maintain a livable country.
Surveys have discovered that senior residents remain skeptical as to the urgency of the matter, while private sector views it as a matter that requires the leadership of the government in order to solve. Bickering between the Gulf’s only elected parliament and a government appointed by the ruling family has made it tedious to push through reforms on the climate or anything for that matter. Some residents state that it’s the political cataclysm that evidently prevents Kuwait from taking proper measures to solve the climate change problem.
The solution to this drastic climate change will not come with idleness. As Albert Einstein once said, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”.
January 18th 2022 | 7:15 PM