Rising sea levels 'threaten Bahrain'
Manama, November 16, 2011
Up to 22 per cent of Bahrain's land could be under water by the end of the century as a result of rising global sea levels, it was declared yesterday.
This is based on an Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme report, said Bahrain's UN resident co-ordinator, Peter Grohmann.
It concluded a likely global sea level rise of close to a metre or more by the end of the century, compared to a forecast of 0.18 to 0.59 metres by the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, he added.
'We are awaiting the final report of the second national communication on climate change for Bahrain,' said Grohmann. 'However, early results of the sea level rise modelling studies off the coasts of Bahrain suggest that between seven and 22 percent of the country's entire land could be inundated (with water).'
He said as a consequence, development infrastructure, including those critical for the country's economy such as oil and gas installations; power generation plants and transportation lines, could be under threat.
Grohmann said another threat was the rise in temperature.
'The Gulf region is already considered the hottest part of the world. However, with the effects of climate change the maximum temperature could be pushed further upward,' he said.
Grohmann said this year the heat wave that swamped the Gulf region had Kuwait registering one of the highest maximum temperatures on record.
'Increase in temperature, variable and unpredictable weather patterns will trigger higher demands for water and electricity, which are both costly and in short supply, especially during peak periods,' he said.
All these factors point to the need for a revised energy policy, balancing the fact that energy is a key engine of development with the negative impacts of unsustainable energy production, said Grohmann. 'This outlook calls for increased efforts in adaptation and mitigation measures.'
He was speaking at the opening of a day-long workshop on the impact of climate change on the energy sector in Bahrain at the Gulf Hotel. It was held under the patronage of Energy Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza and was organised by the National Oil and Gas Authority in collaboration with Electricity and Water Authority (EWA), Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife, United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.
'This is alarming to a small island state like Bahrain. It is a 'real' threat to people, natural resources and to the advancements in human development in general and has implications on all the Millennium Development Goals - from food production, health and water to environment sustainability,' he added.
He said the threat, however, also offered an opportunity to re-think development pathways and further advance national sustainable development agendas.
'The UN recognised climate change as the defining human development challenge of the 21st century and made it the focus of the Human Development Report 2007/2008.'
Grohmann said the report stipulated that failure to respond to the challenge would stall and even reverse international efforts to reduce poverty in the 21st century.
'No country, however wealthy or powerful, is and will be immune to the impact and associated risks of global warming with droughts, floods and storms already destroying development opportunities and reinforcing inequalities,' he said.
There is now scientific evidence that the world is moving towards avoiding the point of irreversible ecological crisis, said Grohmann.
He said the workshop was both important and strategic for Bahrain.
'It comes at a time when representatives of 195 countries are gearing up for the next round of climate change negotiations in Durban later this month,' said Grohmann.
He said Bahrain showed leadership on a global scale on disaster risk reduction efforts.
Grohmann said the UN system in Bahrain would continue to support the government and the people in efforts towards putting the society on a more sustainable, low-carbon and climate-resilient development path.
Energy Minister Dr Mirza said climate change had become a reality and was resulting in natural disasters - melting of ice and rising sea levels in many regions of the world.
'The impact is being felt on fish stocks and biodiversity, and storms and hurricanes are threatening our decades-old development and achievements,' he said.
Dr Mirza said the hydrocarbon energy industry faced significant challenges due to climate change and its relation to policies and systems.
He said market indicators call for the removal of carbon from energy systems as well as increasing growth of new and renewable energies.
'In the longer term, this type of effect depends on technical progress and opportunities for improving efficiency and the use of new economically viable technologies, such as carbon capture and storage.' Officials from the EWA and the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife also spoke at the event. – TradeArabia News Service