Climate Disasters Cost Arab Nations $12 Billion, World Bank Says

Disasters related to global warming have cost Arab nations $12 billion in the past 30 years and will accelerate as climbing temperatures make many cities in the region unlivable, the World Bank said in a report.

Without curbs on fossil-fuel emissions, the region can expect average temperatures to rise 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, triple the target agreed on at United Nations climate talks and higher than the World Bank’s 4-degree estimate for the world.

The result may make heat waves routine across Arab nations, triggering summertime highs above 54 degrees Celsius (129 Fahrenheit) in Kuwait and costing farmers in Tunisia and Yemen $4.2 billion in the next four decades, the bank said. The report was among scientific papers issued at UN talks showing the Middle East is among regions most vulnerable to climate change.

“There will be lower rainfall, higher temperatures and ongoing encroachment of the desert,” Rachel Kyte, vice president for sustainable development at the bank, said today in a briefing at the talks in Doha. “Climate change threatens to roll back the prosperity that so many people enjoy.”

The Qatari capital, built at sea level, could itself become a swamp without action to curb global warming, according to estimates from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

“There will be a sea-level rise in the range of 3 meters” (9.8 feet) by 2300 and as much as 1 meter by the end of this century, said Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the German research organization.

Tunisian farmers will lose $700 million by 2050 as production declines with rainfall, while rural households in Yemen are set to lose $3.5 billion by 2040 as weather changes, Kyte said. Tourism, which now accounts for 3 percent of gross domestic product in Arab nations, will also be hurt, she said.

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