Mediterranean: Combating climate change

Published November 9th, 2022 - 06:54 GMT
Combatting climate change
Combatting climate change (Shutterstock)

 A pavilion for the Mediterranean countries was inaugurated on the sidelines of the UN climate summit (COP27), currently underway in Egypt’s seaside city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The 2nd warmest region globally, the Mediterranean region is a climate hotspot, with the region warming 20% faster than the global average.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Grammenos Mastrojeni, First Deputy Secretary-General of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), said the pavilion is an opportunity to get acquainted with the Mediterranean Expert Network on Climate Change and Environment (MedECC).

UfM is an intergovernmental institution that brings together 42 countries, including 15 countries south and east of the Mediterranean, and all countries of the European Union.

The MedECC network, which includes more than 600 scientists from 35 countries, is an independent advisory body.

The warmest!

Mastrojeni said climate change is a global threat, posing a major risk specifically to the Euro-Mediterranean region.

“The Mediterranean region is the 2nd fastest region in the world in terms of temperature rise, and water temperature in the Mediterranean Sea is also the highest,” he noted.

He underlined the need for confronting the repercussions of climate change such as the rapid sea level rise, water scarcity, and increased weather extremes.

“The problem with climate negotiations is that they are conducted by parties or blocs, not individual countries, and unfortunately there is no regional Mediterranean group accredited by the UN system,” he said.

Mastrojeni indicated that the Mediterranean countries are divided into three groups; the Arab group, the Western EU group, and a group that includes the rest of Europe.

Mediterranean Pavilion

Mastrojeni said the COP27 pavilion provides a platform for all stakeholders in the Mediterranean to tell their stories.

“A story of threats, but also a story of solutions,” he explained. “The Mediterranean region has embraced most of the oldest civilizations, which provides a chance to learn from all the diverse history, and to work to create an atmosphere of integration."

Mastrojeni said Europe seeks to reduce carbon emissions, “which is impossible to achieve without relying on solar and wind energy, which is available in the southern Mediterranean and Balkan countries.”

“The Mediterranean pavilion is designed to be a meeting point for cooperation, by opening the dialogue about the resources available in the region,” he added.

Mastrojeni said the UfM philosophy is not based on the North helping the South, but a philosophy that emphasizes mutual help.

“If all resources are gathered, then this crisis can be tackled,” he added.

Mastrojeni denied that the research focus is on the north since the UfM headquarters is located in Spain.

“The UfM supports groups of scientists to draw scenarios for the situation in light of climate change,” he explained.

Food security

Mastrojeni said although sea level rise poses a threat to coastal cities, the sinking of beaches is “just the beginning.”

"The danger of sea level rise is not about sinking cities like Venice, but salty seawater will destroy agricultural soil," he said.

He pointed out that "more than 40% of Mediterranean agriculture takes place along the coasts, therefore, sea level rise represents a major threat to food security."

Mastrojeni told Anadolu Agency that the threats of climate change in the Mediterranean are uneven. “Some populations are more vulnerable than others,” he noted.

Mastrojeni stressed that combining energies is an important step towards tackling the climate change crisis, underlining the importance of exporting agricultural products to drought-stricken countries of the south.

“This kind of new economy helps reduce disparities between countries,” he said, citing as an example the investments in the production of green hydrogen in the south.

“This is driven by the concept that sharing opportunity is essential to address climate change and save the earth,” he noted.

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