Gulf Daily News
BAHRAIN has one of the highest rates of carbon dioxide emissions in the world, a top UN official said yesterday. The emission is 23.9 tonnes per person per year, said UN resident co-ordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative Sayed Aqa.
"This is compared to 20 tonnes per person per year in the US," he revealed.
"The emission is largely from the energy sector, and every effort should be made to control this."
Mr Aqa was speaking to the media at a ceremony held at the UN House where the 18th human development report issued by UNDP was launched.
The launch ceremony was attended by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Nazar Al Baharna, Public Commission for the Protection of Wildlife, Marine Resources and Environment Under-Secretary Dr Ismail Al Madani and other officials.
The report asserts that most wealthy countries are failing to meet their targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.
According to this protocol, the rich countries must reduce emissions by 30 per cent before 2020 and by 80pc before 2050.
Developing countries, including Bahrain, should cut emissions by 20pc before 2050.
Mr Aqa said the total gas emissions in the world last year was 29.5 gega tonnes.
It is the poorest countries that will bear the biggest burden of climate change in the short term, said Mr Aqa.
"These countries have contributed very little to the stock of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere," he noted.
"This presents an ethical challenge: the past and ongoing actions of rich countries immediately threaten some of the most vulnerable people in the world."
Developing countries cannot be expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same rate or over the same timeframe.
Economic growth and poverty reduction efforts cannot be sacrificed.
However, developing countries with higher carbon footprints, including Bahrain, will need to start to undertake changes by 2020, but with support from developed countries.
"If every person in the developing world had the same carbon footprint as the average person in Canada or the US, we would need nine planets to absorb all the pollution."
The challenge of climate change will require a collective action, said Dr Al Baharna.
"While the government draws up policies, the society at large including the non-governmental organisations should come together to ensure its successful implementation," he noted.
"The emission statistics in Bahrain seem to be high because of the high density of population and small size of our country."
"Bahrain's plans to diversify the economy and open up more service-related industries will contribute towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions."
The theme of this year is Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World.
The report warns all people to reflect upon how we mange the environment and the Earth we share in common.
The entire human community is required to undertake immediate and strong collective action based on shared values and shared vision.
Failure to respond to this challenge will stall and then reverse international efforts to reduce poverty, the report said.
Increased exposure to draughts floods and storms is already destroying opportunity and reinforcing inequality.
It is believed that the world is moving towards the point at which ecological catastrophe would be irreversible and unavoidable.
There is a window of opportunity for avoiding the most damaging climate change impacts, but the window is closing: the world has less than a decade to change course.
If sea level rises by one metre, six million people will be displaced in lower Egypt, Mr Aqa said, quoting the report.
"If action is not taken to reduce its impact, development gains will be washed away and submerged."
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