Citing concerns over food and water security, President Obama recently drew the link between climate change and security in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. In an area where tensions over scarce resources are already high, the impacts of climate change could exacerbate existing political strife. So it’s no surprise that Israel, Palestine, and Jordan are three areas that the international community has its eye on when discussing these security concerns. What is worrying—if not surprising—is the lack of action being taken to address climate change adaptation within this region, specifically within Palestine.
The concept of climate change has emerged in the most recent Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP), which outlines the government’s key budgetary priorities for the 2008-2010 timeframe, and the Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority (EQA) is in the process of generating a climate change risk and vulnerability assessment report/adaptation strategy for Palestine. The hope is that the general ideas presented in this report will translate into a concrete action plan for Palestine sometime in the near future, but nothing yet is on the horizon. Citing the Israeli occupation and a lack of funding as obstacles, little to no action has been taken outside of pilot projects — such as a wind turbine at a hospital in Hebron and wind and solar power for 27 homes in a village near Hebron.
It’s true enough that the obstacles in implementing climate change policy in the face of an extended occupation are numerous and overwhelming at best, but the threats of doing too little are large enough and serious enough for the Palestinian people that more action must be taken. There is room enough for low-technology solutions such as the more widespread use of grey water for irrigation and the implementation of environmental outreach programs. Organizations like COMET (Community, Energy, and Technology in the Middle East) are already poised to help assist in the more widespread use of solar panels and wind turbines.
The Palestinian Energy Authority (PEA), in conjunction with Palestinian Energy and Environment Research Center (PEC), has formulated a 5-year national master plan for developing renewable energy resources and increasing energy efficiency in Palestine, two goals which they see as having “crucial effects on the general economy, the environment, and the energy security of the country.” The plan aims for an increase of renewable energy in Palestine’s energy balance to a full 20% of the total by investing in solar energy and biofuel from solid waste. According to the EQA report, other projects under consideration include a 100MW concentrated solar power plant for Jericho and a solar-powered desalination plant in Gaza.
However, the PNA has yet to adopt any specific policies or regulations and the PEA/PEC are still seeking financial and technical support to assist in the implementation process of this master plan.
But with the EU pledging billions in climate change aid to developing countries and the international community concerned about the escalation of political strife over dwindling resources, now is the time to act.
Visit our website to learn more about climate change in the Middle East, and what FoEME is doing about it.
This post was written by FoEME intern Nikki Hodgson. Nikki is based in FoEME’s Bethlehem office.