In a climate & ecological emergency we must find a middle ground in the Middle East, by Matai Ben Aharon, Israel

The Middle East is a microcosmos of the world regarding the climate and ecological emergency – the division between rich fossil fuel economies and corporations, who are responsible for more than 40% of the world’s emission, and emerging nations who are going to be hit by the crisis the most, contributing close to zero to the problem. A spiraling down situation, due to a region heating twice the global average, and regional unpreparedness, calls for emergency action to shift global and regional fossil fuel subsidies to renewables and form cooperation, in light of the Glasgow COP 26 and the coming Qatari 2022 world cup, for regional climate binding agreements.   


Paris Climate Agreement, 2020

The Middle East as a microcosmos of the global problem

Most of the public doesn’t understand it yet or think there is an over-exaggeration, but what we face globally is an alarming climate and ecological emergency – on a scale we have yet to see before in human history.
The progressive EU has declared it as an emergency and has developed, though not sufficient, an emergency action plan. The new Biden administration categorized it as a national strategic threat. Even China has put a net-zero emissions target for 2060. Thus, the world is starting to awaken to the sheer enormity of the problem, but it happens way too slow.
With more and more countries giving pledges to net-zero targets, accounting for 63% of the world’s emissions, under the Paris agreement, one could think things are under control, but they are far from it.
At the moment, pledges are holding global warming temperature rise to a catastrophic  2.6 degrees on average. Regardless of whether countries will stand in their commitments, which is highly unlikely, in the current state, we’re on a devastating 4-6 degree trajectory. But let us imagine for a moment that obligations will be met. Unfortunately, we will still overshoot targets and come to a very dangerous 2.6-degree turf, which scientists believe will be way over the capacity of humanity to deal with.

Radical action is needed through all parts of society around the globe to get a chance to avoid the worst parts of the crisis – preventing wars on food and water, immense amounts of refugees, and protecting the basic elements that allow life to be sustained.
Economically the world is going to be hit much worse than the short-lived Covid19.
Rich counties are expected to lose 8% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 2050, equaling about 23 trillion USD in an optimistic scenario. By the Year 2100, US GDP will shrink by an average of 2.6% every year (in an optimistic scenario) if the crisis is not dealt with today.


Science is very clear about it, and we are in an emergency. Unfortunately, the great barrier dealing with it is a political one.
The greatest world carbon emitters – fossil fuel companies and economies, are unwilling to stop their activities while getting huge economic support from governments in the form of 5.2 trillion dollars of subsidies a year. So how is it possible that these subsidies are not going to renewable energy, asks the environmental community while waiting for the prince on the white horse to save us?
But the more realistic and progress-oriented question should be, why are these subsidies not going for an in house transition to renewable – where companies and economies are not left behind and rather move as fast as possible to renewables with no one left behind – while accounting for the responsibility they have for the emergency we are in.
This question might sound too forgiving for the environmental movement point of view, who had witnessed and experienced the full scale of lies of the fossil fuel industry over the years. And for the fossil fuel industry, which gave us the energy to run our economy for the past decades, it could sound too expensive – But we must find a middle ground to contain what is upon us.

The unprecedented change that needs to take place should happen everywhere and fast. But can and should start in the Middle East, which is a microcosmos of the global problem – Few rich economies, who are in charge of as much as 40% of the world oil exports and more than 14% of gas, and holds the same amount in reservoirs – the biggest current and future regional emitter irrespective of its size. Moreover, a region with one of the most suitable climates and geographic locations for renewable energy is solar and wind, next to a few very emerging countries with the least amount of contribution to global warming and those affected by it the most.


Warming Stripes for Israel from 1901-2020

The situation worsens when considering that the region, already in constant flames, is heating twice the global average – which will worsen current water and food scarcity in the region, refugee crises, and desertification, among others. That will lead to a cruel future that will affect the region and the world deeply.
The region is not prepared for those outcomes, as seen on the national level of rich countries, not to mention emerging countries who don’t have the financial possibility to prepare themselves.
The world and the region need to get their act together and start cooperating in order to prevent our own destruction.


Oil field in Northern Iraq


We must find a Middle Ground now – the Middle Ground Initiative.

The way out of this worrying and unimaginable future globally and regionally, especially in a region already in flames, is through finding a middle ground in global and regional climate finance and politics.
The two pillars are intertwined and hold the key for what could be a way out of the global, regional and local climate and ecological emergency by producing a regional cooperation model amidst the implication of the crisis upon us.

The Middle Ground Initiative is based on the understanding that we need to act fast in an emergency and that Fossil fuel companies and economies won’t divest on their own at the time and scale we need. The way forward is through the understanding that we must incentivize them to do so.
The Initiative suggests a simple and practical equation regarding current trends and in light of global and regional events – the Glasgow COP 26 and the Qatari 2022 World cup, which can forge the relevant agreements for regional cooperation, mitigation, and adaptation in the time we need.

In terms of Finance, there are three major pillars:
1. Wealthy nations will help the transition to renewable energy of oil and gas-based economies in the Middle East (Iran, Iraq, and the GCC) at around 500 billion a year until the transition is done, and under a commitment for net zero emission by 2050 and 50% reduction until 2030.
2. Wealthy nations will pay the sum through current fossil fuel subsidies and global corporate climate tax.
3. Oil and gas-based economies in the Middle East will subtract a reasonable amount of the transition money to aid emerging nations in the region at an amount of 50 billion a year.

In Politics we can find for major pillars:
To strengthen the large financial move and climate and ecological emergency mitigation – countries in the region will cooperate under binding agreements during the coming year.

1. Disputes between regional countries – Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and the GCC dispute will end.
2. Israel and Palestinians will form a confederation, and the Arab world will recognize the Israeli state and end-all incitements against it.
3. The Agreements will be signed at a summit in Qatar which will entertain the 2022 FIFA World Cup – A middle ground country geographically and politically in the Middle East – before the event, after generating the right policies in Glasgow COP 26.
4. Qatar will open the tournament’s hosting to other counties in the region for a regional co-hosting that will establish and generate the needed climate emergency and ecological mitigation and adaptation cooperation.   

Nothing less than a full-scale agreement to cut out the use of fossil fuels and mitigation of the emergency, and on-ground implementation of these agreements, would leave hope for the region and the world.
The way forward, in a complex financial and political world, is through a middle ground.


1. The cost of climate change 2. Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 3. The cost of climate change

4. Climate Change Could Cut World Economy by $23 Trillion in 2050, Insurance Giant Warns

5. Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies Remain Large: An Update Based on Country-Level Estimates 6. ‘The Power of Deserts – Climate Change, the Middle East, and the Promise of a Post-Oil Era’ by Professor Dani Rabimowitz

7. The Middle Ground Initiative 8. Based on estimated total profit of Middle East countries from oil and gas production.

9. The G-7 Deal to Tax Corporations More Is Good Climate Policy

10. Estimation based on subtraction from total wealthy nation aid to poor countries of 100 billion a year.

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