By: George Kurzom
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons (Afaq magazine):
In Palestine, one can assert that winters have become colder with higher precipitation over shorter periods. On the other hand, summers, in comparison with the seasons throughout the last thirty to forty years, have become hotter and drier. According to experts in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Palestine will witness, during the next five years, a rise of one-degree Celsius, and around four degrees Celsius by the end of the current century. Rainfall will decrease during the past five years by tens percent of its annual average. Of course, this will directly negatively impact all aspects of life in Palestine; from water and health, through agriculture and biodiversity, to energy. As we approach the end of the current century, Palestinian territories will witness further water scarcity, desertification, and worsening health conditions resulting from diarrhea, dehydration, and epidemics such as cholera.
Even though the effects of climate change across the Levant are very similar, Palestinians, particularly in the West Bank and Gaza are more susceptible and vulnerable to these effects because of settler occupation. The Israeli occupation is considered the greatest threat to the ecological and climactic stability in Palestine. This is evidenced in the racist Apartheid Wall, looting of the land and the natural resources and water, and the continuous expansion of settlements. This is resulting in Palestinians lacking political and national sovereignty over the land, resources, water, and food; thus making the Palestinians more vulnerable to climate fluctuations.
For the sake of comparison, Israeli rate for carbon dioxide emissions per capita is among the highest in the world, at about 11 tons per year per capita (Haaretz, 20 Sep 2018), while the Palestinian rate does not exceed half a ton per year per capita. The average Israeli emission per capita is twenty two times higher than that of the Palestinian. It is even greater than most European countries where the public transportation and energy conservation are more developed than Israel.
Add to the above the fragility and impotence of the Palestinian autonomy, which does not have a free political will to enable it to work towards mitigating climate risks. Nonetheless, the Palestinian Authority has drafted environmental policy plans, most recently in 2016, stating that the Palestinian Authority will allocate, over the next 10 years, three and a half billion dollars to climate change adaptation. The plans did not mention how these funds will be obtained!
In sum, as long as the Palestinians do not enjoy political and national sovereignty over their land and natural and water resources, they will not be able to effectively adapt to climate change, and will therefore remain exposed and vulnerable to the dangers of food and water insecurity.
Translated by: Carol Khoury