A top official from the United Arab Emirates says his nation needs to focus on securing food supplies and conserving water in the coming years, as a stopgap effort to deal with the sobering ramifications of climate change.
The country's Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber told Gulf News during the two-day Abu Dhabi Ascent summit on climate change that "I anticipate there will be an increased emphasis on securing food supplies, through international bilateral and multilateral agreements. This will be combined with research and training efforts to increase food production, while using less energy and water." Al Jaber added that global warming has already started impacted the UAE's food supplies:
We have seen in recent years climate change and its effects have aggravated the strains on our natural resources. In addition to ensuring future generations enjoy sustainable, renewable energy, we must also safeguard our water and food supplies... Time is running out. We have perhaps 10 to 15 years to deliver concrete solutions to the challenges posed by climate change.”
According to Al Jaber, the U.A.E. — which imports 90 percent of its food and owes much of its wealth to oil exports — is especially at risk of suffering from climate change.
Abu Dhabi Ascent, which took place on this past Sunday and Monday in the eponymous city, featured a number of speakers (including, naturally, Al Gore) on the dangers of climate change and possible solutions. The event was conceived as a way to "catalyze major steps on the ground and towards an ambitious global climate agreement," according to United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-moon. The U.N. is set to host an official climate summit in New York in September, where concrete steps for dealing with global warming are set to be laid out. (Good luck getting anyone to agree on them.)
Among the solutions offered by speakers was the establishment of a carbon market; an option touted by Gore during his speech. Sophie Yeo, of the group Responding to Climate Change, writes in a blog post that the idea was also tacitly approved in a World Bank draft proposal on the subject:
Asked what the one action he would like to see governments take in the fight to limit global warming, he said, “Put a price on carbon in markets and put a price on denial in politics,” to loud applause from the audience... His call for a carbon market was given substance by the World Bank, which issued a draft statement inviting governments and companies to “pledge to work together towards the long-term objective of a carbon price applied throughout the global economy”.
Gore has taken some heat for his support of carbon emission trading, with skeptics saying he stands to profit from the market. Still, an offset program that fight global pollution might beat stockpiling food to prepare for global famine.