Globally, the impact of climate-induced back draws and, ultimately, migrations can be witnessed extensively. This phenomenon is less prevalent in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). However, the recent statistics on climate change and the allocation of investments in natural resources in the Gulf can revert the trend. According to the Middle East Institute (MEI), the relationship between climate change and migration still needs to be studied extensively. Climate change in the Gulf is a topic that still needs to be tackled with an intersectional approach. GCC countries sponsor investment of billions of dollars in plans for developing renewable energy. However, reports show that these plans’ application, transparency, and effectiveness remain questionable. Consequently, concerns arise over a possible strategy of ‘’greenwashing’’ to appease the international community’s requests.
According to NASA, large parts of the Gulf region will become unavailable by 2050 due to the rising temperatures that may increase by 5 degrees by the end of this century. Climate change already has detrimental effects such as desertification, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, and rising sea levels. Saudi Arabia has recently faced climate hazards, including floods caused by heavy rainfalls. In addition, according to the World Bank, by 2025, almost 100 million people in the MENA region will be exposed to high-level water stress. In this prospect, the absence of a regional cooperation mechanism will likely cause distress in the area.
Officially, all the Gulf countries have ratified the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Paris Climate Agreement and have made official promises to mitigate the effects of climate change. Notably, five Gulf countries have set a net-zero emission plan to achieve by this century’s end. To tackle climate change, Gulf countries set up political institutions to draft policies on climate-related challenges.
On the other hand, concerns arise about the promises made by these countries. Firstly, they tackle climate change only with the Ministry of Environment. This approach fails to deal with the effect of climate change on cross-sectoral aspects of society, including human rights. Secondly, the policies proposed to tackle climate change are questionable. Often, they lack transparency, and when presented, they do not involve different sectors of society. Thirdly, the MEI Institute reports that even when regional plans are launched, they are often unsuccessful due to geopolitical tensions. Finally, it is legitimate to question the intentions of GCC countries regarding climate change. Notably, the former president of COP28, Sultan Al-Jaber, stated that no evidence exists between climate change and fossil fuels. This declaration collides with years of scientific research and probably underlines a willingness to maintain supremacy in the fossil fuel market.
From a human rights perspective, the situation in the Gulf is especially concerning for different reasons. Firstly, there is an incumbent issue with natural resources like water that will likely trigger displacement. Secondly, the Gulf is the destination of millions of migrants who each year suffer the burden of rising temperatures. From this overview, the Gulf will be subject to seasonal migrations of the wealthiest classes. On the other hand, the lowest classes and migrants will likely suffer from a lack of natural resources (including food) due to the rising temperatures. In this sense, regional courts have pointed out the interrelation between human rights and climate change and possible backdraws on the right to life. ADHRB is especially concerned about the evolution of this issue in the Gulf in the upcoming years. For this reason, we call on the international community, especially the UN, to monitor the future allocation of investments in natural resources and the issue of climate change in the Gulf.