Early in the morning, Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck and Federal Foreign Office Climate Commissioner Jennifer Morgan stand on the shores of the Dead Sea in Jordan. Or rather, where the shore was only a few decades ago. From here it is already a good 20 meters downhill, only then does the water flow. Here, in one of the hottest places on earth, sea levels drop by a meter a year. Now, just after 9am local time, it’s almost 40 degrees.
Robert Habeck and Jennifer Morgan at the Dead Sea
The conference brings together the countries of the region and Europe
Falling sea level: a consequence of climate change, hitting this region harder than almost any other. Which in turn is the reason why Habeck and Morgan are here now. The conference is chaired by the German Minister of Economy and Climate Protection, together with the Jordanian hosts Future Energy Dialogue in Europe MENAa small climate and energy conference attended by around 20 countries from the region, but also some European countries such as Greece and the Czech Republic.
MENA stands for Middle East and North Africa, that is, for the countries of North Africa and the Middle East. Their meeting is about how countries can work together in the future to tackle climate protection.
Jennifer Morgan, who is here because she has known many of her time actors for years, says DW: “This conference is important and good because it brings together different actors from the region in a very specific way with European partners, and the European Commission also has affiliation. And that’s special. ” Morgan has been a well-known environmental activist for many years, most recently as head of Greenpeace. And he was appointed in the spring by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, like Habeck, a member of the Greens, as Commissioner for International Climate Protection.
Morgan: “Climate Change Forces Collaboration”
The fact that Europeans are now involved, says Morgan, is actually new. But not that about 20 MENA states were meeting on energy issues. They have been doing this since 2005, but meetings have fallen victim to the crown pandemic in recent years. Now, according to Habeck, almost euphorically, “we dare to start over”. Jennifer Morgan adds that increasingly severe global warming could eventually deliver tangible results: “There are many interrelationships between these countries, especially in terms of water and energy. And as climate change progresses, they are almost ready to cooperate, forced, ”says Morgan.
Economy Minister Habeck in conversation with Hussein bin Abdullah, Crown Prince of Jordan
Agreement of Israel, Jordan and the Emirates
Israel, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in particular are showing what this could be in practice – countries that otherwise don’t have much to say to each other. So far, Israel has only had a small share of wind or solar energy, around seven percent, but would like to increase it significantly. But there is not enough space in Israel itself, but they are in Jordan. Last November’s deal now stipulates that Jordan will make land available, and Israel will supply a neighboring country with urgently needed water.
On the other hand, the United Arab Emirates, which have long been investing their oil and gas wealth in cutting-edge technology, including renewable energy, should use their expertise to ensure that infrastructure is genuinely provided. It would be a ray of hope, especially for Jordan. Rainfall has fallen by more than three-quarters in the last 80 years. Water scarcity is one of the country’s most pressing problems.
Beware of great promises
However, caution is advised when announcing such projects. This becomes clear when you talk to activists from Eco-room says one of the few environmental groups in the region where people from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories work together. One of the directors of Nada Majdalani during Habeck’s visit to Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian territories, reports that many of the group’s proposals for cross-border climate protection have failed because Israel refuses to cooperate with the Palestinians. Even as climate change is hitting the region harder and harder, political incompatibility remains. Habeck is currently on a tour of the Middle East until Thursday.
Habeck and the Prime Minister of Palestine, Mohammed Schtaje
Opening of Habeck and Jordanian Crown Prince
How seriously Jordanians take the MENA conference is the fact that Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah visited the conference center on the Dead Sea especially for the opening. German co-organizers at the Federal Ministry of Economy said they were expecting around 200 participants, but now there are over 1000.
Minister Habeck had the opportunity to talk to his fellow ministers from countries as diverse as Egypt and Iraq. What will happen with the intention to cooperate on energy and climate issues, despite all the differences, remains to be seen in the future. Another opportunity to show how seriously the North African and Middle East region is taking the fight against greenhouse gases is the November world climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. This is currently being prepared at an introductory conference in Bonn, headquarters of the United Nations Secretariat on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The fight to protect the climate: a global problem.