TORONTO, Oct 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Global warming could make life in the oil-rich, desert kingdoms of the Gulf “intolerable,” with summer temperatures exceeding 60 degrees Celsius (140 F) by 2100 if action is not taken to curb fossil fuel emissions, a study warned on Monday.
Using climate models and other scientific data, researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Loyola Marymount University found five of the region’s major cities, including Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, would exceed the limit of human habitability in summer months.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current trajectory, then temperatures in that region will reach levels intolerable to humans,” Elfatih A.B. Eltahir, an MIT engineering professor and the study’s co-author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Rich people who have air conditioning would survive, but you may worry about the poor people in places like Yemen who don’t have air conditioning,” he said.
The region, with some of the world’s highest energy production and consumption per capita, would “benefit from mitigation efforts,” Eltahir said.
He declined to elaborate on how such nations so dependent on fossil fuel exports and usage could best tackle climate change.
The paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, comes ahead of a United Nations summit on global warming in Paris where world leaders will try to secure a deal to curb global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
Gulf nations have some of the world’s largest reserves of oil and gas, and environmental groups consider the countries to be laggards on combating global warming.
The Climate Change Performance Index, an environmental watchdog, ranked Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy, dead last out of 61 nations for its work in combating global warming in its 2015 assessment. (Reporting by Chris Arsenault, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)