According to a study, reducing emissions can significantly reduce the number of deaths caused by extreme heat in the Middle East and North Africa.

 Scientists have stated that adhering to global targets for reducing climate change could prevent hundreds of thousands of heat-related deaths in the Middle East and North Africa. 

July 2022, the dried-up Huwaizah Marshes straddling the Iran-Iraq boundary.

The Lancet Planetary Health journal published a modeling study that revealed that curbing carbon emissions to restrict the rise in the Earth's average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius would result in an 80 percent reduction in heat-related deaths in the region as compared to a high-emissions scenario. 

This regional emphasis on heat risk coincides with Dubai's upcoming hosting of the United Nations COP28 climate summit in November. Countries have committed to limiting global warming to 1.5C in line with the Paris climate accords, and have consequently been striving to adopt low-carbon energy sources.

The study, conducted by specialists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has projected that in the absence of any emissions reductions, around 123 individuals per 100,000 in the Middle East and North Africa region would succumb to heat-related deaths every year by the end of this century. 

This rate is sixty times greater than the present death rate and surpasses that of other regions worldwide. Among the 19 countries examined, Iran is predicted to record the highest annual death rate in a high-emissions scenario, with 423 deaths per 100,000 of the population.

Shakoor Hajat, the lead author of the study, informed AFP that temperatures in certain areas of Iran were projected to be exceedingly high. Furthermore, aging is expected to occur at a faster pace in Iran as compared to numerous other countries in the region. 

Hajat cautioned that failing to achieve the 2C target would result in catastrophic health consequences. He stated that even with stronger measures, Middle Eastern countries must devise alternative methods to safeguard their citizens from the hazards of extreme heat, such as implementing national heat protection plans and heat alert warning systems. Such measures are prevalent in Europe, North America, and certain parts of Asia but not yet in the Middle East, he observed. 

Hajat recommended that many Middle Eastern and North African countries must strengthen their current healthcare systems to better prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Journal information: The Lancet Planetary Health 


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