Genesis Morocco: National Intelligence Council, North Africa: The Impact of Climate Change to 2030

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Genesis Morocco

Project Genesis is a strategic sustainable development framework for Morocco to translate from being a net importer of energy and a country facing water shortage issues, into the number one producer both of clean renewable energy and water in the region.

Saturday, May 24, 2014    <<Home

National Intelligence Council, North Africa: The Impact of Climate Change to 2030

Personal Notes : A very thorough research paper by the National Intelligence Council based in Washington D.C. 

It makes clear the case for sustainable water desalination for the countries of the region in the coming future. Indeed the timeframe seems to be narrowing in terms of opportunity and major investments will have to be made in the next 10 years in order to alleviate the effects of climate change. 

Most importantly we have to ramp up renewable energy capacity as fast as we can to make water desalination using solar energy viable. 

Although high hopes have been attached to future energy exports to Europe, it seems that the more urgent issue for the North African countries and especially Morocco and Tunisia that do not dispose of sizable hydrocarbon reserves, but also for Algeria, is to make solar based desalination viable and cost competitive. The challenge for Morocco, being an agrarian economy  will be to be able to desalinate water at costs that make it available for agricultural use.

The full report can be found here  
 Executive Summary

Model projections available for North Africa indicate a clear increase in temperature over the next 20 years that is expected to continue throughout the 21st century, probably at a rate higher than the estimated global average. Model simulations also suggest a drying trend in the region, particularly along the Mediterranean coast, driven by large decreases expected in summertime precipitation. 

Because coastal areas historically receive by far the largest amount of rainfall in North Africa, future decreases will likely have a significant and noticeable impact. Precipitation trends in the interior semiarid and arid regions of North Africa are more difficult to predict due to the very small amount of natural precipitation that characterizes these areas. Climate change will induce some variations in precipitation patterns, but the trend is not clear, as some models predict slight increases and others predict slight decreases in annual precipitation amounts.

The Regional Climate Change Index (RCCI) identifies the Mediterranean as a very responsive region to climate change (“Hot-Spot”). Given the ecological and socioeconomic characteristicsof the southern Mediterranean countries, the impact of climate change may be more marked than in other regions of the world. Still, most of the predicted impacts in the region are already occurring regardless of climate change (e.g., water stress and desertification). Climate change is expected to exacerbate these trends.

The RCCI is calculated for 26 land regions from projections of 20 global climate models using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emission scenarios. as used by the IPCC, refers to a per capita water availability of below 1,000 cubic meters per person per year; sometimes IPCC referenced sources also use a ratio of withdrawals to long-term average runoff of 0.4. The IPCC formally defines a country as water stressed when withdrawals exceed 20% of renewable water supply.

Based on global climate projections and given inherent uncertainties, the most significant impacts of climate change in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt) will likely include the following:

• Water Resources Stress.

All countries of North Africa are presently experiencing water stress. Model simulations show a general decrease in rainfall across North Africa, with median decreases in average annual precipitation of 12 percent and 6 percent projected for the Mediterranean and Saharan regions, respectively. This general drying trend for North Africa is punctuated by seasonal variations in projected precipitation that differ by region. Predicted decreases in average annual rainfall, accompanied by projected increases in the population of the region, may impede access to water for millions of inhabitants. In addition, with decreasing water levels, other ecological effects such as salinity in coastal areas and deterioration of water quality may increase.

• Agriculture.

Model results are inconsistent regarding future changes in crop yields and agricultural growing seasons in North Africa, and we do not know whether variations in temperature, precipitation, or atmospheric CO2 will be the dominant factor. One modelingstudy suggests that future increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations will increase maize yields in Morocco, while other modeling studies suggest that future increases in air temperature will have a negative effect on growing seasons and crop yields in Egypt. Relatively heat-tolerant species, such as maize, are expected to suffer the smallest losses in yield and growing area, while heat-intolerant crops, such as wheat, are expected to suffer the largest losses. In addition, intensive irrigation practices in the region may result in further Water Stress salinity, which may lead to desertification. Adaptation strategies, including modifications in sowing dates to match climate changes and development of heat-tolerant crop varieties, will likely mitigate some of the expected negative effects on North African agriculture. Development of regional and local climate models in the coming years that include projections of Mediterranean Sea level rise and decreases in the Nile River flow are expected to provide more accurate estimates of future changes in North African agricultural regions.

• Migration.

In recent years, North Africa has experienced vast migration pressures from both migrants that settle in the region from the south or that use North African countries as a transit area to reach Europe. Thus far, experts have not cited climate change as a driving force for migration in the region; nevertheless, a warmer climate and changing precipitation patterns, which will likely reduce viable cropland and reduce access to water, will increase urbanization and make accommodating the needs of a growing population more difficult.

Besides food and water necessities, climate change-related migration may also imply greater demands on infrastructure along the coasts as well as ethnic, racial, or religious clashes.

• Natural Disasters.

Because of the lack of historical data from tide gauges in the region, the wide range of future estimates in sea level, and the paucity of regional climate model projections for the Mediterranean Sea, a definitive estimate of sea level rise along the coastline of North Africa in the next 20 years is not possible. However, the intensity and frequency of floods along the Mediterranean coast are expected to increase by the middle of the 21st century. Compared to other regions, the impacts of sea level rise in North Africa areexpected to be stronger in terms of social, economic, and ecological factors. Highly populated and agriculturally important coastal cities are the most vulnerable.

In addition, two more potentially serious impacts are the following:

• Tourism.

Tourism is an important source of income for most countries of North Africa. Of concern, however, are the large quantities of water this sector demands and the little attention that governments of this region have given to water provision in the past. Thus, increased water scarcity, sea level rise, and increasing temperatures will likely have a negative impact on this sector and consequently the economy of most North African countries.

• Energy.

The economies of Algeria, Libya and (to a lesser extent) Egypt are dependent on the hydrocarbon industry. Because of the revenues they receive from exporting fossil fuels—mostly to Europe—they are to some degree more resilient to the deleterious impacts of climate change. Any shift in the interest of other regions in importing natural gas and oil from North Africa, conversely, may make these North African countries considerably more vulnerable. However, there is no indication now that Europe and other importing regions will stop importing from North Africa in the next few decades.

Based on a comprehensive global comparative study of resilience to climate change (including adaptive capacity) using the Vulnerability-Resilience Indicators Model, a wide range of adaptive capacity is represented in this group of countries from Libya (ranking 34 th in a 160-country study) to Morocco (ranking 136 th in the same study). Under a high-growth scenario of the future, all countries gain adaptive capacity, especially Libya. However, under a delayed-growth scenario, all of these North African countries lose adaptive capacity. 

The full report can be found here

Genesis Morocco, Renewable Energies in Morocco and MENA :