Climate change is becoming a major threat to sustainable development. While development can be simply described by a process that enhances people’s opportunities for s better livelihood, climate change is one of the emerging challenging facing the people of Jordan to achieve development goals.
Identification and analysis of environmental and socio-economic impacts of climate change on Jordan is a vital step in integrating climate change into socio-economic development planning and enhancing associated institutional, individual and systematic capacities. The severity of the impacts of climate change has to be identified based on sound science, and then linked to socio-economic impacts especially on human vulnerability, taking into consideration gender perspectives.
It is essential to transform the conventional ‘wisdom” that climate change is a long-term issue that is mainly related to industrialized countries and not to developing countries like Jordan. Although Jordan is a modest contributor to GHG emissions (20.14 MT of CO2 eq in 2000) it is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change, especially in water and agriculture sectors that are organically linked to socio-economic conditions.
According to Jordan’s Second National Communication (SNC) report to the UNFCCC released in 2009 but based on emission inventory statistics from 2000 Jordan contributed only 20.14 million tones of CO2 equivalent of Greenhouse Gas Emissions to the atmosphere. The main sector contributing to the emissions was energy, including transport (74.0%) followed by wastes (13.5%), industrial processes (7.9%), land use, land use change and forestry (3.7%) and agriculture (0.9%).
A comprehensive analysis of available climate data (1961-2005) published in the second national communication has revealed clear trends in temperature and rainfall. Both maximum and minimum temperatures in selected meteorological stations have shown significant increasing trends between 0.3- 2.8 C. This is parallel to an observed 5-20% decrease in precipitation in the majority of meteorological stations. Only 2 out of 19 stations show an increase of 5-10% in precipitation at the same time.
Climate change projections for Jordan show an increase in temperature of less than 2 C by the year 2050. Warming was found to be stronger during the warm months of the year while less warming is projected to occur in the cold months of the year.
Results of the vulnerability assessment contained in the second national communication report anticipate detrimental impacts especially on water and agriculture. On water resources, the impact of climate change is expected to be significant as a result of decrease in precipitation and projected changes in its spatial and temporal distribution. The analysis of the incremental scenarios had shown that changes in precipitation and temperature will highly affect the amounts of monthly surface run-off in Yarmouk and Zarqa River Basins. It was found that the most vulnerable scenarios to climate change impacts on water resources are those when temperature will be increased by more than 2 C and precipitation will not be increased.
The various target audiences should be able to identify the real threats of climate change to the future of the country’s economy and social stability. Climate change is a multiplayer of existing developmental challenges and for a country like Jordan that is faced with baseline water scarcity, reduction of land productivity and increasing poverty and unemployment challenges, climate change is a grave additional challenge that should be taken into consideration at early stages of development.
The current indicators of the level of awareness to climate change in policy making are not encouraging. The energy, water, agriculture, health, poverty and transport strategies that have been shaping the development agenda in Jordan in the past few years have failed to identify climate change as a threat/challenge. A major paradigm shift is necessary at the policy making level and also at the level of public and civil organization that are mandated with implementing development programmes.
Jordan is currently at a crossroads in term of its development challenges.. The current political and economic reform process has huge socio-economic implication and a new paradigm for sustainable development maybe required soon to respond to the challenges and opportunities exposed by the reform process. It is a perfect timing for climate change impacts to be fully mainstreamed in development planning.