Bahrain Takes Action Against Rising Seas Threatening Its Coastline
As Bahrain battles extreme heat, it is also facing another environmental threat: rising sea levels that could engulf parts of its coast. Bahrain’s oil and environment minister, Mohamed bin Mubarak bin Daina, has revealed that the country will begin building coastal defenses next year to combat the advancing sea levels. These defenses will include widening beaches, constructing taller sea walls, and elevating land.
Bahrain is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels due to its low-lying coastal areas, with most of its population and major facilities located less than five meters above the water. According to official estimates, even a rise of 0.5 to two meters could submerge five to 18 percent of Bahrain’s total area. In the worst-case scenario of a five-meter rise, the majority of the country, including its international airport, would be underwater.
The threat of rising seas is not unique to Bahrain. Islands around the world are also at risk as global warming melts ice sheets and glaciers. Bahraini authorities have already observed sea levels rising between 1.6 millimeters to 3.4 millimeters annually since 1976. However, by 2050, sea levels could rise by at least 0.5 meters, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The consequences of rising seas extend beyond coastal flooding. They also pose a threat to Bahrain’s groundwater reserves, potentially polluting them with salty seawater. To address these challenges, Bahrain has made sea level rise one of its top priorities. The government plans to implement a detailed plan within the next 10 years, which will involve measures such as widening beaches, constructing rock walls in certain areas, and reclaiming land before the shore.
Bahrain is ranked as one of the most climate-vulnerable countries among Arab states in the Gulf by the University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Initiative. The country also faces extreme temperatures, making it one of the hottest regions on Earth. Experts predict that accelerated climate change could render parts of the Gulf uninhabitable by the end of the century.
Bahrain is already experiencing the impact of rising temperatures. This month, the country broke its record for energy consumption twice as temperatures soared above 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 degrees Fahrenheit). To combat climate change, Bahrain aims to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2035 and increase renewable energy to meet 10 percent of its needs over the same period. The country also plans to double its green areas and quadruple the amount of mangroves, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, within the next 12 years.
Despite being a small-scale oil producer, Bahrain is committed to addressing climate change. Minister bin Daina sees no contradiction in his dual role as minister of both oil and environment. In fact, he believes that having one person responsible for both areas demonstrates Bahrain’s seriousness in combating climate change. He emphasizes that he can enforce all environmental regulations over the oil industry and dismisses concerns that hydrocarbon interests could overshadow climate concerns.
In conclusion, Bahrain is taking proactive measures to protect its coastline from rising sea levels. With plans to build coastal defenses and implement a detailed plan within the next decade, Bahrain aims to mitigate the threats posed by sea level rise. Additionally, the country is committed to reducing emissions, increasing renewable energy sources, and preserving its natural environment. By addressing both oil and environmental concerns, Bahrain demonstrates its dedication to combatting climate change and ensuring a sustainable future for its citizens.