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Oman to attend COP26 with Cyclone Shaheen in backdrop
DECARBONISATION GOALS: New strategy to adapt climate-resilience in development planning and protection of vulnerable sectors

@conradprabhu -

With the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, just days away from being held in the Scottish city of Glasgow in the UK, the Sultanate of Oman will be going into this landmark forum fresh from Tropical Cyclone Shaheen, which devastated large swathes of the country earlier this month. Shaheen, along with previous iterations of cyclonic storms such as Mekunu, Phet and Gonu, are widely seen as the manifestations of weather patterns gone awry on account of climate change.

“The Sultanate of Oman is one of the most vulnerable countries in West Asia to the adverse impacts of climate change and has a heightened degree of awareness and concern about global warming and its adverse impacts. Ratification of the Paris Agreement on April 24, 2019, was a conclusive step forward in Oman's commitment to join the international efforts to combat climate change,” said the Directorate General of Meteorology at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The CAA made the observation in a recent update to the Sultanate’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) for the Paris Agreement. The NDCs commit Oman to slowing the growth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – the principal culprit behind global warming – and to reduce them by 7 per cent in 2030 compared to the Business-As-Usual (BAU) scenario.

“4 per cent of the GHG reduction commitment will be based on national efforts, and the remaining 3 per cent would necessitate grants and other forms of concessional financing and assistance with capacity building and institutional strengthening, and access to appropriate technologies,” the update on NDCs stated.

COP26, which takes place during October 31 to November 12, 2021, seeks to bring the global community together to speed up action towards goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

Adopted in 2015 with a total of 197 parties backing it to date, the Paris agreement centres on two targets:

(i) limiting the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C, and

(ii) Adapting to the unavoidable impacts of climate change while making finance flows consistent with climate-resilient development.

In response to the rising frequency and increasing ferocity of tropical storms striking the Sultanate, Oman’s authorities have sought to strategically align the country’s climate mitigation targets with the formulation of policies to make future infrastructure and economic development resilient to climate change impacts.

To this end, a new National Adaptation Plan (NAP) is being drawn up with the goal of integrating climate adaption into developmental planning in the Sultanate.

Enshrined in the Plan are goals that will contribute to low carbon emissions, and prioritisation of climate-resilient development projects, among other objectives.

Various stakeholder institutions within government are also responsible for pinpointing sectors that are vulnerable to climate change with a view to making them climate-resilient.

Notable sectors include water resources, marine biodiversity, and fisheries; agriculture; urban areas, tourism and infrastructure; and public health, according to the Civil Aviation Authority’s update.

Efforts are also ongoing to safeguard vulnerable cities and population centres in the Sultanate from flash flooding and other damage unleashed by tropical cyclones. Storm drainage network infrastructure is being continuously upgraded while new flood protection dams are being constructed to this end.

More importantly, the new National Spatial Strategy 2020-2040 is being harnessed to “anticipate the impact of climate change on urban areas and infrastructures and incorporate adaptation and mitigation measures into new developments where necessary”, the CAA report added.

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