ALEXANDRIA: Arab states, likely to be among those hit hardest by climate change, are not doing enough to promote renewable energy, environmental experts said at a conference here.
Carbon dioxide emissions in the region are increasing at one of the fastest rates in the world, nearly doubling in the period 1990-2003, a UN Arab Human Development Report said.
Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are the world s three biggest emitters of per capita greenhouse gas emissions, conference participants said.
Climate skeptics in a region awash with petroleum doubt the urgency of adopting renewable energy projects.
They keep saying we need more research. Why do you need additional diagnosis when the patient is dying? May Jurdi, a professor of environmental health at the American University in Beirut, told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.
Alexandria, a Mediterranean coastal city of 4 million people, risks inundation.
The Arab Forum for Environment and Development says rising sea waters risk shaving off 6 percent of Egypt s gross domestic product, while UN studies say flooding of 4,500 square kilometers of agricultural land in the Nile Delta would cost $35 billion.
The region is ripe for investment in solar and wind power, with vast deserts and plentiful sunshine.
Saving the planet will become the largest business case ahead of us, said Mouldi Miled, co-founder of Desertec, steering a ?400 billion ($540 billion) plan to power Europe with sunlight from North Africa and the Middle East.
Europe may gain 10-15 years in the fight against climate change by importing 17 percent of its energy needs from the Middle East and North Africa, he added.
Egypt plans to supply 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.
UAE green energy firm Masdar plans to invest $15 billion in renewable energy projects including a carbon-neutral city in Abu Dhabi.
Participants in the two-day conference, which ends on Thursday, said greater regional use of green technology would push investment costs down.
If the technology is deployed, it will eventually become cheaper if it turns into a competitive market, said Ezzat Abdel Hamid, a climate change expert.