Kuswait: Global warming is smashing temperature records all over the world, but Kuwait - one of the hottest countries on the planet - is fast becoming un-liveable. In 2016, thermometers hit 54 degree Celsius, the highest reading on Earth in the last 76 years. Last year, for the first time, they breached 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in June, weeks ahead of usual peak weather.
Parts of Kuwait could get as much as 4.5 degree Celsius hotter from 2071 to 2100 compared with the historical average, according to the Environment Public Authority, making large areas of the country uninhabitable.
For wildlife, it almost is. Dead birds appear on rooftops in the brutal summer months, unable to find shade or water. Vets are inundated with stray cats, brought in by people who’ve found them near death from heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Even wild foxes are abandoning a desert that no longer blooms after the rains, for what small patches of green remain in the city, where they’re treated as pests. “This is why we are seeing less and less wildlife in Kuwait, it’s because most of them aren’t making it through the seasons,” said Tamara Qabazard, a Kuwaiti zoo and wildlife veterinarian.
Unlike countries from Bangladesh to Brazil that are struggling to balance environmental challenges with teeming populations and widespread poverty, Kuwait is Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) number 4 oil-exporter.
Home to the world’s third-largest sovereign wealth fund and just over 4.5 million people, it’s not a lack of resources that stands in the way of cutting greenhouse gases and adapting to a warmer planet, but rather political inaction. Even Kuwait’s neighbours, also dependent on crude exports, have pledged to take stronger climate action. Saudi Arabia last year said that it would target net-zero emissions by 2060. The United Arab Emirates has set a goal of 2050.
Though they remain among the biggest producers of fossil fuels, both say they are working to diversify their economies and investing in renewables and cleaner energy.