The Mediterranean region is considered a major hotspot of climate change, whose adverse effects could be both substantial and numerous. Climate change across sub-Saharan Africa would have a disastrous impact on North Africa, with severe repercussions on Southern Europe, including a further increase in migration flows.
Several steps have been taken by the European Union to promote dialogue and cooperation with the Southern and Eastern shores of the Mediterranean. A fundamental step was the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Affairs Ministers, held in Barcelona on 27 and 28 November 1995, which defined the political, economic and social framework of the relations between the European Union and those of the Mediterranean area. Within the Barcelona process, an important role was given to energy, but not only to renewable production, but also to exploration, production and trade in fossil fuels. Europe is faced with the problem of high energy dependency and security of its energy supply. Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, especially the Barcelona process, was relaunched in 2008 with the creation of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). Moreover, current upheavals across the Middle East and North Africa, pose the question of whether these structures and tools are suitable to tackle a global picture which has rapidly changed.
Over the past 50 years there has been a major change in the distribution of energy consumption within the Mediterranean region: while in the early 1970s North Africa represented only 4% of the total consumption of the Mediterranean region, and the countries belonging to the European Union 81%, during 2016 the relative weight of North Africa rose to 19% while that of the European Union decreased to 59%. There has been an increase not only in overall consumption but also in per capita consumption in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, although the gap compared to the countries of the European Union remains very wide.
In Turkey, strong economic growth since the mid-1990s has had important repercussions on energy consumption and the environment, leading to a significant increase in the consumption of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions. Analysis of the past 50 years has shown that growth rates of CO2 emissions in North Africa are very high, especially in Algeria and Egypt. The same can be said for the Middle Eastern countries, especially Jordan and Lebanon, where both the increase in per capita consumption and the increase in the population are driving the growth of CO2 emissions. Considering absolute values, almost half of such emissions are produced by the countries belonging to the European Union, especially by France, Italy and Spain, which together produce about 42 percent of the total emissions of the Mediterranean area. This fact should not be overlooked: while the growth rates of CO2 emissions in the countries belonging to the European Union have decreased significantly over time, the fact remains that they are responsible for most of the emissions of the entire Mediterranean region. In the meantime, since CO2 emissions are growing in North Africa and the Middle East, the estimate of the Gini index confirms that the gaps are narrowing not only for per capita energy consumption, but also for CO2 emissions.
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