Climate change has become a reality in Tunisia, which is struggling to cope with the problems of desertification, water scarcity and the degradation of natural resources. Despite its limited carbon footprint, the risks of climate change may be high. The fourth Arab country to have published its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, Tunisia has put climate change on the top of its political and economic agenda. It is also the first country in the region to include in its new Constitution recognition of climate change: “A sound and balanced environment while contributing to the safety of the climate by all available means.”
Tunisia is making serious efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by 13 percent by the year 2030. The share of renewable energy in electricity generation is expected to increase to 14 percent by 2020 and upto 30 percent by 2030. These ambitious indicators are a strong boost to the efforts aimed at holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In addition, the limited national energy resources are an opportunity to develop renewable sources of energy and improve usage efficiency in line with the new job strategy that helps to reduce youth unemployment.
Tunisia has for several years embarked on a real process of reducing the carbon-based economy in a step to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. This requires a package of long-term proactive measures in the area of energy control. However, this process needs further consolidation and enhancement. Nonetheless, many problems threaten the sustainability of this trend. Tunisia lacks funding to change its energy generation infrastructure, as well as a clear lack of environmental awareness, environmental education, information, and proper management, both among the public and decision-makers.
This must be accompanied by the development of communication discourse for local and international environmental organizations to take bolder action in this regard. A simplified and smooth dissemination of information and training the environmental stakeholders are key pillars of the implementation of a long-term strategy. For this purpose, these actions should primarily target state actors, not to mention the general public, civil society, the media, academics, researchers, and others, while establishing complete databases on research and studies carried out in or around Tunisia on the issue of climate change.
In this context, special attention should be given to the employment of natural solutions that are easy to implement, such as planting trees in desert areas and protecting soil from erosion, especially since Tunisia does not have the technology to apply high-cost geological engineering with unsecured results.
The Paris Agreement, with its various financial and technical opportunities, is expected to be an important incentive for Tunisia to strengthen its efforts to combat climate change, which requires a global roadmap to reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts.