Carbon footprint of MENA cities

I recently drew map of MENA cities ranked by their carbon footprint. I used the data processed with my colleagues from the Atelier cartographique de Sciences Po for a chart on cities and their footprint. Even if a few Middle Eastern cities show on this chart (Cairo, Riyad, Kuwait), it’s difficult to get a complete understand of the main challenges regarding the cities from this region.

Les 500 premières villes mondiales par leur empreinte carbone. Source : Atlas des mondes urbains, 2000, ©Presses de Scienes Po. Créateur : Atelier cartographique de Sciences Po.

Most of the time, data on carbon footprint in the region is not visualized at the city level, but rather at the nation level, like these charts and maps by Karim Elgendy on his blog Carboun, one of the useful resources on this issue in the region. For small countries, in the Gulf for instance, it is not a problem. However, when speaking of bigger countries, it is useful to have a finer view.

MENA cities according to their carbon footprint (2015). Data : Global Gridded Model of Carbon Footprint Author: Eric Verdeil, CC by, using Magrit software.

It is important to note that the map only represents cities that are ranked among the biggest 500 cities in the world by their carbon footprint. Some big cities, such as Oran, Tanger, Damascus, Aleppo, Mascate, etc. are not on the map because they don’t feature in this list. I also chose not to show European cities, given the context where those data were presented.

Whatever the limitation of the data, the map displays an interesting message. There is a clear discrepancy between the carbon intensive cities of the Gulf, specifically Saudi Arabi, the Emirates and Qatar, as opposed to North African cities and most other cities in the Mashreq. Is is surprising for the cities of some oil exporting countries, such as Algeria, Iraq and may be Egypt. Iranian cities stand in an intermediary catogory, but quite similar to Turkish cities.

It suggests that, more than the involvement in hydrocarbon exploitation population, it is wealth and the associated standards of life (prominence of individual car use, air conditioning, resource-intensive construction) that factor in the calculation of the carbon footprint. National data linking carbon footprint and wealth inequalities, at the intenational and internal level, demonstrate it clearly in a recent study by the World Inequality Lab (Chancel 2021).

Pour aller plus loin, je me permet de renvoyer à de précédentes analyses sur le même sujet avec des approches plus orientées sur les questions de gouvernance et de modèles:

Verdeil Éric, 2018, « Energy Transition and Urban Governance in the Arab World » dans Eckart Woertz (ed.), “Wise Cities” in the Mediterranean? Challenges of Urban Sustainability, Barcelona, CIDOB, p. 93‑102.

Verdeil Eric, 2019, « Arab Sustainable Urbanism: Worlding Strategies, Local Struggles », Middle East – Topics & Arguments, 25 juin 2019, vol. 12, p. 35‑42.

Verdeil Éric, 2019, « Sustainable Urbanization? », World Energy, avril 2019, no 42, p. 32‑35.

Citer ce billet
Eric Verdeil (2022, 4 février). Carbon footprint of MENA cities. Rumor. Consulté le 18 juin 2024, à l’adresse

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