KUWAIT: Kuwaiti activists said on Monday that candidates running for positions in the upcoming national elections, scheduled to be held next Thursday, must put environmental causes on the forefront of their respective campaigns, to achieve sustainable development for the country.

Several sources stressed on the importance of protecting the environment saying that the issue was not to be ignored and had been put in the back burner for way too long. Wajdan Al-Oqab, Chairperson of the Kuwait Environment Protection Society (KEPS), called for protecting the environment and promoting alternative energy resources saying that these issues affected Kuwait and the whole world.

"The increase in temperatures and the climate change cannot simply be brushed under the carpet as these are real threats that require real solutions," she said. Al-Oqab also called on candidates to recognize the importance of protecting natural resources and also asked all parties to respect international environmental protection accords.

"Previously, the parliament had approved laws pertaining to protecting the environmental rights of individuals," she said, adding that, "environmental protection law 24/2015 and law 99/2015 both enshrined the rights of citizens for clean air quality, water, and land." "Controlling pollution and protecting the environment are vital parts of sustainable development and the New Kuwait Vision 2030."

Shareef Al-Khayat, Head of the Climate Change department at the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), said that the issue of climate change was a reality and has already resulted in rising sea levels due to the melting of ice both in the Arctic and Antarctica. He said that Kuwait would not be exempted from this global issue, a reason why legislators need to focus on laws to prevent an environmental catastrophe and added that the rise in temperature was a great danger facing the country.

Al-Khayat also revealed that the rise in temperature also meant an increase in electricity and water usage and this resulted in 65 to 70 percent of power consumption, especially during the summer. Carbon emission and energy production activities were the main culprits of climate change, he said, noting that Kuwait has the capability to push forward for alternative energy resources to decrease pollution and protect the environment. Meanwhile, meteorologist and former head of the Kuwaiti meteorology center, Mohammad Karam, urged legislators to put the issue of the environment on the top of their agenda, saying that such topics affected citizens and residents alike.

The spike in temperature, for example, would lead to more energy consumption and pollution, he added, saying that solving the problem was a requirement and not an afterthought. "Candidates must set their sight on protecting the environment to ensure a sustainable future for Kuwait and its people," he said, noting that "increasing greenery and using alternative means of producing energy were vital tools to combat pollution." - KUNA