The Quiet Emergency

Sustaining Kuwait in Unsustainable Times

A research report by Deen Shariff Sharp, Abrar Alshammari, and Kanwal Hameed


Climate change is one of the most pressing global emergencies of our times. Kuwait in recent years has directly experienced the impact of human-induced climate change, recording record breaking temperatures of 53.9 degrees Celsius, as well as deadly floods and increasingly severe dust storms. The Government of Kuwait has recognized that the global transition away from fossil fuels and efforts to limit global warming will have profound implications for the country’s economy, environment, and social life. Kuwait is a leading emitter of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, and the export of hydrocarbons is central to its economy. The goal of this research is to provide a situated account of climate change as it is experienced and understood in Kuwait. This paper examines how the inhabitants of Kuwait (both citizens and non-citizens) understand and experience climate change, to assist in policy and scholarly efforts that are working toward low carbon social life in Kuwait and beyond. It draws on qualitative data drawn from over 35 semi-structured interviews in English and Arabic conducted by the research team, one high-level political and policy focus group, two focus groups with 19 youth in Kuwait, an analysis of the December 2020 Kuwait parliamentary elections, and a review of both social and traditional media. This report contributes to government efforts to build public and policy-maker awareness on climate change and to better integrate climate change considerations into national planning and policy dialogues.