The President of the UAE, a country in the Middle East, discussing climate change at COP27

As the United Nations COP27 Climate Change Conference closed Sunday, Egypt, this year’s host, hailed the agreements brokered there as a success. But there continues to be a gap between the climate-change commitments most countries in the Middle East and North Africa have formally expressed and their actual behavior.

COP27 climate summit

The U.N. COP27 Climate Change Conference kicked off in Egypt this week, capping off a year of contrasts when it comes to climate action. On one hand, several states dramatically increased their climate ambitions. On the other, a series of extreme weather events reinforced the sense of urgency over the climate crisis.

A group of Iranians listen to then-President Hassan Rouhani during a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Tehran, Iran, Feb. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

The struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia has insinuated itself into nearly every regional issue, fracturing international alliances and sustaining wars across the region, while raising fears of a direct conflict between the two powers. Meanwhile, the region is rife with ongoing conflicts, and the long-simmering dispute between Israel and Palestine continues to flare up periodically.