Climate change report is green light for Middle East energy transition

12 August 2021
The latest assessment on climate change by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) increases the urgency for Middle East governments to accelerate net-zero plans

The latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides a damning assessment of how human activity has caused the climate to warm at a faster rate than at any time over the past 2,000 years.

READ: IPCC report confirms human activities drive climate change

It has major implications for Middle East oil producers.

The IPCC report increases the urgency for governments to accelerate net-zero plans and for developed countries to extend financing to developing countries’ climate change mitigation measures. Nowhere more than in the Middle East.

The world has embarked on a long-term energy transition that strikes at the heart of the fossil fuel-based industries.

As well as being the world’s largest producers of oil and gas, and having economies that are completely dependent on oil, gas and petrochemicals exports, the Gulf states are the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in per capita terms.

The findings of the IPCC report will fuel the region’s massive investments in energy diversification, decarbonisation and energy transition.

These investments have seen authorities in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Saudi Arabia develop the world’s biggest and most efficient solar farms, and exploring the development of clean technologies such as green hydrogen along with Oman and Egypt. 

Countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar also want to remain at the heart of the global energy story, and are investing heavily at home and abroad in clean energy in order to be leading players in the global energy transition. 

The UAE has been at the forefront of the region’s energy transition, with both Abu Dhabi and Dubai setting aggressive targets for the decarbonisation and diversification of their energy sectors.

Dubai, for instance, exceeded its 2021 carbon abatement target two years ago.

Commenting on the IPCC report, Abu Dhabi Future Energy (Masdar) CEO Mohamed Jameel al-Ramahi said accelerating the energy transition must be a priority for all nations “if we are to have any chance of meeting the Paris Agreement’s targets to limit temperature rises this century”.

It will be interesting to see how other Mena countries respond to the report, given the tangible impacts of global warming and the planned responses to it, which range from a reduction in fossil fuel demand and cutting out methane to increased cooling requirements.

As things stand, ignoring the report’s findings could imperil future generations as well as the region’s long-term economic growth plans.

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