The US and the United Arab Emirates pledged in early April to assist finance decarbonisation throughout the Center East and North Africa by means of investments in clear applied sciences – an indication of renewed local weather diplomacy, whose success will hinge on the area’s fossil-fuel dependent economies placing phrases into motion.
The announcement, within the type of a joint statement, follows US Local weather Envoy John Kerry’s go to to Abu Dhabi on 4 April, the place he participated in a regional local weather dialogue convened by the UAE, which additionally introduced collectively 9 different Mid-East nations.
Officers mentioned methods to step up the deployment of renewable vitality and hydrogen manufacturing within the area, scale back emissions from hydrocarbon fuels and spur investments in revolutionary options, corresponding to capturing and storing carbon.
In a separate assertion, signed by all collaborating international locations, they “dedicated to speed up local weather motion,” and emphasised the hyperlink between investments in low-carbon options and job creation.
In an interview with The Nationwide, Kerry highlighted “the significance of an oil and gas-producing nation [the UAE] bringing collectively a bunch of countries that many individuals may suppose have been improbably dedicated to coping with [the] local weather disaster.”
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter and the de facto chief of the OPEC group, was not on the desk.
Kerry’s UAE go to, adopted by a visit to India the place local weather was additionally high of the agenda, is a part of the US’ efforts to reassert itself on the worldwide local weather stage and search deeper worldwide emission-cutting commitments simply weeks forward of the Leaders’ Summit on Local weather on April 22. This can be a Biden-led occasion bringing collectively 40 world leaders geared toward boosting local weather motion forward of COP 26 in November.
The highway gained’t be straightforward – particularly throughout MENA, the place oil and gasoline are main vitality provide sources. The rigorously worded joint assertion from the US and UAE hints at that.
The 2 international locations acknowledged they are going to “intend to take steps to decarbonise our economies in step with our nationwide circumstances and financial growth plans” — and people circumstances may very well be tough.
Abu Dhabi is dwelling to the 1.2-gigawatt Noor solar park, the world’s largest single-site photo voltaic venture with 3.2 million photo voltaic panels masking an space of 8 kilometres. Capitalising on low photo voltaic costs because of the area’s excessive temperatures, the UAE is now additionally working to construct the world’s largest and most cost-effective solar energy plant – the 2-gigawatt Al Dhafra, anticipated to be able to powering 160,000 houses from 2022.
In the beginning of this 12 months, the UAE additionally introduced a flurry of initiatives to develop hydrogen gasoline, a promising zero-carbon gasoline for transport and aviation. Oman additionally introduced through the Abu-Dhabi assembly its plans to spice up their clear vitality plans, particularly photo voltaic and wind, whereas Bahrain and Morocco said last month they wish to collaborate on renewable vitality.
“Our area has nice and distinct capabilities that permit it to contribute to dealing with the frequent world problem of local weather change,” stated Sultan Al Jaber, UAE local weather change envoy and Kerry’s Emirati equal, according to Arab News.
Nevertheless, the UAE can also be the seventh largest petroleum producer on the earth, with fossil gasoline exports accounting for 25 p.c of all export income in 2019, based on the US Energy Information Administration. The nation additionally plans to extend oil and gasoline manufacturing over the following years. Iraq and Kuwait are additionally within the high 10 of the world’s largest oil-producing and exporting nations.
A number of of the opposite international locations that participated within the local weather dialogue share comparable profiles relating to fossil fuels – but additionally relating to their promising renewable vitality potential.
Selecting how deeply to faucet into that inexperienced potential could come down with how society will appear like post-pandemic.
Whereas the worldwide economic system and oil markets are recovering from final 12 months’s historic collapse, “there could also be no return to ‘regular’ for the oil market within the post-Covid period,” the Worldwide Power Company wrote in its March fuel report.
World efforts to speed up the vitality transition “have created a excessive diploma of uncertainty that’s testing the oil trade” and are “forcing exhausting selections on oil-producing international locations and firms,” it added.
Past joint statements and local weather diplomacy, it’s these exhausting selections that may decide how shortly the Center East and North Africa area will decarbonise their economies. The roundtable is an efficient begin, but it surely’s the motion that comes subsequent that issues.