Net zero carbon emission: Where does the GCC stand?
With the formal announcement from the United Nations that the UAE would host the COP28 international climate conference in 2023, there is a greater focus on the Middle East to show leadership and initiative in addressing challenges of climate change.
The Middle East investment community is buzzing with enthusiasm as a result of the ESG movement. Not only are Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors increasingly being included into investments, but they have also emerged as the most popular method to sustainable investing.
As a major supplier of fossil fuels to the rest of the world, the region has a significant stake in finding ways to reduce emissions while still providing the world with the energy it requires.
What is net-zero?
Net zero emissions can be achieved by balancing carbon dioxide emissions with removal, or by eliminating emissions entirely. Net-zero emissions are also referred to as carbon neutrality or becoming climate neutral. This specific climate goal is key to reducing global warming under the 2015 Paris Agreement. The agreement calls for countries to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels while also achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
For the oil & gas dominated GCC countries, this means translating net-zero emissions ambitions into tangible action.
So where does the GCC stand?
UAE was the first country in the Middle East to establish a 'net zero by 2050 strategic strategy,' promising to cut carbon emissions by 23.5 percent (equal to 70 million tonnes) by 2030. The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy announced new clean energy generation projects focusing on solar and nuclear sources to help meet these goals, and the Dubai Future Council of Energy released a detailed path to establish a carbon-free economy. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has also pledged US$400 million to a new energy transition program aimed at financing renewable energy projects in developing countries that would otherwise be unable to raise funds.
Saudi Arabia aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2060. The country has pledged US$1 billion in climate change initiatives as part of the Saudi Green Initiative program, which seeks to establish a regional carbon capture and storage center, an early storm warning center, and cloud seeding programs as part of its efforts to create a greener future.
Qatar, which has the highest carbon intensity per capita in the world, has created a national climate change action plan with the goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030 and liquefied natural gas facility carbon intensity by 25% by the same year.
Bahrain is not far behind, having committed to net zero emissions by 2060 and pledging to reduce emissions by 30% by 2035, including investments in renewable energy, carbon removal solutions, and afforestation.
Oman has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and zero routine flaring by 2030, as well as a 7% reduction in emissions by that year. Investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts are among the country's interim goals, with the country aiming to generate 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2027.
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