UAE has shown climate leadership through clean energy investments, Opec chief says

Arab world's second-largest economy plans to invest $163 billion in clean and renewable energy sources over three decades

Opec general secretary Haitham Al Ghais called for a 'positive, pragmatic and realistic approach to climate change'. Antonie Robertson / The National
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The UAE, the Arab world's second-largest economy, has shown climate leadership through its net zero by 2050 initiative and investments to boost the renewable energy sector, Opec's secretary general has said.

The country has so far invested $40 billion in green energy sources and has achieved a remarkable progress in a relatively short period of time, Haitham Al Ghais said at the Middle East Petroleum and Gas conference in Dubai.

“It is about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and not the misguided narrative of replacing one energy for another,” Mr Al Ghais said.

“This is why our member countries invest heavily in hydrogen projects, carbon capture utilisation and storage facilities … and there's no better place than here in the UAE that exemplifies this.”

Opec has followed calls by Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the Cop28 President-designate, for a “positive, pragmatic and realistic approach to climate change”, Mr Al Ghais said.

The UAE, Opec's third-largest crude producer, is prioritising the development of clean energy projects to cut emissions as it continues to pursue its net-zero by 2050 target.

The Emirates is building the five-gigawatt Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai and the 1.5-gigawatt Al Dhafra station.

The Noor Abu Dhabi solar plant, one of the world’s largest single-site solar power projects, started commercial operations in 2019, generating about one gigawatt of electricity.

As part of its net-zero ambitions, the UAE plans to invest $163 billion in clean and renewable energy sources over the next three decades.

Abu Dhabi’s clean energy company Masdar is active in more than 40 countries and has invested in or committed investments to projects worth more than $30 billion.

Masdar aims to grow its capacity to at least 100 gigawatts of renewable energy by the end of the decade. It also plans to produce one million tonnes of green hydrogen every year by the end of the decade.

“Opec believes [that] each nation and people are on their own energy transition pathway. [The] capacities or national circumstances of developing countries must be taken into account in all actions,” said Mr Al Ghais.

“We should never forget that climate change and sustainable development are two sides of the same coin.”

The Opec chief also said that underinvestment in the oil and gas industry could lead to increased oil market volatility.

“Investment is urgent to account for an annual decline rate in production … and despite the urgent need for investment, we have heard disheartening calls to divest from hydrocarbons,” Mr Al Ghais said.

The oil producers' group estimates that the world needs $12.1 trillion in investment to meet rising oil demand by 2045.

Demand for oil as a primary fuel is expected to increase to 101 million barrels equivalent a day in 2045 from 88 million barrels equivalent a day in 2021, according to Opec's World Oil Outlook report.

Updated: May 23, 2023, 7:08 AM