The UAE is well positioned to offer low-cost, low-carbon energy as global demand returns and is expected to increase in line with the economic growth, said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE's Special Envoy for Climate Change and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology.
“The UAE’s primary crude grade, Murban, is one of the least carbon-intensive in the world, with less than half the carbon intensity of the industry average. This creates a dual advantage for us – low-cost and low-carbon,” said Dr Al Jaber, who is also managing director and chief executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
“So, in a world that needs more energy with fewer emissions, the UAE is stepping up to expand our low-carbon crude capacity,” he added.
Dr Al Jaber, who was speaking during an online session of the Columbia Global Energy Summit, said the increased demand for cost-efficient, lower-carbon energy positions the UAE at a competitive advantage.
Diversifying the country’s energy mix is not only the responsible way forward, but can also provide new economic opportunities, Dr Al Jaber said.
“Using this approach, the UAE has grown its renewable investments from a low base 15 years ago to a leading position in the region.”
The UAE currently has three of the largest and lowest-cost solar projects in the world. It also has investments in renewable energy projects in 30 countries worldwide.
The country plans to grow the contribution of renewables to its energy mix to 50 per cent by 2050 and is currently working to update its strategy to include hydrogen.
It is well-positioned to leverage its existing gas infrastructure to develop blue and green hydrogen, Dr Al Jaber said.
“We are working with existing and new partners around the world to identify markets, map out value chains and develop a roadmap to create a hydrogen ecosystem to serve both the UAE and the global marketplace,” he added.
The UAE and the US, in partnership with seven other countries, announced an Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4Climate) last month. Dr Al Jaber said the UAE intends to increase research and development investment and accelerate innovation into sustainable agriculture.
“As a country in an arid part of the world, we are already leveraging new technologies and innovative approaches to enable sustainable farming in desert conditions,” Dr Al Jaber said.
“We believe that by doubling down on investment in 4IR [fourth industrial revolution] technologies, we can help the agricultural sector adapt to the impacts of climate change, reduce emissions and also support growth, opportunity and jobs in the emerging AgTech sector.”
Dr Al Jaber said he expects a positive outcome from November's UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.
The world understands that progressive climate action is an opportunity for economic growth, particularly coming off the back of a Covid-19-induced contraction last year.
“What I find encouraging is that it is not only governments that get this, but the broader business community, across every industrial sector. I expect healthy discussion and debate, but I fundamentally believe that we can accelerate progress on climate change if we avoid one-size-fits-all policies,” he said.
“Ultimately, I think the willingness is there to take a great leap forward at Glasgow and the UAE is more than willing to play its role as a regional leader and global convener in progressive climate action,” Dr Al Jaber said.