Five ways that the Middle East can cut harmful emissions

Energy, industry and transport key to reaching Middle East's climate targets, study suggests

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The Middle East will need to reduce its projected greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by 2030 if the region is to help limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, a report has suggested.

Released by the World Government Summit and Oliver Wyman, a management consultancy, the document calls on the region’s nations to, among other things, invest in carbon capture and storage, bring in efficient energy generation and cut transport emissions.

It was released after several countries in the Gulf, including the UAE, made pledges last year to reach net zero.

'Unique opportunity' for region

“The coming decade presents the region with a unique opportunity to create a bold vision despite the many challenges in reducing emissions in sectors that are difficult structurally to decarbonise, due to their high reliance on energy-intensive industrial and refining activities,” said Matthieu De Clercq, a partner at Oliver Wyman.

The report stated that current projections indicate the Middle East will produce the equivalent of more than 3,120 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2030.

To ensure that global temperature rises do not exceed 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the region should ensure its actual annual emissions by the end of the decade are the equivalent of 1,795 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

This is 42 per cent less than they are projected to be by that time, meaning there is an “emissions gap” equivalent to 1,325 million tonnes.

The report highlights four sectors as central to reducing this: energy generation, which accounts for 39 per cent of emissions; industry, for 21 per cent; “residential and public usage”, for 14 per cent; and transport, for 11 per cent.

Five-point plan to protect the planet

Five actions are needed to achieve most of the reductions, including investments in carbon capture and storage and carbon capture and use, both of which take carbon that is being emitted and store it or use it for other purposes.

There should also be a focus on reducing emissions from the heating and cooling of buildings, a cut in emissions from logistics and transport, and efforts to make industrial processes more energy efficient.

The fifth area is an increase in low-emissions power generation, something that the UAE has already prioritised through its investments in solar power and the Barakah nuclear power plant, where two of the four reactors are already operational.

Also, the UAE has outlined the most ambitious plan in the Gulf for achieving net zero, with the country announcing in October last year — around the time of the Cop26 climate summit in the UK — that it was aiming to reach this milestone by 2050.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain aim to reach net zero by 2060, while Qatar has committed to a 25 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The report, “Sustainable Policies for Climate Action in the Middle East: Reaching Net Zero Targets”, is linked to the World Government Summit held in Dubai in March.

Efforts to reach net zero could, the report said, diversify the region’s economies and help to achieve sustainable growth.

“It’s clear in the Middle East, governments have realised the importance of reducing emissions. Green technologies will provide a new platform for economic growth, one that can achieve both a sustainable economy and will help meet the region’s net-zero targets,” Mr De Clercq said.

If all of its policy recommendations were adopted, greenhouse gas emissions from the region would be reduced by 80 per cent, the report said.

The report also details Oliver Wyman’s “Climate Action Navigator”, a tool that gives decision-makers suggestions for policies and actions to cut emissions.

Updated: June 22, 2022, 5:23 AM