Global climate talks are coming to the most well liked and driest a part of the planet.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will host the subsequent United Nations climate change conference where decision-makers from world wide will come together to agree on actions required to limit rising temperatures.
Last 12 months, governments made a pact during COP26 – the climate summit that took place in the UK’s city of Glasgow, to stop the planet from heating greater than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by mid-century, a threshold that if surpassed could have catastrophic results for humans and ecosystems.
At the identical time, Egypt was chosen to host COP27 this November in Sharm El-Sheikh, a resort town positioned between the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea. Incidentally, COP28 may even occur in MENA within the United Arab Emirates the next 12 months.
Because the UN meetings began back in 1995, the region has accommodated the international climate change conferences often known as COPs only a couple of times – twice in Marrakesh, Morocco, and once in Doha, Qatar, almost a decade ago.
Climate meetings are where leaders present national targets and proposals for cutting back emissions of greenhouse gases. The most important objective is to get governments to stop the discharge of huge quantities of emissions into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels.
The issue, nonetheless, is that about 80 percent of the world’s power comes from coal, oil and gas, and most nations are heavily reliant on these for his or her energy needs. Current energy mixes must be replaced with greener alternatives, but in practice, fossil fuels are still very much running the show.
The International Energy Agency recorded the best yearly level of worldwide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for the energy sector in 2021.
Secure a pathway
Transforming energy systems is dear and is a difficult undertaking worldwide. For oil and gas producers in MENA, this task is even harder on condition that 95 percent of their electricity is generated from fossil fuels.
Climate change has also been drying and warming the region faster than anywhere else on Earth, making it more vulnerable to extreme weather events resembling drought.
A pathway for the region that’s secure and fair have to be created and COP27 can serve because the platform to do this, analysts have said.
“Climate change negotiations are likely to focus mainly on energy and decarbonisation while other vital issues resembling justice and water scarcity aren’t getting the eye they deserve,” Kaveh Madani of United Nations University and head of Iran’s delegation to COP23 told Al Jazeera.
“Prescribing equivalent solution measures is flawed because not all countries have access to equal resources and opportunities,” Madani added.
MENA watchers have used the negotiations in Egypt to bring the region into focus, particularly regarding the challenges it faces in transitioning to wash energy.
Probably the most recent assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change left little question that quick and deep emission cuts can have to happen across all economies, including in MENA, to stop the worst effects of worldwide warming from happening.
To try this, predominantly fossil fuel energy mixes within the region will need to begin including more alternative sources. Renewables resembling solar and wind have been considered possible alternatives.
Hydropower, nonetheless, would be the least desirable because electricity is generated by reservoirs of water barricaded by large dams and excessive dam constructing for energy and agricultural purposes within the region has already contributed to major rivers in Iran, Syria, Iraq and Egypt drying up.
“Water, energy, and environment are three interconnected aspects. They’re the pillars that outline the standard of life in any country … If one goes flawed the others follow,” said Essam Heggy, a scientist on the University of Southern California.
So, whether it’s on the climate summit in Egypt or the UAE, “any discussion on clean energy in MENA can have to handle the difficulty of water management within the region,” added Heggy.
A good transition
Most countries within the Middle East and North Africa have economies that depend solely on revenue derived from the production and export of oil and gas.
Energy transitioning means complying with international climate agreements, a scenario by which, by the 12 months 2050, all greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere are offset.
For this to occur, MENA countries might want to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Nonetheless, not all governments can commit to this timeframe concurrently.
With COP27 on the horizon, it is probably going that more nations, including Egypt, shall be pressured into submitting decarbonisation plans faster. Some wealthy countries resembling Saudi Arabia and the UAE have already done so.
But green financing opportunities aren’t equal across the region. Iran, for instance, considered one of the best carbon emitters on this planet, is prohibited from receiving foreign investment to develop its renewable energy sector due to US sanctions.
War-ravaged nations, resembling Iraq and Syria, within the Middle East may even have trouble allocating the cash needed for reconstructing cities and industries with clean energy.
Furthermore, decision-makers in MENA have said developed economies, resembling the USA, the EU, and China – essentially the most responsible historically for greenhouse gas pollution, should help pay for the technology they need for decarbonisation.
In response to a survey published by management consultancy McKinsey, lower-income fossil fuel-based nations can have to spend significantly more on transitioning given their high exposure to climate change and its damages.
Of their defence and the interest of fairness, mitigation can’t be expected to occur the identical way across the MENA region.
As Ali Ahmad, energy and climate change specialist on the World Bank told Al Jazeera, “obstacles facing the region are very country specific, each has its own political economy considerations that shapes the pace and depth of its energy transition pathway.”
Bridging the gap
Global oil and gas markets have modified significantly since COP26 concluded in Glasgow, Scotland, last November with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the plethora of sanctions that followed on Moscow.
To maintain the safety and costs of its energy sector in check, the EU can have to seek out a latest partner to supply it with the gas it currently gets from Russia. Specfically, countries within the Middle East and North Africa.
Iran, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Egypt have among the world’s largest gas reserves, and possess the expertise in using it for each domestic energy intake, in addition to for exports.
“It’s really likely that over the subsequent few years Europe will start replacing its gas imports from Russia, and so mainly the gas that’s produced in MENA will discover a renewed market at possibly a better price,” Ahmad said.
Egypt and Qatar are already reaping the rewards having signed major deals with the Europeans for the event of the liquefied type of natural gas (LNG), which could be easily delivered by tankers quite than pipelines.
Although natural gas is notoriously bad for the atmosphere and releases huge amounts of methane – the second-leading contributor to human-induced climate change – it’s being championed as a bridging agent that can assist pave the best way for MENA’s transition to wash energy.
Natural gas emits about 45 percent less CO2 than oil and coal and has been recognised because the cleanest type of fossil fuel by the International Energy Agency.
Solar, wind, and green hydrogen are higher options to constitute MENA’s future energy mixes, but “we’d like to envision and evaluate which considered one of these fuels has a well-established supply chain and existing infrastructure to fill the gap in energy transition for now, and the reply is natural gas,” Farid Safari, visiting research fellow at Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, told Al Jazeera.
Ultimately for the Middle East and North Africa, “the energy mix will differ by country and really is determined by the region and the range of circumstances – including renewable resources, access to capital, and available alternatives,” Ali al-Saffar, Middle East and North Africa programme manager on the International Energy Agency, told Al Jazeera.