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Preparations for the end of oil production

2023-11-29 08:51:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

Preparations for the end of oil production

Countries in the Persian Gulf region are slowly transitioning to renewable energy sources. But they still want to export their oil.

Until now, reserves of fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, were considered a guarantee of wealth for the states in the Persian Gulf. But the Gulf states are now starting to move away from fossil fuels. Currently, renewable energy plants are being built in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which are among the largest in the world.

Qatar, for example, built a solar system ahead of the 2022 World Cup that covers ten percent of the country's energy needs. A city in the desert is being built in Saudi Arabia that will be powered exclusively by renewable energy. Neo, as it is called, is said to have its own solar system for green hydrogen. Even the United Arab Emirates, which will host the UN climate conference this year, is building what is said to be the world's largest solar power plant.

These projects aim to help achieve our climate goals. Saudi Arabia wants to produce 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, while the United Arab Emirates wants to reach 44 percent of renewable energy by 2050. However, currently the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia is among the top 15 CO2 emitters, along with the other Gulf states - Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. At the top of the list is Qatar, which emits 35.59 tons of CO2 per person. For comparison: in Germany 8.09 tons are emitted per person.

Therefore, serious measures are needed to improve the climate balance. In fact, the region is making great strides towards , says Mohammad Al-Saidi, professor at the Center for Sustainable Development at Qatar University, in an interview with DW.

Renewable energy and oil export

But it will not switch to renewable energy sources just because of concern for the environment. According to Al-Saidi, one of the main motivations for the change is to free up fossil fuel reserves for export, thereby maximizing profits.

In 2020, Saudi Arabia was the world's fourth-largest consumer of oil and sixth-largest consumer of natural gas, leaving little to sell abroad.

It is expected that oil demand will continue to grow until 2040 – despite all the consequences of the climate crisis with rising temperatures and extreme weather events. But when demand finally subsides, every drop of oil left in the country will be a lost opportunity for profit for producing countries.

Another important reason for switching to renewable energy sources is to attract international investment and maintain a good image in the international community, explains Al-Saidi: "Because good image means money."

The transition to an economy based on renewable energy would significantly increase the attractiveness of the Gulf countries for foreign investment, confirms John Truby, a law professor who studies the links between sustainability and technology at the University of Newcastle in the United Kingdom.

The climate crisis affects many Gulf countries

Continued oil exports will fill the coffers of the Gulf states, but they may also threaten their existence. As most countries continue to use fossil fuels, global temperatures will continue to rise. The Gulf region will be disproportionately affected.

A global increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 could cause an increase of four degrees for the Gulf states. Heatwaves of over 50 degrees Celsius have already hit the region, while average temperatures are much higher than those of the rest of the world.

Some climate change scenarios predict that average maximum summer temperatures in much of the Persian Gulf will exceed levels at which human survival is possible. Global warming will also exacerbate desert storms in the region, while lowlands may be affected by rising sea levels. "A paradoxical situation: on the one hand you depend on oil revenues, but at the same time your countries are at great risk of climate change", sums up Trubi.

The politics of the Gulf countries

In an effort to continue exporting fossil fuels while limiting the risks of climate change, the region is turning to a carbon dioxide (CO2) storage factor, known as CCS. Through this process, CO2 emissions are buried underground or used for other products. It has long been seen that the production of natfa can allow the burning of fossil fuels without increasing climate change.

However, decades of research have not yet provided any solution that can be used quickly and sufficiently. Climate activists see CCS as a dangerous distraction from real action to prevent climate change.

The European Union and other countries have so far spoken out against this approach. They believe that the focus of climate action should be on phasing out fossil fuels, not on technologies to reduce CO2 emissions.

However, when it comes to the Persian Gulf region, all chemical activities are currently based on the model of further exploitation of fossil fuel reserves to finance the transition to a carbon-free future. For environmentalists and human rights activists, this is pure irony. Agnes Kalamar, Secretary General of Amnesty International, called on countries like Saudi Arabia to leave their oil reserves in place.

"It's time for Saudi Arabia to act in the interest of humanity and start phasing out the fossil fuel industry, which is essential to avoid further climate damage," Kalamar criticized earlier this year./ DW

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