UAE well-positioned to provide low cost, low carbon energy
Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change said the UAE is well positioned to provide low cost, low carbon energy as global demand returns and is expected to increase in line with economic growth.
Speaking during a virtual session of the Columbia Global Energy Summit, Dr. Al Jaber said that increased demand for cost-efficient, lower-carbon energy positions the UAE at a competitive advantage and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is focusing on low carbon production.
“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.
“So, in a world that needs more energy with fewer emissions, the UAE is stepping up to expand our low carbon crude capacity,” said Dr. Al Jaber.
In a conversation with David Sandalow, Inaugural Fellow, Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia SIPA, he explained that oil and gas will continue to play a major role alongside a diversifying energy mix and that diversifying the country’s energy mix is not only the responsible way forward, but can provide new economic opportunities.
“Using this approach, the UAE has grown its renewable investments from a low base fifteen years ago, to a leading position in the region. And today, thanks to the long-term commitment of our leadership, the UAE has three of the largest and lowest-cost solar projects in the world with significant renewable energy projects in thirty countries globally.
“In order to accelerate our progress on a lower carbon path, we need to leverage every clean energy source available, including wind, solar and other renewable energies. This comprehensive approach means also using nuclear energy,” Dr. Al Jaber said.
Dr Sultan went on to describe how the UAE is a partner of choice across the entire traditional and alternative energy landscape, including hydrogen, which shows great promise as a zero-carbon fuel that could be produced at scale as part of the existing hydrocarbon value chain, Dr. Al Jaber said. He added that the UAE is well-positioned to leverage its existing gas infrastructure to develop blue and green hydrogen.
“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. This is just one area that demonstrates how the hydrocarbon industry can and should be at the center of the conversation on climate change and very much part of the solution.”
During the session, Dr. Al Jaber touched on the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4Climate) announced by the UAE and the United States with the support of seven other countries last month and shared insights on why the UAE is taking the lead on the initiative which is aimed at increasing research and development (R&D) investment and accelerating innovation into sustainable agricultural practices.
“The UAE has always taken a holistic view when it comes to climate solutions and Agriculture is sometimes overlooked as a significant source of emissions. Nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture; that’s basically the same GHG contribution as electricity generation. This is one of the reasons why the UAE joined with the US and a growing coalition of countries to launch AIM4Climate.
“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. We believe that by doubling down on investment in 4IR 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 agri-tech sector,” Dr. Al Jaber said.
Concluding the session, Dr. Al Jaber outlined his expectations for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place in Glasgow in November. He expressed cautious optimism and said he believes the world understands that progressive climate action is an opportunity for economic growth, particularly coming off the back of post-Covid recovery.
“What I find encouraging is that it is not only governments that get this, but the broader business community, across every industrial sector is also on board. You have basically got everyone on the same page. 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.