COP28: Inside the United Arab Emirates

Oil giant hosts climate change summit
Despite decades of policies aimed at diversifying the country's economy away from oil, the UAE's hydrocarbon sector makes up a quarter of GDP, half of the country's exports and 80% of government revenues. Emilie Rutledge, senior lecturer in economics at The Open University, and Aiora Zabala, lecturer in economics and the environment at the same institution, take a closer look at the bloc.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), the world’s seventh largest oil producer, is hosting the 28th UN climate change summit (COP28) in Dubai until 12 December.

Presiding over the conference will be the chief executive of the UAE state-owned oil company Adnoc, Sultan al-Jaber.

Given fossil fuels account for nearly 90% of the carbon dioxide emissions driving climate change, many have argued that there is a clear conflict of interest in having oil and gas producers at the helm of climate talks. The UAE is alleged to flare more gas than it reports and plans to increase oil production from 3.7 million barrels a day to 5 million by 2027.

Some contend that the oil and gas industry could throw the brake on greenhouse gas emissions by investing its vast revenues into plugging gas flares and injecting captured carbon underground.

But independent assessments maintain that the industry will need to leave at least some of its commercially recoverable reserves permanently underground to limit global warming. No oil-exporting country but Colombia has yet indicated it will do this.

Dubai appears determined to undermine even this small victory. An investigation has released documents showing the UAE hosts planned to advise a Colombian minister that Adnoc “stands ready” to help the South American country develop its oil and gas reserves.

The UK invited ridicule by expanding its North Sea oil fields less than two years after urging the world to raise its climate ambitions as summit host. The UAE seems destined for a similar fate – before its talks have even begun.



Oil consumption and dependence

The UAE’s fast-growing population of 9.9 million (only 1 million are Emirati citizens) has the sixth highest CO2 emissions per head globally.

Citizens are used to driving gas-guzzling cars with fuel priced well below international market rates and using air conditioning for much of the year thanks to utility subsidies.

Visiting tourists and conference-goers have come to expect chilled shopping malls, swimming pools and lush golf greens that depend entirely on energy-hungry desalinated water.

Despite decades of policies aimed at diversifying the country’s economy away from oil, the UAE’s hydrocarbon sector makes up a quarter of GDP, half of the country’s exports and 80% of government revenues. Oil rent helps buy socioeconomic stability, for instance, by providing local people with public-sector sinecures.

This state of affairs is a central tenet of the Arabian Gulf social contract, in which citizens of the six gulf states mostly occupy bureaucratic public sector positions administering an oil-based economy with expatriate labour dominating the non-oil private sector.



Tech-fixes, targets and the future

How does the UAE plan to cut its own emissions?

Adnoc and other international oil companies are banking on select technologies (to sceptics, “green cover” for further climate damage) to preserve their core business model: extracting oil.

Adnoc, along with the wider oil and gas industry, has invested in carbon sequestration and making hydrogen fuel from the byproducts of oil extraction. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), such measures, even if fully implemented, will only have a small impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

The UAE was the first in the Middle East to ratify the Paris climate agreement and to commit to net zero emissions by 2050. With near limitless sunshine and substantial sovereign wealth, the UAE ranks 18th globally per capita and first among Opec countries for solar power capacity.

Solar now meets around 4.5% of the UAE’s electricity demand and projects in the pipeline will see output rise from 23 gigawatts (GW) today to 50GW by 2031.

The Barakah nuclear power plant (the Arab world’s first) started generating electricity in 2020. While only meeting 1% of the country’s electricity demand, when fully operational in 2030, this may rise to 25%.

The oil sector is inherently capital-intensive, not labour-intensive, and so it cannot provide sufficient jobs for Emiratis. The UAE will need to transition to a knowledge-based economy with productive employment in sectors not linked to resource extraction.

In the UAE, sovereign wealth fund Mubadala is tasked with enabling this transition. It has invested in a variety of high-tech sectors, spanning commercial satellites to research and development in renewable energy.

But even if the UAE was to achieve net zero by some measure domestically, continuing to export oil internationally means it will be burned somewhere, and so the climate crisis will continue to grow.



Self-interest

Is disappointment a foregone conclusion in Dubai?

Already one of the hottest places in the world, parts of the Middle East may be too hot to live within the next 50 years according to some predictions.

Rising temperatures risk the UAE’s tourism and conference-hosting sectors, which have grown meteorically since the 1990s (third-degree burns and heatstrokes won’t attract international visitors). A show-stopping announcement to further its global leadership ambitions is not out of the question.

At some point, one of the major oil-exporting countries must announce plans to leave some of its commercially recoverable oil permanently untapped.

COP28 provides an ideal platform.

A participating country may make such a commitment with the caveat that it first needs to build infrastructure powered by renewable energy and overhaul its national oil company’s business model to one that supplies renewable energy, not fossil fuel, globally.

The UAE has the private capital and sovereign wealth required to build a post-oil economy. But will it risk being the first mover? – The Conversation

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Dr Nangolo Mbumba, President of the Republic of Namibia says they will continue to pursue the second struggle of Namibia Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema said one road will be named after the late president in Lusaka and the other road will be named after the founding president of Namibia The late President Hage Geingob’s casket was stationed at the Eternal Flame before he was taken to his final resting place The casket will of the late president was lowered with a 21 gun salute Accoutrements will be handed over to the former first lady of Monica Geingos An official luncheon by invitation is scheduled to take place at 14:00 at the State House The foreign dignataries are currently paying their last tribute to the former first lady, Monica Geingos Heroes Acre will be closed to the public, the National Council will announce once it is reopenedSix Nations: Scotland 30 vs 21 England | Ireland 31 vs 7 Wales Premier League: Arsenal 4 vs 1 Newcastle | Bournemouth 0 vs 1 Manchester City | Brighton 1 vs 1 Everton | Crystal Palace 3 vs 0 Burnley | Aston Villa 4 vs 2 Forest | Manchester United 1 vs 2 Fulham | Chelsea 0 vs 0 Tottenham Hotspur LaLiga: Almería 2 vs 2 Atletico Madrid | Deportivo Alaves 1 vs 1 Mallorca | Barcelona 4 vs 0 Getafe | Granada 0 vs 0 Valencia | Real Sociedad 1 vs 3 Villarreal SerieA: Juventus 3 vs 2 Frosinone | Genoa 2 vs 0 Udinese | Salernitana 0 vs 2 Monza | Sassuolo 2 vs 3 Empoli | Bologna 2 vs 0 Hellas Verona | Torino 0 vs 2 SS Lazio European Championships Qualifying: Watford 1 vs 2 Huddersfield Town | Ipswich Town 3 vs 1 Birmingham City | Sunderland 1 vs 2 Swansea City | Blackburn Rovers 1 vs 1 Norwich City | Southampton 1 vs 2 Millwall FC | Cardiff City 2 vs 1 Stoke City | Queens Park Rangers 2 vs 1 Rotherham United | Sheffield Wednesday 2 vs 1 Bristol City | Middlesbrough 0 vs 2 Plymouth Argyle | Hull City 1 vs 1 West Bromwich Albion | Leeds United 3 vs 1 Leicester City | Coventry City 0 vs 3 Preston North End English Championship: Watford 1 vs 2 Huddersfield Town | Ipswich Town 3 vs 1 Birmingham City | Sunderland 1 vs 2 Swansea City | Blackburn Rovers 1 vs 1 Norwich City | Southampton 1 vs 2 Millwall FC | Cardiff City 2 vs 1 Stoke City | Queens Park Rangers 2 vs 1 Rotherham United | Sheffield Wednesday 2 vs 1 Bristol City | Middlesbrough 0 vs 2 Plymouth Argyle | Hull City 1 vs 1 West Bromwich Albion | Leeds United 3 vs 1 Leicester City | Coventry City 0 vs 3 Preston North End Weather: Katima Mulilo: 22° | 41° Rundu: 22° | 40° Eenhana: 22° | 37° Oshakati: 23° | 36° Ruacana: 19° | 36° Tsumeb: 24° | 37° Otjiwarongo: 22° | 34° Omaruru: 21° | 36° Windhoek: 22° | 32° Gobabis: 22° | 35° Henties Bay: 16° | 19° Wind speed: 21km/h, Wind direction: S, Low tide: 10:10, High tide: 04:15, Low Tide: 22:13, High tide: 16:26 Swakopmund: 16° | 17° Wind speed: 25km/h, Wind direction: SW, Low tide: 10:08, High tide: 04:13, Low Tide: 22:11, High tide: 16:24 Walvis Bay: 16° | 21° Wind speed: 30km/h, Wind direction: SW, Low tide: 10:08, High tide: 04:12, Low Tide: 22:11, High tide: 16:23 Rehoboth: 20° | 34° Mariental: 20° | 36° Keetmanshoop: 19° | 35° Aranos: 20° | 36° Lüderitz: 14° | 30° Ariamsvlei: 16° | 34° Oranjemund: 13° | 26° Luanda: 26° | 28° Gaborone: 21° | 39° Lubumbashi: 18° | 26° Mbabane: 14° | 20° Maseru: 10° | 32° Antananarivo: 15° | 27° Lilongwe: 18° | 30° Maputo: 21° | 26° Windhoek: 22° | 32° Cape Town: 16° | 25° Durban: 18° | 22° Johannesburg: 19° | 32° Dar es Salaam: 27° | 33° Lusaka: 18° | 34° Harare: 18° | 33° Economic Indicators: Currency: GBP to NAD 24.4 | EUR to NAD 20.87 | CNY to NAD 2.68 | USD to NAD 19.28 | DZD to NAD 0.14 | AOA to NAD 0.02 | BWP to NAD 1.35 | EGP to NAD 0.62 | KES to NAD 0.13 | NGN to NAD 0.01 | ZMW to NAD 0.83 | ZWL to NAD 0.04 | BRL to NAD 3.86 | RUB to NAD 0.21 | INR to NAD 0.23 | USD to DZD 134.44 | USD to AOA 828.51 | USD to BWP 13.77 | USD to EGP 30.85 | USD to KES 144.98 | USD to NGN 1488.4 | USD to ZAR 19.29 | USD to ZMW 22.95 | USD to ZWL 321 | Stock Exchange: JSE All Share Index 74213.39 Up +0.14% | Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) Overall Index 1551.37 Up +0.01% | Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE) MASI 13083.17 Up +0.74% | Egyptian Exchange (EGX) 30 Index 29309.73 Up +0.06% | Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) DCI 9001.84 Same 0 | NSX: MTC 7.75 SAME | Anirep 8.99 SAME | Capricorn Investment group 17.34 SAME | FirstRand Namibia Ltd 49 DOWN 0.50% | Letshego Holdings (Namibia) Ltd 4.1 UP 2.50% | Namibia Asset Management Ltd 0.7 SAME | Namibia Breweries Ltd 31.49 UP 0.03% | Nictus Holdings - 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