Whether we manage to contain the climate crisis effectively will be decided in part in the Gulf region. Nowhere else are the risks and opportunities connected with the global energy transition so close together. On the one hand, the region is a centre of the global oil and gas industry. On the other hand, the Gulf states are also aware that the fossil age is coming to an end. In addition to continued expenditure on extracting oil and gas, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are investing large sums in the development of renewable energies. The potential is huge, above all for solar energy.
The sign of the times is clear – sustainable, climate-neutral energy is on the rise worldwide. In the past year, more money was invested in renewable energy than in oil and gas, and the number of renewable energy projects increased by 25 percent. The only question is whether this transition is happening fast enough to keep the 1.5 degree target within reach.
The fact that this year’s Climate Change Conference will take place in Dubai, and thus in the Gulf region, presents an enormous opportunity. It would be a powerful and important message to the world if the impulse to phase out fossil energy were to come from this region. My first trip outside Europe this year is thus to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, with a view to speeding up this change and advancing the energy transition – in the Gulf and worldwide.