The lead up to what the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hopes will be a pivotal COP28 has been overshadowed by questions about whether the UAE, as a major oil-producing country, is sincerely interested in decarbonization. The debate over the UAE’s chairmanship (and in particular, the chairman himself) has been louder than talk of the topics on the table at this year’s COP. How is the UAE positioning itself to be a decarbonization leader, and are its ambitions to be a climate leader substantiated or merely symbolic? Joelle Thomas takes a closer look.
Since its devastating port explosion in August of 2020, Lebanon has been making headlines for its failing currency and pervasive corruption. Since 2020, the country has been struggling with significant electricity cuts from its state electricity supplier EDL – Electricite du Liban – and shortages of diesel for generators that serve over a million customers. In the wake of this crisis, the Lebanese people are doing the same thing they’ve done for as long as most Lebanese can remember: taking matters into their own hands. Solar power has proven to be a powerful tool for energy independence, and it has seen unprecedented growth in Lebanon since the onset of these tough times. Could solar power be the solution to Lebanon’s decades-old energy problem?
There has been no shortage of news about Mohamad Bin Salman, more commonly known as MBS, the 35-year crown prince of Saudi Arabia. A controversial figure, he has been hailed as a reformer, but also criticized for corruption and human rights abuses. He came to power at a time when Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical prowess as an energy giant may be threatened by the energy transition. This year, Saudi Arabia has embarked on a massive diplomatic effort to set itself up for success in a world inching towards clean energy, but still grappling with energy security, independence and resilience issues brought on by recent conflicts like the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Among many of the many topics on MBS’s desk are: how will Saudi Arabia fare in a post-oil world? MBS’s diplomatic moves of the past few months may signal the future direction of MBS’s energy diplomacy. Joelle Thomas reports.
In 2022, there are wins to be celebrated for climate policy. The recent US legislation is the first time in 40 years that the government has managed to pass any meaningful climate policy. The invasion of Ukraine has shaken Europe to accelerate the move away from Russian oil and gas. However, it is hard to celebrate wins for the climate without addressing the elephant in the room – the thriving and ever-profiting oil and gas sector. While recent geopolitical events did indeed infuse the energy transition with, (no pun intended), some much needed energy, Joelle Thomas would argue that the biggest winners of the past year’s events have been oil and gas companies. What does this mean for the energy transition?
Since Russia’s devastating invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, EU policy makers and energy companies have been asking themselves an inconvenient but long overdue question: how to finally achieve energy independence from Russian gas? One of their solutions: biogas. The EU recently announced plans to ramp up biogas production to a volume of 20% of current Russian gas imports by 2030. In the new plan, biogas is expected to replace parts of the Russian fossil gas used for heating, industrial processes, and electricity generation.
The race to become the world leader in hydrogen production has begun—and the Middle East is at the front of the pack. Hydrogen—and in particular—green hydrogen, is often portrayed as the “silver bullet” in decarbonization technology—able to decarbonize even the hardest-to-abate sectors. With some of the best renewable energy sources in the world (both solar and wind), many Middle Eastern countries seek to maintain their position as global energy giants by producing and exporting new energy vectors — namely, hydrogen and its derivatives. Yet Joelle Thomas found herself wondering whether these lofty hydrogen goals will be sustainable in a region with one significant resource constraint: water.
Although the epicenter of the world’s petro- economy, countries in the Middle East understand the need to diversify away from fossil fuels. The need to transition is most strongly driven by broader regional priorities to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and grow the economy while also providing jobs for the increasing population of young people. At first glance, nuclear seems an apt tool to help the region meet these dual objectives. However, Middle Eastern countries would be better served by investing resources pegged to nuclear in the more promising solar and wind industries.