July 2, 2009
The Middle East oil/gas producer countries- GCC, Iraq and Iran – are among the big C02 emitters on the planet. Jointly they are responsible for more than four percent of global emissions – more than India – due to the nature of their industries, their high living standards, low energy prices and an excessive waste of energy.
The wealthiest countries in the region – Kuwait, Qatar and UAE – register the highest levels of per capita emissions world-wide, more than 30 tons per year, about three times the EU level.
Despite the damaging impact on the global climate, the international community has abstained from raising eyebrows. The big powers seemed more concerned with the security of their oil and gas supplies, at the lowest possible prices, and therefore preferred to ignore high C02 emissions in the Gulf.
The time has come to put an end to this complacency.
The GCC, Iraq and Iran should no longer be allowed to hide behind the label of “emerging country” and take appropriate commitments for reducing their C02 emissions. They possess the financial and technical means to do so.
Domestic prices of gasoline, fuel and gas should rise substantially to put a lid on energy waste. This is in their interest and in that of humanity.
As a first priority they should abolish all existing subsidies on fossil energy, in a second stage introduce gasoline/fuel taxes and/or a cap and trade system for restraining C02 emissions from oil extraction, oil and gas refineries, power plants, water desalination, petrochemical, fertiliser, cement and aluminium industries, air transport etc. In addition, power companies should generate a certain share of their electricity, say 20 percent, from solar and wind sources.
The Gulf countries need to tackle climate change more than anybody else on earth.
By responding to world energy demand, they keep humanity addicted to fossil energies. But as this addiction will come to an end in the course of the 21st and early 22nd century, the Gulf countries will lose their lifeline whatever the size of their fossil reserves.
And they will not escape the consequences of climate change. Climate conditions will become even harsher than today, with even hotter summers, even less precipitation and slowly rising sea levels.
To survive the Gulf countries will have to harness their unlimited solar power potential or nuclear power. There is no time to be lost on that path.
· The most recent decision to install the new international agency for renewable energy (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi and not in Bonn was wise.
· The European consortium for the development of solar power in the Sahara (Desertec), which will be established in Mid-July, should associate interested power companies from the Gulf region.
· Last not least, the EU should offer interested Gulf countries to participate when developing solar power generation in the Sahara in the framework of the “Union for the Mediterranean”.
Brussels, 30.06 09 Eberhard Rhein
Author : Eberhard Rhein