Lack of Middle East investment in renewables called out in Davos
As COP 28 in Abu Dhabi approaches later this year, focus on the region’s faltering approach to renewable energy is coming under scrutiny at the World Economic Forum.
Jenny Davis-Peccoud, head of the sustainability and responsibility practice at management consultants Bain & Company, has warned that the Middle East is not investing enough in renewables projects if it is to reach net zero by 2050.
“The Middle East has started investment in renewables and major projects are coming online, but actually, in terms of where the Middle East is now versus investments globally, it is still a small percentage and it really needs to accelerate”, said Davis-Peccoud.
Davis-Peccoud made the remarks at a World Economic Forum (WEF) panel being held in Davos, Switzerland, based on the topic of “building momentum towards COP 28”. COP28, which is being hosted in UAE capital Abu Dhabi later this year, has already gained attention for appointing an oil and gas CEO as the conference president.
At the same panel discussion, Majid Al Suwaidi, director general and special representative for COP 28, said: “At the upcoming COP 28, we need to take huge leaps forward. We need to get the right people in the rooms to come forward with real solutions, try to drive that ambition from countries and from the private sector. If we can bring these two worlds together, I think that we can deliver really big results.”
The Earth’s new normal?
At a separate WEF event, Andrew Forrest, chairman and founder of Fortescue Metals Group, spoke of the firm’s move in September 2022 to spend $6.2bn to decarbonise its iron ore operations by 2030.
Forrest said: “We know that the technology is going to improve and people who come after us will do it quicker and cheaper. But that $6.2bn will pay itself off through the construction period of at least half. Then we're down to nearly $3bn expenditure
“After that, over the next 20 years we're going to either blow another $20bn on fossil fuel, or we can save a billion dollars a year. That's a great investment against a net $3bn.”
Forrest was speaking at a panel discussion on the topic of “leading the charge though the Earth’s new normal”, which assessed the leadership needed for solutions and global collaboration to build a more inclusive, prosperous and sustainable future.
The panel discussion was dominated by scientific assessment of climate change and its catastrophic impact on biodiversity and the human race. However, Al Gore, former US vice president and long-time campaigner against climate change, also pointed to glimmers of hope such as regulatory developments in the US.
“The US has passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which is primarily a climate act of $369bn, which will actually be much larger than that because the heavy lifting is done by tax credits that are very long term, some of them actually open ended. The early investments that have already been triggered by the act give a great deal of reason to believe this,” said Gore.
As well as featuring climate campaigners such as Gore and US presidential envoy John Kerry, the WEF also hosted an event with the International Energy Agency’s Fatih Birol that featured a conversation with activist Greta Thunberg on the subject of “treating the climate crisis like a crisis”.