The Middle East and North Africa is currently faced with the challenge of diversifying energy sources away from oil and gas, reducing CO2 emissions, while at the same time meeting the needs of growing populations and expanding economies. As such, hosting COP27 and COP28, the largest and most important international conference dedicated to climate change, is of great significance to the Arab world as it presents a unique opportunity to find solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges.
During COP26, the powerful potential of renewable transformation in the MENA region was acknowledged. The energy transition and the shift away from fossil fuels is shaping policy and investment in the Middle East. With about 28GW of renewable energy production capacity installed across the region, renewables represent only 7% of the region’s power generation capacity (MEED report 2021). However, with declining technology costs, most countries are planning solar and wind projects, with Saudi Arabia and UAE leading the way. In addition, Egypt is planning to increase its supply of electricity generated from renewable sources to 20 percent by 2022 and up to 42 percent by 2035.
There are reasons specific to both the UAE and Egypt that make hosting the COP events significant. For Egypt, as the largest oil producer in Africa outside of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), has been making ambitious goals in recent years, including the Egyptian Solar Plan that will add 3.5 GW of solar energy by 2027. Most importantly, Egypt hosting COP 27 this year is a significant milestone as it will help future innovative solutions to drive environmental sustainability in Africa, one of the most vulnerable regions to the consequences of climate change.
While for the UAE was the first Gulf country to sign and ratify the Paris agreement and the first Arab country to set voluntary clean energy targets. The country has taken significant steps to accelerate the transition to clean energy including rolling out the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 to drive energy decarbonisation and ensure efficient use of energy. The UAE hosting COP28 is essential for laying the groundwork for the UAE’s “Net Zero by 2050.”