Russia-Ukraine crisis revealed the world's heavy reliance on hydrocarbons: UAE Minister

The road to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 in the UAE, she said, will require time and money



NA300322-SK-WGSMariam Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE  in a panel discussion, Governing Peaceful Energy for Global Prosperity at the World Government Summit in Dubai. 30 , March 2022. Photo by Shihab
NA300322-SK-WGSMariam Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE in a panel discussion, Governing Peaceful Energy for Global Prosperity at the World Government Summit in Dubai. 30 , March 2022. Photo by Shihab
by

Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Wed 30 Mar 2022, 6:30 PM

The current oil crisis resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict gave the world “a reality check” of the prolonging heavy reliance on hydrocarbons, said a UAE Minister.

Speaking at the World Government Summit, Mariam Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said "the biggest reality check for us is that we are not ready to move away from hydrocarbons.”

The road to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 in the UAE, she said, will require time and money.

“We need to ramp up clean renewables and decarbonize our hydrocarbons as much as possible, while understanding that we are still heavily dependent on the current system."

In reference to the global shortage due to the suspension of Russian gas, Almheiri said, “countries are asking us to produce more because their systems are not ready. Once our systems are ready, we can transition [to clean energy]."

The UAE’s journey towards renewable energy started with the signing of the Paris agreement sixteen years ago, and setting up Masdar city in Abu Dhabi. Since then, the country has taken great strides in the field by hosting the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi and becoming home to three of the world’s biggest solar parks in the world at the lowest cost.

Last year, the UAE activated the second reactor of its nuclear power plant Barakah, which, once fully operational, will supply up to 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity.

Almheiri noted that the UAE invested $40 billion in renewable energy, and $17 billion in clean energy ventures in over 70 countries.

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Talking about the difference between availability of energy and accessibility, Almheiri stated that “we have solar parks but how to bring [that energy] to consumers is the question. Our technologies are available, but energy distribution and storage are components that must be invested in heavily.”

Hosting COP28 in the UAE next year, and COP27 in Egypt later this year will serve as a unique opportunity for the Arab region to showcase achievements made in the clean energy sector.

She stressed on the need to adopt nuclear energy. “The energy sector contributes to two-thirds of gas emissions across the world. It is the biggest sector we have to transition.”

For the energy diversification portfolio, she stressed that “we need to look at all solutions at hand and nuclear is one of them. We need energy sources that are clean, affordable and reliable. Nuclear energy ticks all these boxes.”

With the expensive and time-consuming transition to clean energy, Almheiri said all the solutions need to be considered and nuclear "is one of them.”


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