If 2021 is anything to go by, we can expect to see plenty more fervour towards achieving net-zero emissions and strengthening climate commitments in 2022.
At a global level, 2021 heralded marked improvements as governments convened at pinnacle summits such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, with the aim of furthering agreements to accelerate efforts towards a low-carbon economy and keep the ambition of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C alive.
We also witnessed a landmark report as the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released alarming findings about the clear impact that human activity is having, and has had, on our climate in its 6th assessment published on August 9th.
Furthermore, the International Energy Agency released its Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector report which provided the world’s first comprehensive study of how to transition to a net-zero energy system by 2050 while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access, and enabling robust economic growth.
So, what does all of this this mean heading into 2022? In short, a continuous and devout commitment to net-zero 2050 has to remain front and centre in order to ensure we strike a balance between the carbon emissions going into our atmosphere and those being taken out – plain and simple.
To tackle this challenge in the Middle East, responding to the climate emergency means more cross-sectoral collaboration is needed to push forward net-zero ambitions – such as Saudi Arabia’s announcement to be net-zero by 2060 and the UAE Net-Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative – and ensure these goals can be scaled up to mitigate further detrimental warming.
The Middle East’s ‘moment of truth’
In his now famous address at Columbia University on December 2nd, 2020, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres declared the world had come to a “moment of truth”, and that “Covid and climate have brought us to a threshold”. Calling for increased ambition towards carbon neutrality, greener investment, and urgent climate action, Guterres set the scene for a transformational year leading into 2021.
Whilst the climate outcomes of 2021 are open for debate, Guterres message carries strong resonance for the Middle East heading into 2022.
With the United Nations Climate Change Conference for 2022 (COP27) set to be held in Egypt, and COP28 confirmed for the United Arab Emirates in 2023, the world will shift its focus to the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region. With this, we can expect the spotlight to be held firmly on Egypt and the UAE as two of the GCC’s most advanced economies set the tone for discussions around energy transition, renewable energy targets, and advocate for the region on climate finance in a bid to showcase green credentials and nullify concerns about the region’s traditional reliance on fossil fuel economies, particularly the petroleum sector. Looking ahead 12 months from now, a hopeful outcome would certainly be countries remaining firm on their pledges and reinforcing beefed up national contributions to support net zero 2050 targets.
As a leading global environmental consulting firm, WSP is committed towards aiding clients on their journeys to mitigate the climate crisis and we are well positioned to advise our clients on their transition to a low-carbon economy. As 2022 gets underway, we’re helping clients and communities act now by accelerating change, putting climate at the forefront, keeping the 1.5°C target alive, and helping the region conquer its moment of truth.
If you’d like to join the conversation or find out more about WSP Middle East’s Environment & Sustainability Advisory, email [email protected].
This article was originally posted on the 17th January 2022 to our dedicated thought leadership platform WSP-Anticipate.com.