One of OPEC’s largest producers, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is considering the potential adoption of a net-zero by 2050 goal.
If the Gulf oil producer joins major industrialized nations in the net-zero emissions commitments, it will become the first major petrostate to balance major emission-reduction goals with its important oil and gas industry. Around 30 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is directly based on oil and gas output, according to OPEC. Oil discoveries in the UAE, the first in the late 1950s, have made the emirates a wealthy country with a high standard of living.
According to Bloomberg’s sources, the UAE could be looking to make a net-zero announcement ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November.
The UAE is “certainly working on a whole-of-government approach to see at what point it would be feasible to achieve net zero,” Hana AlHashimi, who heads the office of Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Group CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), said on a U.S.-UAE Business Council call this week, as quoted by Bloomberg.
Net-zero emissions from oil and gas operations in the UAE would technically mean that the country could achieve net-zero within its borders without considering the emissions from the use of the oil it is shipping abroad, Bloomberg notes.
Currently, ADNOC continues to target expanding its oil production capacity to 5 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2030.
Last December, the UAE said it would aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 23.5 percent compared to “business as usual” by 2030, targeting an absolute emission reduction of around 70 million tons. The country also looks to increase its installed clean power capacity, including solar and nuclear, to 14 gigawatts (GW), and to strengthen climate resilience of its priority sectors, including energy.
If the UAE announces a net-zero target, this could pressure other U.S. allies in the Middle East to pledge such goals, including the world’s largest oil exporter Saudi Arabia.