The virtue of green choice for Qatar

The virtue of green choice for Qatar


The virtue of green choice for Qatar could well be served by only reducing all greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors by 25% by 2030 . . . 

The above-featured image is for illustration and is credit to Middle-East campaign.

The virtue of green choice for Qatar

Dr. Yassine Talaoui in The Peninsula of 20 Sep 2023

Qatar seeks to increase LNG production by 63% by 2027 and commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors by 25 percent by 2030. Though the two goals may sound contradictory, the curious mind muses on how this could lead Qatar to fashion a dual role as both gas exporter and green-energy powerhouse. Further, the challenge in setting up Qatar’s dual energy role isn’t in the potential or commitment. After all, the region has witnessed multiple attempts of diversifying commodity-based economies to no avail.

How can Qatar square the circle, then? Put simply, by coming through with the finance and the mechanics of spending it.

Allow me to explain.

Since its discovery in 1972, Gas has propelled Qatar development into a wealthy and ambitious state. The kind of ambition that landed Qatar the FIFA World Cup and carved it a role as a regional problem solver. The time now has come to use that very same commodity to build a different economic future for generations to come.

Last year, Qatar has reported a budget surplus of $24billion. This cash excess is likely to swell further due to the increasing gas demand caused by the Ukraine-Russia Crisis, which has turned gas into the new oil. Qatar’s ministry of finance could use this surplus to beef up the Qatar Investment Authority to snap up some trophy assets. But it could also divert these proceeds toward building electric grids capable of handling the transition to clean energy. In the long run, the latter option translates to choosing action today and fewer tradeoffs ahead. It would mean spreading the cost of climate change by securing a more productive hydrocarbon-free economy for Qatar, fewer emissions, and lowering the risk of flooding and extreme heat. As such, Qatar could power its growth using renewable grids, which would replace the ones running on hydrocarbons. In this vein, Qatar’s high solar potential could be used to develop solar energy projects to create thousand megawatts of solar generation capacity.

As the country expands its domestic production capacity by $30billion to swell further gas revenues, pumping these surpluses into renewable grids would elevate Qatar to a much higher level of success toward reaching NetZero emissions. This necessitates a pledge to invest continuously in green development projects that can reduce emissions and spur carbon-free economic growth. Such an aim can be achieved via proper carbon pricing and international emissions trading to persuade the private sector to join forces for Qatar’s decarbonizing efforts. Government aids and loans can follow with green strings to incentivize the private sector to contribute to cutting emissions and converting hydrocarbon-powered consumption to a green one.

Becoming an even bigger player in gas production would mean Qatar can pour gas proceeds into clean manufacturing and diversifying local economies. As cash flows in, Qatar’s transition away from hydrocarbons speeds up and its competitiveness in the non-hydrocarbon economy rises. It is possible to imagine how such a virtuous cycle of hydrocarbon proceeds and clean-economy growth might lead to more investment and trade that lifts Qatar’s living standards and broadens prosperity for its population. The gas bonanza can be used to finance essential infrastructure and desalination projects that can help Qatar’s cities stay habitable amid rising temperatures. Environmental journalist Gaia Vince argues, in her book “Nomad Century, that regions populated by close to 3.5 billion people would become unsuitable for living if the world temperature grew by a mere 4 degrees.

Gas has been and continues to be a valuable source of foreign exchange for Qatar. With its revenues, the government can continue its social spending, school, healthcare, and public services funding, and direct what is left of its budget toward green economy maneuvers. These entail a series of projects such as waste-processing plants, a big sea wall, or even swapping to electric buses. At the global level, these moves will bring Qatar closer to the COP national climate targets. At the national level, they will shield Qatar from regional and global crises 10 to 20 years from now. And most importantly, on Qatar’s balance sheet, their cost can be afforded today.

By acting now, Qatar can avoid the tradeoff, lying ahead, between climate and development. As temperatures rise and world poverty presses, the tradeoff is imminent. Weird as it may sound, Qatar’s gas production expansion is its exit plan from a hydrocarbon-based economy toward a diversified economy aimed at lowering environmental risks and ecological scarcities and building infrastructure that promotes social and environmental sustainability.

Dr. Yassine Talaoui  is Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Organizational Excellence, College of Business and Economics, Qatar University.





The oil industry and its dangerous new climate denialism

The oil industry and its dangerous new climate denialism


The oil industry and its new climate denialism seem to tread on dangerous grounds.  Adi Imsirovic of the University of Surrey elaborates on the details.

The above-featured image is for illustration and is credit to the IFS.


The oil industry has succumbed to a dangerous new climate denialism

Oil workers pushing barrels out of an oil rig
OPEC predicts oil demand will be 10% higher by the 2040s. Iurii

If we have not been warned of the dangers of climate change this summer, we never will be. Extreme heat, forest fires and floods have been all over news reports. Yet the oil and gas industry remains largely in denial.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says steep cuts in oil and gas production are necessary to reach the Paris (COP 21) goal of keeping global warming at 1.5℃. However, only a tiny fraction of the industry, accounting for less than 5% of oil and gas output, has targets aligned with the IEA’s “net zero” requirements.

The current secretary general of production cartel Opec, Haitham al-Ghais, expects global oil demand to rise by about 10% to 110 million barrels a day by 2045, a volume incompatible with the Paris goals. The UK government has just offered a helping hand, granting around 100 new North Sea licences. What are we to make of this mismatch?

The new denialism

Typical of the new breed of climate denialism is a recent report by the Energy Policy Research Foundation (ERPF), a body funded by the US government and various undisclosed corporate interests and foundations. It sees the IEA’s requirements as a “seal of approval … to block investment in oil and gas production by western companies”. The report views meeting the targets as too costly, too harsh on poor countries and too bad for the energy security of the west.

In fact, it is wrong on each account. Many eminent economists and scientists use the concept of the social cost of carbon (SCC), which is defined as the cost to society of releasing an additional tonne of CO₂. Expert estimates from 2019 put this at between US$171 and US$310 (£133 to £241). If we go with, say, US$240 per tonne, the social cost of continued carbon equivalent emissions comes out at almost US$8.5 trillion every year.

A recent study has factored into the calculation climate feedback loops. This is where one problem caused by global warming leads to others, such as melting permafrost unleashing stores of methane.

When the study estimated the economic damage that this could cause, it produced an SCC in excess of US$5,000. That implies annual costs of more like US$170 trillion a year, which makes the US$4 trillion investment into clean energy that the IEA thinks necessary to meet the Paris climate goals look like a drop in the ocean.

Temperatures in countries such as Greece have soared to dangerously high levels this summer. EPA

It may help to break this down to one barrel of oil. A special IEA report for COP28 estimates that on average, each barrel of oil emits 0.53 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent in greenhouse gas across its life cycle, 20% of which comes from production.

Going back to our average SSC per tonne of US$240, that points to a social cost of US$126 per barrel. With oil currently at US$85 per barrel, the societal damage from producing, transporting, refining and consuming it is far greater – and that’s before including climate feedbacks.

Meanwhile, the arguments by the EPRF and like-minded supporters about energy security are laughable. The history of the oil and gas industry is a history of wars and geopolitical tensions. Transitioning to cleaner fuels can only increase our energy security and reduce the need to police remote autocracies.

The argument that poor countries need to continue burning carbon for development reasons is no better. In its latest report from 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said climate change would probably see an increase in “losses and damages, strongly concentrated among the poorest vulnerable populations”.

Equally, the World Health Organization estimates that: “Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.”

How to respond

The denialists offer no alternatives to cutting carbon emissions, and often simply ignore climate change altogether. The recent ERPF report mentions climate change only four times. It is as if heatwaves, forest fires, flooding, rising sea levels and the demise of natural habitat caused by climate inaction were happening on another planet.

We still have time to limit global warming below 1.5℃. It is true that we will need oil and gas for many years, and that there are currently no alternatives for certain sectors such as air travel, shipping and some industries. Nonetheless, there is still much that can be done now to make a substantial difference.

To incentivise the transition to cleaner energy, governments need to end fossil fuel subsidies, which the IMF estimates amounted to US$5.9 trillion in 2020 alone. We also need to put a proper price on carbon – only 40 countries have attempted this so far, and none has it anywhere near the estimated social cost of emitting carbon.

Countries that resist charging their own polluters should face a carbon border adjustment mechanism, which is a tariff that effectively puts the polluter on the same footing as local players. If all the actors in the fossil fuel supply chain had to face the cost of the damage they cause, the need to phase out long-term investments in fossil fuels would become more obvious.

The IEA requirements for “net zero” are just one of the pathways towards meeting the Paris goal of 1.5℃ warming. Others are explored by some of the more credible actors in the petroleum industry, such as Shell, BP and Norway’s Equinor, but all require a substantial decline in oil demand and production by 2050.

Required production cuts

I left the IEA’s scenario off the graph because it published so few datapoints, but it is broadly in line with the others. Meanwhile, the OPEC data is for reference and not a net zero scenario. BP, Shell, Equinor and OPEC

Instead of criticising efforts to slow climate change and sponsoring ridiculous reports calling for more fossil fuels, the oil industry should eliminate leakages, venting and flaring of methane, and electrify as many processes as possible using renewable power. It should also employ carbon capture, usage and storage technologies over the next ten years – yes this will increase the price of fossil fuels, but that is exactly what we need to make clean sources of energy competitive across the board and speed up the energy transition.

The sooner the industry starts facing up to the realities of climate change, the more chance it has to survive. The companies and even countries that produce fossil fuels will have to face and pay the cost for the damage they cause. Those costs are already massive and will grow. Those that survive will do so only as a provider of clean and sustainable energy.



Adi Imsirovic, Fellow, University of Surrey

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Research, implementation vital to solving climate change issues


Research, implementation vital to solving climate change issues

By Ayeni Olusegun | The Peninsula 28 Jun 2023 

The image above is that of Al Wajbah Fort: A landmark in Qatar’s history and present, credit to The Peninsula, Qatar

Professor Mohammad Irshidat



Doha, Qatar: Innovative research and implementation are vital to Qatar and the region in light of climate change and environmental issues, Professor Mohammad Irshidat, the Director of the Center for Advanced Materials (CAM) at Qatar University, has disclosed.

In an interview with The Peninsula, Prof Irshidat said the region faces unique environmental challenges, such as extreme heat, humidity and water scarcity. These challenges have made it imperative to prioritise scientific research and take proactive measures to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is among the most vulnerable to physical climate change impacts, putting human activities and natural systems at high risk.

“Research plays a crucial role in understanding the specific challenges faced by Qatar and the region, as well as identifying effective solutions,” Prof Irshidat told The Peninsula.

“It helps generate valuable data, conduct climate modelling, and assess the vulnerability and risks associated with climate change. This knowledge is essential for making informed decisions and formulating evidence-based policies and strategies,” he added.

The water-stressed MENA already battles with instability in several countries which has damaging environmental consequences leading to severe humanitarian crises. Besides, the impact of oil and gas exploration and the resulting GHG emissions and the lack of arable lands also affect food security, increasing internal hunger displacement among poorer nations in the region. At the same time, the more affluent countries rely more on importation.

However, many modern techniques through research have been funded by Qatar and other countries, especially in the region, to mitigate the impacts of climate change and turn the tide by creating a green and sustainable future.

In 2021, Qatar launched the Qatar National Environment and Climate Change Strategy to protect and enhance the country’s environment, safeguard its population’s well-being and ensure the economy’s long-term resilience.

The strategy also saw Qatar commit to reducing greenhouse (GHG) emissions by 25 percent by 2030, enhancing ambient air quality standards and updating limit values by 2024, among other environmental-friendly policies.

Several countries in the region have also launched sustainability strategies. Despite this, several still find it hard to implement their policies.

Prof Irshidat stressed that implementing research projects is equally essential to addressing sustainability, environmental awareness and climate change.

“Implementation is important, as it involves translating research findings into practical actions. Qatar and the region can benefit significantly from implementing sustainable practices, renewable energy projects, efficient water management systems, and innovative technologies. These initiatives can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resources, protect biodiversity, and build climate resilience,” Prof Irshidat said.

He added that research and implementation contribute to economic diversification and sustainable development. According to him, by investing in clean energy technologies, sustainable agriculture, and green industries, Qatar and the region can create new job opportunities, foster innovation, attract investments, and enhance competitiveness in a rapidly evolving global landscape.

“Research and implementation are paramount to Qatar and the region’s response to climate change and environmental challenges. They provide the knowledge, tools, and actions necessary to build a sustainable and resilient future, ensuring the well-being of current and future generations.”



Oil leaves invisible footprint on Gulf’s non-oil economies

Touted progress in diversifying Gulf economies beyond the fossil fuel rent comes with a caveat. Oil and gas revenues indirectly propel large chunks of the non-oil economy through public expenditures such as wages, subsidies and infrastructure spending.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the non-oil segment of Gulf economies to grow 45% faster than the overall gross domestic product (GDP) this year, which includes the oil and gas sector. The figure is in line with the 2000-2019 average trend.

This follows a unique situation in 2022 when the Gulf’s overall gross domestic product expanded 57% faster than the non-oil segment after oil prices surged to their highest levels since 2008 as Western sanctions against Russia threatened to disrupt global oil supply. Even so, the World Bank noted in a May 2023 report that Gulf economies’ “stellar growth” last year “was not just a result of buoyant hydrocarbon prices but also continued growth of non-oil economies.”

“Hopefully by 2030, I wouldn’t care if the oil price is zero”, Saudi Arabia’s finance minister Mohammed Al Jadaan told CNN in 2017. But the prospect of decoupling the Gulf’s overall economy from its main export commodity in the near future has long been exaggerated.

“It is a mixed picture,” said Justin Alexander, director of Khalij Economics, a consulting firm. “Looking at just non-oil GDP figures is misleading.” Parts of the economy, he said, “are basically the result of the recycling of oil revenues through government spending rather than independent value creation.” Since oil revenues still account for about two-thirds of Saudi Arabia’s government revenue, the kingdom remains a petrostate.

Oil is sticky 

Across Gulf economies, most economic developments are directly or indirectly driven by government spending, according to Jalal Qanas, an assistant professor in economics at Qatar University. The share of Gulf countries’ GDP from government expenditure has been trending up since the 2007-09 global financial crisis. In 2021, IMF data showed that it ranged from 29% in the UAE to 52% in Kuwait.

The fossil fuel rent’s invisible footprint runs deep into Gulf’s non-oil economy, from grocery shopping, entertainment activities, cab rides, and cars paid with public sector wages to flats bought with subsidized housing loans and wedding ceremonies funded by marriage grants. Alexander called it “complicated interlinkages” between Gulf’s economies and governments. Yet, non-oil economies are the cornerstone of everyday life in the Gulf region, a major source of employment and social interactions.

In Qatar, the government has wound down its public spending frenzy estimated at $300 billion ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022. “Once you turn off the tap, will the private sector survive?” Qanas asked. “We need to wait at least one to two years to see how the country’s private sector will behave with less government spending”

Saudi Arabia launched the $1.3 trillion Shareek initiative in 2021 to push companies to invest domestically, particularly in the non-oil economy. But there is a catch: two of the initiative’s largest contributors are the kingdom’s top fossil fuel giants, national oil company Saudi Aramco and petrochemical firm SABIC.

Also, the private sector has done a poor job so far of converting the Gulf’s fossil fuel rent into economic sectors that can stand on their own. Corporate performance in Gulf economies, although it varies between countries and industries, is deteriorating. Profitability of the median firm in the region plummeted from 15.2% in 2007 to 4.1% in 2021, the IMF found.

Dubai has “set an example” 

A notable exception is Dubai, where oil output peaked in 1991. The emirate’s oil sector slipped from about half of the local economy 50 years ago to only 1% of pre-pandemic GDP as the sheikhdom, one of the seven that form the UAE, built the Gulf’s first post-oil economy. In the third quarter of 2022, wholesale, retail trade, real estate, construction, manufacturing, and financial and insurance activities accounted for 60% of its GDP. The emirate’s push to become a global hub decouples its economy further from the region’s oil boom and bust cycles.

Tourism and real estate insulate Dubai’s economy from the wider Gulf. Seven out of ten tourists who visited Dubai in the first quarter of 2023 did not come from the Middle East, while top non-resident buyers of real estate in Dubai in 2022 were Russian, British, Indian, German, and French citizens.

Dubai may be the first, but it will not be the last Gulf post-oil economy. Omani luxury fragrance brand Amouage sells its perfume in more than 80 countries, Bahrain is a fintech hub for the Middle East, Qatar makes its mark in global sporting events, and Muslim pilgrims from all over the world flock to Saudi Arabia’s Mecca.

“Dubai has set an example for the region, and now Gulf countries are all trying, I would not say to copy, but to learn from what Dubai did,” Qanas said.


Read more on Al-Monitor :



Phasing out Fossil Fuels to avoid Climate ‘Catastrophe’


Guterres calls for phasing out fossil fuels to avoid climate ‘catastrophe’

© Unsplash/Amir Arabshahi
Burning fossil fuels like coal contributes to climate change.


Guterres calls for phasing out fossil fuels to avoid climate ‘catastrophe’

Climate and Environment

Countries must phase out coal and other fossil fuels to avert climate “catastrophe”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned on Thursday in New York.  


“We are hurtling towards disaster, eyes wide open”, he said.  “It’s time to wake up and step up.”

Mr. Guterres was speaking to journalists at UN Headquarters following a meeting with civil society climate leaders from across the world.

‘Catastrophe’ looms 

He said limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible but will require a 45 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

However, current policies will lead to a 2.8°C temperature rise by the end of the century, which “spells catastrophe”.

He called for immediate global action toward net-zero emissions, which “must start with the polluted heart of the climate crisis: the fossil fuel industry.”

Leave coal in the ground

Countries must progressively phase out fossil fuels, “moving to leave oil, coal and gas in the ground where they belong”, and massively boost investment in renewable energy, he said.

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The UN chief has previously proposed establishing a Climate Solidarity Pact under which rich nations would support emerging economies with cutting emissions.

Another proposal for an Acceleration Agenda calls on governments to phase out coal by 2040, end public and private international coal funding, and shift subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables, among other measures.

 ‘A special responsibility’

“But the fossil fuel industry and its enablers have a special responsibility,” he said, noting the record “$4 trillion windfall” in income last year.

“Yet for every dollar it spends on oil and gas drilling and exploration, only four cents went to clean energy and carbon capture combined. Trading the future for 30 pieces of silver is immoral,” he said.

Lead the transition

Mr. Guterres stressed that the fossil fuel industry should apply its massive resources “to drive, not obstruct” the global transition to renewable energy.

The industry currently “is not even reaching the very low operational emissions reductions targets it has set for itself,” he said.

He called for fossil fuel companies to present credible, comprehensive and detailed new transition plans that include reducing emissions “up and down the value chain” – from production through to refining, distribution and use.

Plans must also establish clear, near-term targets towards the transition to ‘green’ energy.


Don’t ‘knee-cap’ progress

“Fossil fuel companies must also cease and desist influence peddling and legal threats designed to kneecap progress.  I am thinking particularly of recent attempts to subvert net zero alliances, invoking anti-trust legislation,” he said.

“Governments are pivotal in setting the record straight.  They must help by providing clear reassurance. Collective climate action does not violate anti-trust – it upholds the public trust,” he added.

The UN chief also called for detailed plans from financial institutions, saying they must encourage the global energy transformation.

Plans should include an explicit strategy to progressively strip out fossil fuel assets from their portfolios to ensure alignment with the net-zero goal. All lobbying and policy engagement also should be disclosed.

“Financial institutions everywhere must end lending, underwriting, and investments in coal anywhere – including new coal infrastructure, power plants, and mines,” he said.

“And they must commit to end financing and investment in exploration for new oil and gas fields, and expansion of oil and gas reserves – investing instead in the just transition in the developing world.”