Climate change has been a major concern of Middle Eastern communities. The region has also grappled with the associated threats of environmentally destructive human activities and excessive resource exploitation.
The risks posed by climate change are very tangible in the Middle East. The prospect of extended droughts, frequent sandstorms, and rapidly rising temperatures – projected to increase by 5 degrees Celsius by 2100 – places the region’s 400 million inhabitants in growing jeopardy.
The region can emerge as a key player in the development of innovative solutions that significantly contribute to the fight against climate change.
Projects and Investment in the Middle East
The Potential Leaders in Renewable Energy, UAE, and Saudi Arabia
UAE and Saudi Arabia are two leaders in technology and the economy in the Middle East. They can extend their influence beyond the region when it comes to addressing climate change.
A key factor is that both Middle Eastern nations have consistently demonstrated a willingness to complement financial investments with a substantial investment of political influence in sustainability initiatives. This is evident in their promotion of legislation favorable to renewables and their government initiatives, such as substantial solar and hydrogen facility tenders.
A concrete example of government leadership translating into tangible action on climate change is the commitment by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE President, to allocate $50 billion toward renewable energy solutions, both domestically and abroad, in 2022. A significant portion of these funds is designated for projects in support of the UAE Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap. This project is an ambitious strategy aimed at positioning the country as a leading producer and exporter of green and blue hydrogen.
The Saudi Green Initiative, launched in March 2021, represents a remarkable plan aimed at advancing environmental conservation, energy transition, and economic sustainability within the country. It includes various initiatives, such as improving urban air quality, cutting carbon emissions, and planting 10 billion trees.
RISE2030 is a grassroots initiative based in Beirut with a core focus on empowering women and youth to enhance the quality of life in Lebanon’s most underprivileged areas. Their efforts revolve around education, employment, and empowerment. Lebanon has faced significant challenges in the past two years due to the enduring impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the catastrophic explosion in August 2020, which rendered over 300,000 families homeless.
Throughout these crises, RISE2030 has been at the forefront of response efforts while simultaneously launching a series of sustainability projects. In 2019, a group of thirteen women trainees successfully installed a solar system at a waste sorting and material recovery facility located in Qaraoun, situated 85 kilometers southeast of Beirut. This initiative, led by women, not only addressed solar training but was also duplicated in North Lebanon and Mount Lebanon as part of the Women Economic Empowerment Project in collaboration with The Embassy of Canada and the United Nations Development Fund.
Middle Eastern countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE have made huge investments and launched different projects to fight climate change in the region.