Are Net-Zero Pledges in the MENA ambitions enough?

Following the UNFCCC MENA Climate Week earlier this year, more companies in the region have announced their net-zero pledges. However, despite being one of the regions most affected by the climate crisis, action compared to global sustainability initiatives worldwide is still behind. As of right now, green agendas and net-zero plans are being put in place by the GCC countries, most notably by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Despite public sectors’ efforts, action by private companies remains minimal.

The MENA region will soon welcome the next two COPs 27&28 in Egypt and United Arab Emirates, consecutively. For this reason, as a victim of climate change’s harshest consequences and a host to the concern’s biggest conferences, the region’s private sector must focus on implementing sustainable actions, carbon reductions, and an innovative transformation in their operations that will allow them to achieve net-zero.

The hosting of COP will welcome a renewed focus on the region and its initiatives in tackling climate change. For this reason, further regulatory pressure will be implemented on net-zero pledges and carbon reduction targets.  To minimize risk and optimize opportunities, private companies in the region must begin acting upon their pledges prior to the passing of new regulations. The transition from a heavy reliance on hydrocarbon to more sustainable economies which GCC governments aim for, must be supported from local and private companies. There has been heavy advertisement on the net-zero pledges set by countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, and Iraq but little to no meaningful action taken to achieve them.

Now more than ever, ambition must be replaced by duty. The region could no longer afford postponing action. If it does not start now, it won’t achieve their 2050 targets. Out of the ten countries producing the highest amount of carbon emissions per capita, five are located in the Middle East, and all six GCC countries are in the top fifteen. The region’s reliance on fossil fuels makes it seem like a net-zero world is merely an unthinkable dream, however through the right consultations, measures, metrics and actions, the region can achieve it’s net-zero pledges while continuing to being economic leaders. As mentioned, governments like the UAE and Saudi Arabia have released their detailed plans to achieve net-zero as nations. Private sectors’ role in such plans starts by seeking the correct consultations and advisory providers to evaluate their current operations and build the correct strategies while providing the most effective recommendations to achieve net-zero while optimizing operations and increasing profits.

For instance, at Strive we have a specialized team advising MENA clients from different industries, most prominently Oil & Gas on how to cut emissions without compromising production. As an initial perception,  the term “net-zero” might seem a threat to revenue and daily operations, however with the right advisory team increasing production while curbing emissions is possible. This might seem costly, but the cost of suffering the consequences of climate change will be drastically higher. After reducing their own emissions and shifting production equipment from diesel-fueled machinery to electricity produced with renewables, companies must double investments in R&D carbon capture technology. Through this, the region will become an early pioneer in bench marking models for carbon capture projects and lead in an area within the global sustainability targets, rather than continuing to rank last.

Surely enough, to determine the extent of the private sector’s involvement in the national net-zero targets and identify the most impactful measures that need to be taken, the first step is to calculate footprints and disclose data.  At Strive, we help companies in the region calculate their scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions across all operations, offices, and factories. Climate-related disclosures are vital to a well-managed sustainability plan that abides by best-market practice. After calculations, we help MENA clients to set their ambitious SBTi targets or guide them on disclosing their environmental practices to CDP. As an ICROA’s Code of Best Practice adherent organization, we will ensure that your company abides by best-market practice and curb emissions to mitigate climate change. With all attention on the region, as it prepares to host COP there are unprecedented opportunities for private businesses to begin their race to net-zero.

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