The Gameplan: Cop 26 to Cop 28
2021 served as a strong warning to the rest of the planet that climate change is not coming anytime soon. It's already here, and it's gaining momentum, and no country is safe. The latest IPCC research warns that unless greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced, global warming will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030.
What we've seen over the last year should serve as a wake-up call to everyone, especially world leaders, who still believe we have time on our hands in the face of climate change. Some of this decade's deadliest climatic disasters occurred in 2021, taking away goods and life and creating billion-dollar losses.
According to a recent analysis by Christian Aid, the ten most devastating weather events last year cost a total of $170 billion in damages.
In the US alone, Hurricane Ida, a tropical storm that pounded most of the eastern coast in August 2021, cost the lives of around 95 people and wiped $65 billion from the country’s economy.
According to information provided by the UK charity Christian Aid, floods in Europe have resulted in 240 deaths and a $43 billion economic loss. In July, floods in China's Henan province killed over 300 people and cost more than $17 billion.
To counteract this threat, global communities led by inspired, forward-thinking leaders must come together. During Cop 26, everyone realized that true change begins with us, but we've only seen plans, agreements, and a lot of non-binding commitments thus far. Plans are good, but it’s now time for action.
Our attempts to curb climate change have clearly fallen short. There are, however, certain activities that may be performed to demonstrate improvement. We must concentrate on what we can do right now and eliminate any obstacles that prevent us from meeting our decarbonization goals. The need for immediate action to avert global disaster is more urgent than ever.
Several Middle Eastern nations have experienced extreme heatwaves during 2021. Intense temperatures and severe droughts have afflicted the region, causing forest fires and heat-related deaths to become more common. Worse still, this is simply the beginning of a trend. Temperatures across the Middle East are rising twice as fast as the rest of the world, and by 2050, it is forecast to be 4 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1.5-degree boundary set by experts to rescue mankind.
Fortunately, we've already taken positive steps in the right direction by launching green hydrogen pilot projects in the Middle East, such as the region's first solar-powered hydrogen electrolysis facility with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), demonstrating the commercialization potential of hydrogen as a carbon-free solution.
Our Haru Oni project in Chile is the first industrial-scale integrated facility in the world to create climate-neutral e-fuels.
More initiatives like these are needed all around the world. That will take time, and as time is our most limited resource, we must embrace interim solutions to assist us in reducing emissions. Natural gas is one approach to achieve this because it emits two-thirds less CO2 than coal when used to generate power.
The Middle East can play a key role in guaranteeing the world's security of inexpensive gas supply while simultaneously lowering its carbon cost through increased efficiency and reduced emissions. Green hydrogen technologies can be increasingly integrated into natural gas infrastructure and be leveraged to further reduce emissions and pave the way for a carbon neutral energy system.
When it comes to establishing a green hydrogen business, renewable energy is critical. We have solid strategies in place and have made significant progress over the last year. However, in order to see a growth in large-scale renewable projects, severe supply chain constraints must be addressed. Due to supply bottlenecks, some multi-gigawatt projects in the region have stalled or stopped entirely.
A greater distribution of solar technology and manufacturing centers throughout the world could help to address this issue and assure competitive price and availability of solar PV products. This will need the development of a competitive ecosystem for regional manufacturing by investors and regional entrepreneurs.
Establish the tax
On the other hand, businesses and governments must move quickly to guarantee that the world agrees to carbon reduction objectives. The imposition of a carbon tax is one way to ensure that this happens. If correctly implemented, such a tax will reduce pollution, encourage investment and innovation in clean technology, as well as serve a key role in making investments long-term feasible.
It's akin to the 'polluter pays principle,' which was enshrined in international law at the Rio Summit in 1992. Simply put entities that cause environmental harm should be held responsible for the entire societal cost of their activities.
Most significantly, we must form new coalitions inside corporations and stakeholder communities in order to rescue our world. Large CO2 polluters must set aside their rivalries and competitive aspirations to collaborate and share best practices on how to decarbonize their industries as rapidly as feasible. We will only be able to go forward when we stop thinking in competing silos and start thinking as a community.
The United Arab Emirates will host Cop 28 in two years, and Siemens Energy is confident that by then we will have made more progress than we have in recent years. It is feasible to exceed our goals. We just need to get started on putting our plans into action.
In the meantime, events such as the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, are significant opportunities to bring together decision-makers and leaders, accelerate collaborative activities, and raise additional public awareness about the most pressing issue of our time: sustainability.