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Solutions to Help Arab Countries Reduce the Carbon Footprint

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There have been multiple attempts by Arab countries to help reduce the carbon footprint of the region that is well-known for being a hub for polluting resources like oil, coal and gas. While it may be harder for the region to implement these goals to tackle due to the industry taking a huge part of many of the Middle Eastern countries’ economies, several attempts have been made to perhaps decrease oil dependency and start an energy transition in the region, which would not only increase safety of their economies, but reduce horrific consequences like, temperature rises, air intoxication, multiple other health concerns due to intense heat, and limited water supplies and food supplies.

Some previous attempts to solve the issue include: the “Saudi Vision 2030” which was released by the Deputy Crown Prince which included planting more trees and investing over 30 billion dollars for renewables. Additionally, Majesty of Bahrain has released a plan called “Economic Vision 2030” which focuses on shifting away from oil dependency and move more towards renewable energy sources which is the main way to reduce the carbon footprint of the nation. Also, Bahrain started to implement stricter license controls to reduce pollution levels and increased concentration on protecting the environment from increased carbon emissions. Another country who has attempted to take initiative on the issue would be Oman with its “Vision 2020” which puts economic diversification as its main goal, by increasing renewables in their economy hence reducing the carbon footprint and to reduce production and overdependency on oil, which in turn helps reduce carbon emissions. Qatar has been heavily investing in new projects by planning on investing 500 million dollars in joint venture projects to increase solar power up to 16% of energy used in 2020. More goals the Qatari government has set are: reducing carbon emissions by 6mn tons, reduce water and electricity consumption by 35% and 25% to reduce burning of fossil fuels, and to have 10 GW of solar power by 2030. No other Middle Easter country has taken such initiative to this concerning problem more than the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is expected to build over 800,000 solar power run houses, build a whole city run solely on greener sources like solar and wind power (Masdar City), invest in over 134 billion pounds to have the most ambitious target of having renewable energy as 50% of the energy source in the country by 2050.

Possible Solutions

Carbon tax

The Carbon tax is a fee implemented on the usage and making of pollutant resources like oil, coal and gas depending on how much carbon it emits from combustion. The carbon tax is used in certain fuel industries in countries like Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Italy, Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland. These countries have seen a significant drop in carbon emissions since the introduction of the carbon tax. According to the ICIS, Denmark has reduced its carbon emissions by 14% since the early 2000s. The carbon tax in the Middle East might cause some controversies but would overall benefit the region massively and it would prevent multiple problems.

The carbon tax would reduce the budget deficit of a government as it would increase revenue of the government and reduce the need for increased income taxes on the population which would turn into a positive decision for both perspectives. Additionally, if this, new legislation is introduced in the Middle East, this would reduce oil imports and exports from businesses, and reduce carbon emissions from households as people would pay more attention to the amount of carbon they are emitting. Furthermore, the carbon tax would promote the usage of clean energy in the Middle East and reduce the reliance on non-renewable resources. Finally, a reduction in carbon emissions from the carbon tax would reduce the severe consequences of climate change.

This new legislation might have its negatives at first as it would reduce investments from businesses, with the Middle East being so heavily reliant on trade and business with oil and gas. Additionally, the carbon tax might cause an increase in tax evasion as some firms might not account the exact figures of its carbon emissions in order to pay less.

Renewable energy shift

An increase in renewable energy usage is the best way to reduce carbon emissions of a country. This would result in a reduction of carbon emissions from industries, households and transportation. There are plenty of ways for the Middle East to increase renewable energy sources like increased governmental spending on renewable sources. Renewable resources are unlimited; however some regions have a very little potential for renewable energy, but that is not the case for the Middle East. The Middle East enjoys clear skies and sunny, hot weather most of the year and would be the perfect hub for solar power. Solar power could reduce electricity bills, has low maintenance costs and most importantly is a clean, renewable source. Solar energy is so powerful that in one hour, there is more solar energy radiated on the earth in an hour then the energy the world consumes in a year.

With the unstable oil prices, depletion of the non-renewable resources, and the severe consequences of increased carbon footprint from increased activity with pollutant resources, this has led some Middle Eastern countries to start taking action to reduce the carbon footprint of the region. An increase in renewable energy would decrease dependence on oil which is the major reason carbon emissions are so high.

Some countries in the UAE have started taking action towards this problem by building 800,000 solar power run houses, investing over 150 billion USD, and reduce the dependency on oil just like the UAE by making it only 1% of its GDP.

Implementation of subsidies

In economic terms, subsidies are when governments pay a percentage of the cost of production of a company and it is seen as a form of financial aid. Subsidies are an economic way for governments to encourage production of goods and services from companies by reducing the cost of production and help lower the costs for the renewable sources as companies would not need to increase the prices for the public due to cheaper cost of production of this technology. Using the law of demand in Economics; when price is decreased, demand is increased. This would increase both supply and demand and raise capital and popularity for the renewable energy industry which would be one of the ways to reduce the usage of hydrocarbons due to the products having higher prices then the renewables. An increase in demand for renewables and a decrease in demand for oil, gas and coal, would overall reduce the carbon footprint by a mile.

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