Chatham House Report

Glada Lahn, Paul Stevens and Felix Preston

The systemic waste of oil and gas in the Gulf is eroding economic resilience to shocks and increasing security risks, including to citizens' health. Success or failure in setting and meeting sustainable energy goals in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will have a global impact. 

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  • The systemic waste of oil and gas in the Gulf is eroding economic resilience to shocks and increasing security risks, including to citizens' health. Success or failure in setting and meeting sustainable energy goals in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will have a global impact.
     
  • The six GCC countries - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the UAE and Bahrain - now consume more primary energy than the whole of Africa. Yet they have just one twentieth of that continent’s population. Energy intensity in the region is high and rising in contrast to other industrialized regions and is driven by systemic inefficiencies.  
     
  • Almost 100% of energy in the region is produced from oil and gas without carbon dioxide abatement, and water security is increasingly dependent on energy-driven desalination. If the region’s fuel demand were to continue rising as it has over the last decade, it would double by 2024. This is a deeply undesirable prospect for both the national security of each state and the global environment. 
     
  • The report proposes specific measures that should be investigated at the GCC level, including the potential for setting common prices for electricity trading and fuel. Countries should cooperate to establish common appliance efficiency standards for buildings, appliances and vehicles, with air conditioning a priority area. Establishing a common buildings code and building materials standard could bring step changes in energy and water efficiency. This would reduce costs for each country and allow the region to punch above its weight internationally in emissions reduction commitments.

This is the first report to offer practical recommendations that address the key challenges of governance, political commitment and market incentives from a GCC-wide perspective. It draws on the results of two years of research and workshops in the region, with representatives of over 60 local institutions with a critical interest in and influence over domestic energy. 

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