CDM Prospects in Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East and North Africa region is highly susceptible to climate change, on account of its water scarcity, high dependence on climate-sensitive agriculture, concentration of population and economic activity in urban coastal zones, and the presence of conflict-affected areas. Moreover, the region is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions on account of its thriving oil and gas industry.

The world’s dependence on the Middle East energy resources has caused the region to have some of the largest carbon footprints per capita worldwide. Not surprisingly, the carbon emissions from UAE are approximately 55 tons per capita, which is more than double the US per capita footprint of 22 tons per year. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is now gearing up to meet the challenge of global warming, as with the rapid growth of the carbon market. During the last few years, many MENA countries, like UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have unveiled multi-billion dollar investment plans in the cleantech sector to portray a ‘green’ image.

There is an urgent need to foster sustainable energy systems, diversify energy sources, and implement energy efficiency measures. The clean development mechanism (CDM), under the Kyoto Protocol, is one of the most important tools to support renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives in the MENA countries. Some MENA countries have already launched ambitious sustainable energy programs while others are beginning to recognize the need to adopt improved standards of energy efficiency.

Among regional countries, the United Arab Emirates has launched several ambitious governmental initiatives aimed at reducing emissions by approximately 40 percent. Masdar, a $15 billion future energy company, will leverage the funds to produce a clean energy portfolio, which will then invest in clean energy technology across the Middle East and North African region. Egypt is the regional CDM leader with twelve projects in the UNFCCC pipeline and many more in the conceptualization phase.

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is an attractive CDM destination as it is rich in renewable energy resources and has a robust oil and gas industry. Surprisingly, very few CDM projects are taking place in MENA countries with only 23 CDM projects have been registered to date. The region accounts for only 1.5 percent of global CDM projects and only two percent of emission reduction credits.

The two main challenges facing many of these projects are: weak capacity in most MENA countries for identifying, developing and implementing carbon finance projects and securing underlying finance. Currently, there are several CDM projects in progress in Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Morocco, UAE and Tunisia.

The Al-Shaheen project is the first of its kind in the region and third CDM project in the petroleum industry worldwide. The Al-Shaheen oilfield has flared the associated gas since the oilfield began operations in 1994. The project activity is expected to reduce GHGs emissions by approximately 2.5 million tCO2 per year and approximately 17 million tCO2 during the initial seven-year crediting period.

Potential CDM projects that can be implemented in the region may come from varied areas like sustainable energy, energy efficiency, waste management, landfill gas capture, industrial processes, biogas technology and carbon flaring. For example, the energy efficiency CDM projects in the oil and gas industry, can save millions of dollars and reduce tons of CO2 emissions. In addition, renewable energy, particularly solar and wind, holds great potential for the region, similar to biomass in Asia.

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About the Author 

Salman Zafar is a renowned expert in waste management, biomass energy, waste-to-energy and sustainable development. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environment.
Salman is the CEO of BioEnergy Consult, apart from being the Founder of Cleantech Solutions and EcoMENA.
Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biogas technology, biomass energy, waste-to-energy and solid waste management. He has participated in numerous national and international conferences and has authored many articles in reputed journals and magazines.
Salman can be reached at salman@bioenergyconsult.com or salman@cleantechloops.com.

3 thoughts on “CDM Prospects in Middle East and North Africa

  1. Glad to know that you liked the article. Currently there is no registered CDM project in Bahrain. However Masdar is pursuing several energy efficiency-related CDM projects in Bahrain oil and gas industry.

  2. Dear Salman,

    Nice to see your efforts in promoting cleaner technologies, climate change, green intiatives and particularly CDM in the region. You are absolutley right that there is huge potential for a range of activities but not much projects have been sucessfully implmented. I always wondered why these countries have not taken benefit from the CDM and used to pose this question to many friends from the region during my days in the UNFCCC secretariat. But never got a clear and satisfactory answer. Yes, now there is awareness and some initiatives but its already too late now.

    But must appreciate your efforts!

    Bilal Anwar (banwar@pjrces.com)

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