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Muslim-majority countries look toward fossil fuel-free future

Many predominantly Muslim countries are rich in oil and gas. Even so, they are exploring renewable energy and green alternatives.

Some of the world’s richest oil and gas countries are starting to think about a fossil fuel-free future.

For many Muslim-majority countries, this may not be a pleasant exercise. After all, oil and gas have brought great wealth to countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, these same countries recognize the impact of climate change and seem to want to join the international effort to curb its effects.

As such, many Muslim majority countries recently agreed to put effort into developing new green technologies that will contribute to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries’ development plans relating to science, technology and innovation (STI).

One specific target: Reduce greenhouse gases through achieving a 10 percent share of renewable energy  for all OIC member countries by 2025.  This size of a transformation will require significant investment in energy infrastructure, energy efficiency and research & development.

A view of the turbines installed on the Bahrain World Trade Centre (BWTC) in Manama. REUTERS/Avantika Srivastava Ganjoo
A view of the turbines installed on the Bahrain World Trade Centre in Manama, Bahrain. REUTERS/Avantika Srivastava Ganjoo

Governments in many OIC countries have already begun putting in place policies to support growth in renewable energy.  For example, Saudi Arabia has set a target of 3.45 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2020.  Bahrain has established a Sustainable Energy Unit to work with the United Nations Development Programme to increase deployment of sustainable energy while the UAE has a target of 10 percent of total energy from renewables by 2030 – a target put in place before the OIC brought the issue on its radar.

Events such as the World Green Economy Summit build upon earlier efforts to foster the green economy within Muslim-majority countries.  For example, the Dubai Declaration for Sustainable Finance was launched less than a year ago during the United Nations Environment Programme – Finance Initiative’s (UNEP FI) Global Round Table held in Dubai. Today, it has 32 signatories within the UAE, from financial institutions committed to the growth of renewable energy.  In addition, First Abu Dhabi Bank became the first issuer of green bonds in the GCC.  Each of these notable firsts put the UAE at the forefront of the region and in a leading position within the OIC in the area of renewable energy.

Dubai has often been a leader for the rest of the UAE and for other OIC countries, so the further actions taken since the UAE’s energy target was set lead the way for other OIC countries to follow.  For example, Dubai Electricity & Water Authority set a world record for lowest-priced solar power with a cost of 2.99 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in 2016. That record was eventually surpassed in 2017 by Abu

Initiatives like the Dubai Declaration and financing structures like the project financing for the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which included an Islamic finance tranche, can help support the growth towards a greener, more innovative and more sustainable development of OIC countries.

Camels are seen in the early morning on a beach in the Marina area of Dubai. REUTERS/Steve Crisp

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