Arab governments aren't doing enough to combat climate change and need to amp up their efforts soon in order to join the fight against global warming, a recent report found.
Published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the study was discussed at the organization's biannual council meeting which was held in Abu Dhabi this week. Its findings revealed that lawmakers across the region must pass laws to increase spending on renewable energy sources to alleviate the destructive effects of climate change.
To meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, countries in the region should pay $148 billion each year until 2050, according to the report's author Elizabeth Press.
Though some of this sum was already being invested in renewable energy resources, funds put forth towards that weren't enough. Press explained that's because the battle isn't only about "renewable projects" but also centered around "energy efficiency, infrastructure and the grid."
Speaking at the IRENA's Abu Dhabi meet-up on Tuesday, the organization's director general, Francesco La Camera, addressed representatives from over 120 nations.
"With renewables, it is possible to mitigate climate change ... to enhance air quality, to improve human health and to create access to affordable energy," he said.
"We all know that transforming the global energy systems is difficult. But we also know it is possible. It is possible because there is a growing political will and public support to change," La Camera added.
Governments all around the world have to act fast
The 2015 Paris deal saw signatories including Arab countries agree to "cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade and reach net zero emissions by 2050."
Scientists warn that if countries fail to act on the agreement within the next 10 years, the world will face imminent temperature increases well above 1.5 degrees Celsius. If they do make the right moves, Press believes the planet can be saved.
"It absolutely can be done. Awareness is growing. The UAE is a fabulous example and the others are catching on," she said during IRENA's recent meet-up.
According to IRENA, Gulf countries spent only $1 billion on renewable energy in 2018; it's going to take a lot for that number to go up to $148 billion a year.
On the global front, an annual $3.2 trillion must be spent by 2050 to achieve the transition the planet desperately needs.
So what are Arab countries currently doing to battle climate change?
Though what's being done in the region isn't sufficient, some countries are faring better than others in the fight against climate change.
Morocco has proven to be an outlier in the fight against global warming in the Arab region. Earlier this year, the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) - which breaks down the efforts of 60 different countries in their fight against the phenomenon - ranked the North African country fourth on its list.
Morocco plans to care for 42 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020 and 52 percent by 2030. It also aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent within 15 years.
Saudi Arabia ranked at the bottom of the same list as it continues to be one of the major CO2 emitters per capita, with numbers equivalent to "15.94 tons per person." Though there have been some local initiatives aimed at rethinking how the country is dealing with the matter, Saudi officials haven't moved to adopt emission reduction targets.
When it comes to the UAE, officials are working hard on advancing its fight against global warming.
At the time being, the country generates less than 5 percent of its electricity through renewables. But that is set to increase in the next few years as the Gulf nation recently opened a solar plant in Sweihan.
Dubbed as the world's largest solar power project, the plant - which has been named Noor (light) - will help the UAE reach its goal of generating 44 percent of its power from clean energy by 2050.