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UAE energy professionals expect region to face escalating climate risks but are optimistic about meeting targets


New independent research into the views of the UAE’s energy professional community reveals a mixture of concern about the threats posed by climate change and the global energy transition, tempered with optimism about meeting nationally-set targets on emissions reduction and energy diversification.

Published today, and in advance of COP28 opening later this week, Energy Barometer 2023: UAE in transition is a research project led by the UAE volunteer committee of the Energy Institute, the professional membership body for people who work across the world of energy.

Key messages arising from the research:

  1. A majority of participants fear climate change will pose a greater threat to the way of life in the UAE by 2050 compared to elsewhere in the world, with rising temperatures and shorter winters that create harsher working conditions cited as the two biggest concerns.
  2. As the pace of the global transition to low carbon accelerates, they also identify risks to the UAE economy associated with dependence on fossil fuel markets and higher than global average energy consumption intensity.
  3. There is confidence in the prospects of meeting targets designed to counter these risks. More than 60% expect the UAE to meet or exceed its 2030 emission reduction goal (a cut of 40% on BAU); a similar proportion believe the UAE will meet or exceed its 2050 energy diversification goal (50% of total energy from renewables and nuclear).
  4. The UAE is seen as well-funded to make the necessary investments in clean energy, including financing renewable energy and low carbon hydrogen, though there are calls for greater clarity around the policies, regulations and market mechanisms required.
  5. Energy efficiency is singled out as the opportunity area that needs the most focus and investment in the UAE, with particular reference to demand management in air conditioning, water consumption and desalination, as well as less carbon-intensive production and use of oil and gas.

EI Middle East Honorary Chair, Dr Waddah Ghanem Al Hashmi FEI, said:

“As the world’s eyes turn to Dubai for COP28, the Energy Barometer is a window on the views of the Energy Institute’s members and others working across the host nation’s vital field of energy.

“Here in the UAE, we have a long way to travel on the road to net zero, but the Barometer reveals a workforce highly cognisant of the escalating risks of not doing so, and optimistic about meeting the targets set, and capitalising on the opportunities.”

Chair of EI Young Professionals, Middle East and Associate Director, ESG Advisory at KPMG, Shahda Al Taie AMEI, said:

“The energy industry has made significant contributions to society in the past, and, with the growing risks to our way of life and economy, it’s clear that energy players need to do so again, but in a different way.  

“Embracing the insights provided in the Barometer could position the UAE as a blueprint for fostering the energy transition not only within the Gulf states but also on a global scale. This paradigm shift holds promise for a sustainable future - one that resonates with the evolving needs of the younger generation.”

Juliet Davenport OBE HonFEI, EI President, said:

“The optimism expressed by Barometer participants about meeting the UAE’s emission and energy targets is refreshing, compared for example to the doubts expressed by their peers in the UK context. But they are clear that more needs to be done, in particular, given the UAE’s high per capita energy intensity, to tap into the huge potential of energy efficiency.”

Dr Nick Wayth CEng FEI, EI CEO, said:

“The granularity of the picture set out in the Barometer contrasts with some of the more simplistic generalisations about the UAE and its Presidency of COP28. His Excellency Dr Sultan Al Jaber and his team have an opportunity to build new bridges among diverse nations, and we look forward to seeing real leadership over the coming weeks and beyond.”

Just over 100 professionals from across the UAE’s energy sector contributed to the project between May and November this year, via surveys, interviews and panel discussions. They are drawn from the EI’s fellowship and professional membership, through to its young professional and student community, and from across sectors, from oil and gas to renewables, energy and carbon management, hydrogen, waste-to-energy and carbon capture and storage. Participants engaged with the research team anonymously and independently of their employers.

Notes for editors

  1. For media enquiries, please contact Neil Michie, EI Head of Communications and Marketing 020 7467 7132,
  2. The EI will be hosting a discussion session, In search of the energy transition, about the Energy Barometer and other EI original content in the Green Zone at COP28 in Dubai Expo City on Monday 4 December. The session is unticketed but a pass for the Green Zone for that day is required, available here.
  3. The Energy Barometer is the EI’s long-running, annual research report based on the views and perspectives of its members and other experts in energy in different parts of the world. Energy Barometer 2023: UAE in transition is published at UAE time 0001 on 27 November. The Energy Barometer is available here.
  4. The EI plays a crucial role in attracting, developing and equipping the diverse future energy workforce. With a focus on the Middle East, and in partnership with world-leading business school Hult / EF, we are introducing a new Executive Leadership in Energy Programme for high-performers on a fast track towards future leadership roles within the energy sector. More information is here.
  5. The Energy Institute (EI)is the chartered professional membership body for people who work across the world of energy. Our purpose is to create a better energy future for our members and society by accelerating a just global energy transition to net zero. We do this by attracting, developing and equipping the diverse future energy workforce; informing energy decision-making through convening expertise and advice; and enabling industry and consumers to make energy lower carbon, safer and more efficient. @EnergyInstitute