Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, has urged Middle Eastern countries to accelerate their transition to clean energy. Birol pointed out that now is the right time to speed up the transition due to two key reasons: the region has the financial resources to diversify their economic programs as a result of high oil prices last year, and the upcoming UN climate summit, Cop28, represents a significant opportunity for the region. Birol emphasized that he is not suggesting that oil production be immediately reduced, but that the transition to clean energy needs to start.
The UAE's hosting of Cop28 was also mentioned by Birol, who sees this as a historic opportunity for the Middle East to demonstrate international responsibility as good global citizens. He believes the UAE has been a good example in terms of pushing the clean energy agenda, and he hopes that the leadership will show that Middle Eastern countries can transform their economies to be more sustainable in the future. Birol also spoke of the significance of having Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, as the Cop28 President-designate, stating that he has a role to play in showing the right way for Middle Eastern oil and gas producers to accelerate the clean energy transition.
Birol acknowledges that energy transition has already started in some countries in the region, but the pace is very slow for the Middle East as a whole. He stresses that the transition to clean energy is not only important in the fight against climate change, but also for individual economies that are dependent on oil and gas revenues. Birol expects oil prices to remain stable in the immediate future, while recognizing that how Opec+ moves and China's economy are two key variables.