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MENA report

Middle East and North Africa region has potential to lead as an exporter of low-carbon fuels, CATF report finds

May 24, 2022 Work Area: Carbon Capture, Super Pollutants, Zero-Carbon Fuels

A new report from Clean Air Task Force (CATF) explores the potential for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to position itself for leadership in the growing global market for low-carbon hydrogen — and to enable technologies such as carbon capture and storage technology and near-zero methane emissions management. The report finds that, with the right policy and market conditions and international cooperation, the MENA region can achieve long-term economic and geopolitical success as a decarbonized energy supplier in a carbon-constrained world, while helping major fuel importers like Europe and other regions decarbonize their energy systems.  

“As global decarbonization efforts intensify and the geopolitical dynamics shift, the MENA region finds itself in a position of great opportunity,” said Olivia Azadegan, Energy Transition Director, MENA. “With its existing energy infrastructure and expertise, coupled with its access to energy markets in Europe, Africa, and Asia, the region can transform itself into a global provider of low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia, and a leader in carbon capture and storage technology and upstream methane emissions controls. The report highlights this opportunity and provides clear guidance on what the MENA region can do to seize it.”  

The report, Poised to Lead: How the Middle East and North Africa Can Accelerate the Global Energy Transition, identifies five barriers that are causing hesitancy towards the wide-scale production of low-carbon hydrogen in the MENA region, finding that concerted policy action will be critical to addressing each of the following impediments: 

  1. A lack of meaningful demand for low-carbon hydrogen outside of the industrial sector 
  1. A lack of economic incentives to build out carbon capture and storage infrastructure 
  1. A lack of a regulatory requirements to reduce carbon dioxide and methane emissions, including the lack of a carbon price 
  1. A lack of procedures for analyzing, reducing, and certifying the carbon dioxide and methane emissions from the production of zero-carbon fuels 
  1. Challenges to financing the higher cost of capital and lower returns compared to the traditional fuel supply business

The report also finds that, on the supply side, a more cooperative, deliberate effort from stakeholders across the MENA region will be needed to cultivate the low-carbon hydrogen production ecosystem and develop the required infrastructure. On the demand side, policy and market signals from Europe and other regions will need to be clear and coordinated to help jumpstart the MENA market. 

Azadegan continued: “The science is clear. We must decarbonize the global economy to address climate change, and transitioning to low-emission hydrogen is essential to making that possible. We must start building the necessary infrastructure to enable that transition today, and having the proper policy support is critical to moving at the scale and pace required. 

With countries in the Gulf region signalling their desire to play a key role in producing low-carbon fuels, there is a huge opportunity to start to move in this direction. But we need to build the bridge to that future from both sides. Europe and other economies must make clear that the demand is there and that low-carbon hydrogen will be integral to their energy mixes, working with stakeholders in the region to put in place the right policy and market framework to ensure they can meet that demand.” 

Low-carbon hydrogen plays a significant role in many decarbonization pathways put forward by both the Integrated Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA). They can help decarbonize difficult-to-electrify sectors like heavy industry, marine shipping, and transportation, as well as play a role in decarbonizing the electric power sector. The IEA predicts that global hydrogen use must increase nearly 500% by 2050 to reach net-zero emissions. 


Press Contacts

Troy Shaheen, Communications Director, U.S., Clean Air Task Force, tshaheen@catf.us, +1 845-750-1189

Rowan Emslie, Communications Director, Europe, Clean Air Task Force, remslie@cleanairtaskforce.org,  +32 476 97 36 42

About Clean Air Task Force

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world.  

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