The ABCC held a business forum under the title of Towards a Greener Future bringing together a panel of experts from the UK and Arab World to share insights into aspects of the green economy.
Speakers explained that achieving a greener future meant major transformation of energy, water, food security, climate and virtually all sectors.
The Greener Future business forum took place as a hybrid event with speakers participating in person and online.
In welcoming remarks, Mr Bandar Reda, ABCC Secretary General & CEO, described sustainable economy and renewable energy as vital for the future of everyone and our children. The Rt Hon Baroness Symons, ABCC Chairman, reiterated these comments in her remarks.
Chairing the session, Mr Abdeslam El-Idrissi, ABCC Deputy CEO & Secretary General, said that panel would be addressing key topics brought into focus by COP26.
The discussion was a preliminary to ABES 2022 which would be looking beyond COP26 and forwards to COP27 and COP28, which were both planned to be held in the Arab world.
These international summits were having an impact on how business was conducted across the entire range of economic activities.
The question of a greener future touched on areas of energy, water, food security, climate and the sectors that were transforming the economy of the future.
Professor Upal Wijayantha, Head of the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems at Cranfield University, made the opening speech which began by describing his twenty year involvement in developing green energy solutions.
He had been among a team of experts responsible for developing a masterplan for a UK hydrogen strategy.
Prof Upal spoke of a growing public awareness of the urgency of the climate challenge. He recalled speaking more than a decade ago at a conference in the Gulf on the theme of moving beyond oil when renewables like solar power were not so widely appreciated as they are at present.
By contrast, today countries like Saudi Arabia were leading players in the development of green solutions, he said. He believed that the younger generation including those in the Arab world were eager to find green solutions to reduce the impact of human activities in the environment.
Prof Upal had worked on drawing up a detailed ten point plan for green growth in the Midlands which had included participants from both the public and private sectors.
The proposals had examined the advantages of sustainable solutions to the main economic activities and had considered hybrid transport policies, the use of sustainable building materials in construction and the impact on such activities on the natural landscape.
Green innovation could assist industry to adapt to meet the climate challenge that we all confront, Prof Upal stated.
The issues of water supply, energy, waste management and transport all posed distinct challenges shared by the Arab world and the UK.
The second speaker was Courtney Lowrance, Managing Director, Sustainable & Corporate Transitions, citi, global investment bank and financial services company.
She argued that the MENA region had a strategic part to play in the global energy transition.
She envisaged a strong role for the region’s sovereign wealth funds in investing in future renewable energy and acknowledged that the high oil prices meant that there was more investment available for projects at locally and internationally.
The race to meet the net zero ambitions had been a signal to the financial services industry that green solutions required proper financing. As a result, there was a growing awareness of the opportunities that were emerging in the drive to achieve sustainability.
Dr Daniel Klier, CEO, ESG Book, a data and technology company, said that green solutions were now a mainstream concern among investors and estimated that assets to the value of $100 trillion were needed to carry out the transition to a net zero economy.
Currently sustainability was being integrated into policy at government and regulatory levels, Dr Klier stated, opening up the potential for profitable growth.
Despite the emerging possibilities there remained a need for the adoption of a single sustainability standard to assess whether public declarations of green credentials were being implemented in reality.
Speaking to the meeting online from Egypt, Mr Ahmed Zahran, CEO & Co-founder, Karmsolar, explained how his company had developed a successful business model for the growth of solar power generation to supply Egyptian customers within the framework of the country’s subsidised energy market.
The Egyptian government had made land available for the establishment of solar installations which had enabled investment to flow into solar innovations, Mr Zahran said.
He signalled that company was now looking to ways that the successful model could be applied in other countries and was seeking formulas that would meet the requirements in different markets.
Dr Raed Bkayrat, from Kuwaiti based Alternative Energy Projects (AEPCo), presented an overview of the various steps to achieve net zero targets taken by the Gulf countries.
The forthcoming COP27 to be hosted by Egypt and COP28 to be hosted by the UAE provided a sharper focus for the regional activities. One key driver for the growth of renewables was the growing demand for energy by industry and domestic users.
Regional trends show that oil was becoming less dominant while solar was rising in importance. Major investment was needed to achieve the energy transition that countries had pledged to deliver.
The need to develop an effective grid to organise supply and demand around the region also offered an important investment opportunity.
Mr Mohammed Waleed Ayoub, Regional Commercial Director at GE Renewable Energy, discussed some of the main trends that are reshaping the energy sector in the drive towards a sustainable future. There was an eagerness in the region to adapt to meet the new priorities demanded by climate change.
Mr Ayoub stated that revised regulatory frameworks had opened up new opportunities for smaller innovative energy suppliers to enter the market. The Arab world was grasping the opportunities created by new technology and was ready to benefit from the technical innovations that were transforming the energy sector.