The coronavirus pandemic has introduced a significant factor of uncertainty into policymaking worldwide. For climate change policy, it is a major potential accelerator disruptor!
Globally, the pandemic also pushed climate change down on the international agenda. The health response and efforts to bring economies back to their pre-pandemic state have dominated the discourse on many national agendas.
According to a landmark UN assessment published on Monday, global warming has arrived with a vengeance and will see Earth’s average temperature reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels around 2030, a decade earlier than projected only three years ago.
However, the Sultanate has embarked on serious structural reforms and transformative policies to lay the groundwork for a low carbon economy and shift to low-emission sustainable development pathways over the last five years.
The country has developed a comprehensive Oman Vision 2040 policy to further liberalise and diversify the economy by increasing investments in tourism, financial services and port logistics.
The Government Carbon Control Target Plan is rooted in the Oman Vision 2040 and the National Energy Strategy to support a gradual transition to a low carbon economy and an energy matrix significantly lower in carbon emission by 2030.
According to Oman’s Second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), at the end of July last, climate change is at the forefront of public and government consciousness due to the accelerated pace of Changing climatic patterns being experienced in the Sultanate.
“Despite the still considerable uncertainty around the ultimate course of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Sultanate continues to move ahead with the same determination to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development since its announcement in 2015’’, affirms the report.
Detailed climate simulation reveals that the Arabian Gulf and the Sultanate form a particular regional hotspot where climate change is likely to cross the survivability threshold in the absence of drastic carbon cuts.
Moreover, much of Oman’s population, infrastructure and economic activity are located in coastal zones and are vulnerable to sea-level rise, salt-water intrusion and more frequent extreme tropical cyclones.
The NDC report reveals that the energy sector emitted the most greenhouse gases in 2015, making up 64 per cent of total emissions, primarily due to the emissions from the oil and gas, transportation and electricity generation using natural gas and diesel.
The second-largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter with 30 per cent of the total nationwide emission is the industry. Over the period 2000-2015, Oman’s economic carbon intensity increased slightly from 1.1 to 1.4 Kg CO2 per US dollar of output, and the emission of the CO2 equivalent per capita reached 22.9 tonnes in 2015.
According to the report, the massive deployment of renewable energy and the deepening of energy efficiency actions are the pillars of the 2030 carbon control plan in the Sultanate.
The National Energy Strategy has set an ambitious target to derive 20 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2027. Over the period 2021-2027, the renewable energy plan aimed to secure at least 2,660 MW.
The National Energy strategy further enhances the gas-fired plant’s overall energy efficiency in conjunction with the clean energy plans. The energy efficiency of the gas fired plants’ has improved by 13 per cent between 2004 and 2015 (from 26 per cent in 2005 to 39 per cent in 2015). Between 2015 and 2020, the improvement was even more significant at 15.63 per cent (from 39 per cent in 2015 to 55 per cent in 2020).
From 2017 to 2019, the Sultanate has established a strategic framework for engagement with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) through the country’s Programme on Climate Change initiatives and priorities.
Six thematic areas including water resources, agriculture, marine and fisheries, urban areas, health and energy efficiency) have been identified in the country engagement programme for the GCF to finance over the medium-term. It has prepared the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) proposal with GCF from 2018-2020.