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Countries in the Arabian Peninsula could see their economic growth hit by around 70% by 2100 if more stringent action is not taken to combat climate change, a report from Christian Aid has found.

Saudi Arabia, COP host the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait are the economies most under threat.

Even if temperature rise is limited to 1.5C, economies in the region could see GDP growth cut by more than a third by the end of the century.

The report recommends phasing out fossil fuels, which account for 75% of all greenhouse gas emissions, tripling renewable energy capacity and investing in a just energy transition.

The report comes during the final days of COP28, when heated negotiations are taking place on whether or not to phase out or phase down the use of fossil fuels. Gulf states, along with a number of powerful economies including the US, China, India and Russia, are currently against using the phrase ‘phase out’ in the final agreed text.

Impact on GDP growth (%)

Country 1.5C by 2050 2C by 2050 1.5C by 2100 3C by 2100
Saudi Arabia -8.4 -12.5 -37.4 -72
UAE -8.5 -12.2 -37.8 -71.6
Kuwait -8.8 -12.4 -39.7 -71.2
Qatar -8.1 -11.9 -37.3 -69.6
Oman -8.3 -10.9 -35.2 -67.3
Iraq -6.8 -9.5 -33.5 -62
Yemen -5.2 -7.7 -25.5 -52.1
Jordan -3.2 -4.5 -16.6 -37.7

‘Threat to life’

The 70% growth hit is based on global temperatures rising by 3C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. They have already risen by 1.2C and, according to Climate Action Tracker, under current policies and actions are due to rise between 2.2C-3.4C by the end of the century.

The report highlights the fact that the Arabian Peninsula is one of the hottest places on earth and home to four of the world’s top ten oil producers – Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the UAE and Kuwait. The per capita emissions of these countries are, therefore, among the highest in the world. The UAE, for example, emits around 26 tonnes of CO2 per person, about five times the global average.

The report argues that to “avoid economic hardship”, Gulf nations should agree to phase out fossil fuels at COP28. Echoing a pledge already signed by around 120 nations at COP, it also recommends tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency. It also advocates for “richer countries to increase investment in clean energy around the world”.

“This year is set to be the hottest on record and fossil fuels are directly to blame”, said Joab Okanda, Senior Climate Advisor, Christian Aid. “For people living in places already facing extreme heat, like the Arabian Peninsula, continued growth of the fossil fuel industry is a threat to life.  

“Vulnerable people around the world have been calling for a phase out of fossil fuels for many years and until now the issue has been brushed under the carpet at COP summits.  That needs to end here in the UAE.”