China charts way with middle eastern countries on green development

Flag of China
Flag of China

The 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) is being held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), marking the Middle Eastern countries’ hosting of the UN climate summit for the second consecutive year, following last year’s COP27 held in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Just days before the COP28’s opening, the UAE announced the completion of its Al Dhafra Solar Project, which was constructed by Chinese companies.

The project will provide green electricity to 200,000 households, reduce 2.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions yearly, and raise the share of renewables in the UAE’s total energy mix to 13 percent.

China and many Middle Eastern countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Israel, Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, and Morocco, have been making bold efforts to cope with climate change by formulating timetables and roadmaps toward the carbon neutrality goal in line with the Paris Agreement.

Sharing a common vision in addressing climate risks, China and the Middle East have forged a solid foundation for cooperation on energy transition and green development, which has now become a model of South-South cooperation for sustainable development.

In January 2022, when the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Türkiye, and Iran, as well as the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, visited China, a consensus on green transition was achieved among the parties.

At the first China-Arab States Summit last December, China pledged to work with the Arab side to advance eight major cooperation initiatives in areas including green innovation, energy security, and others in the next three to five years.

The two sides also proposed a joint international research center to combat drought, desertification, and land degradation, as well as a cooperation center for renewable development, showing their strong determination to deepen bilateral climate cooperation.

Also, Chinese companies have been deeply involved in numerous large-scale energy projects in Middle Eastern countries, helping boost local energy transition by utilizing China’s experience and technology.

In Dubai, UAE’s largest city, China’s Harbin Electric Corporation contracted the first clean coal power plant project in the Middle East.

The plant comprises four units that will generate 600 megawatts each after completion, using ultra-supercritical technology. It is expected to provide 20 percent of Dubai’s total power use.

In May this year, Unit 4 of the project was successfully integrated into the national grid.

In Morocco, the third phase of the NOOR Concentrated Solar Power projects built by Chinese enterprises has become one of the world’s largest tower power plants, with a 160-megawatt installed capacity.

There are many others to list, such as Oman’s largest renewable energy project, the Ibri Solar Power project, and the world’s largest energy storage project on the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia.

In addition, China and the Middle East have witnessed deepened cooperation on green finance. A batch of Chinese financial institutions is setting foot in the Middle East and providing financial support for its green projects.

The Bank of China has financed the UAE’s Hassyan clean coal power plant project and Al Dhafra Solar Project. In October, it also issued the world’s first Belt and Road bonds valued at 770 million U.S. dollars to support qualified green projects of related countries.

Also, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has issued carbon neutrality bonds, with the amount of the bonds issued by its Dubai branch totaling 600 million dollars. These bonds are for low-carbon, green transportation, and renewable projects.

Martin Tricaud, head of the investment banking of the First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE’s largest lender, said the bank issued the first Chinese yuan green bond from the Middle East and North Africa region, stressing that China’s “dual carbon” goal and the UAE’s “Net Zero by 2050” strategic initiative synergize with each other.

Speaking to Xinhua at COP28, Ahmed Mohamed Mohina, Egypt’s vice minister of electricity and renewable energy, said China and the Middle East complement each other in renewable development and share great cooperation potential in relevant sectors. He expressed the hope that the two sides could further their climate cooperation.

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