- Special Pages
Yvo De Boer (right), Special Global Adviser on Climate Change and Sustainability, KPMG, addressing a seminar in Doha. (Salim Matramkot)
By Azmat Haroon
Doha: People in the Gulf region do not value water even though massive amounts of energy are used to desalinate it.
Although the GCC countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE, have drafted major national policies on sustainability, there is a general lack of understanding among the people on how to use energy, Yvo De Boer, KPMG’s special global adviser, said during a seminar last week.
With the UN Climate change conference (COP 18/CMP8) scheduled to be held in Doha in November-December, KPMG, an international audit firm, held a session to discuss some of the global trends and initiatives in the field of climate change and sustainability.
“Rather than burning the main commodity that you have in an inefficient and unnecessary way, I think there are massive things that can be done in terms of energy efficiency — not only in ways the oil and gas industry operates, but perhaps more significantly in terms of how people consume energy in this part of the world,” De Boer said.
Giving the example of Saudi Arabia, which is becoming an importer of fossil fuels as opposed to being its exporter, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) said that massive amounts of energy were being wasted in this region.
“For the Gulf region, it is very important to understand how energy is being used and how water is being used. These are just two of the many issues to understand better how efficiencies can be introduced into these sectors of the economy,” De Boer told The Peninsula on the sidelines of the seminar.
He said that even if the world very aggressively decides to engage on climate change, the demand for fossil fuel will continue to grow around the world, and that there is no question of Gulf countries running out of customers for oil and gas.
A majority of large listed companies in the GCC region do not have sustainability strategy in place, with only 11 percent of them having adapted energy efficient policies, says a survey by KPMG.
The percentage is remarkably low for the Gulf region compared to Europe and the Americas, where 95 percent and 85 percent companies have taken up energy efficient strategies respectively.
The study is based on the data available on the 75 largest listed entities in the region by KPMG.
“The most critical step is to understand what are the footprints of different countries in terms of energy use, water use, production of waste, and to basically assess whether there are opportunities to enhance the efficiency of the economy,” De Boer said, adding that there are many initiatives the Gulf countries can take in order to reduce cost and wastage on a national level.
KPMG’s Qatar-based partner and Head of Oil and Gas, Middle East and South Asia Region, Gopal Balasubramaniam, said that the firm would continue to host seminars on climate change post COP 18, in order to create awareness in the country.