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The Pathway to a Green Gulf: A Review and Analysis of the Evolution of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates’ Climate Change Positions

Justin Dargin


The issue of climate change resides high on the global agenda, and the hydrocarbon-rich countries of the Gulf region are no exception. This article reviews how Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, three of the most significant oil and gas exporting countries in the world, approached international climate negotiations, and how their respective positions evolved with them eventually becoming signatories to the Paris Agreement in 2015. This article details how the three countries’ perspectives transitioned from staunchly resisting the development of a global decarbonization framework to one whereby they are undertaking leading roles in shaping the international climate discourse. The three countries had long opposed global climate negotiations as they feared that international decarbonization efforts could hobble their hydrocarbon export revenue generation and economic growth. These three countries are perhaps emblematic of how fossil-fuel producing countries could adapt to global climate change policies throughout this decade. An analysis of the three selected countries’ positions toward climate change and their decarbonization efforts, as outlined in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs), are assessed in-depth to critically understand how the Gulf region-and the broader Middle East by extension-intends to manage the complexities of climate change. In the context of the collective effort to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, conceptualizing how these countries may arrive at their Paris Agreement pledges is a crucial pillar in comprehending the potential progression of the region’s development and the transformation of the global energy market.

Justin Dargin is a Global Energy and Climate Scholar at the University of Oxford. For correspondence: <>


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