North Africa’s State Owned Entitles and Private Firms Should Drive Sustainability

Middle East and North African (MENA) countries are often criticized in climate change discussions for outsized emissions generated by the energy sectors. Such arguments ignore that the region’s oil and gas producers play a pivotal role in global energy demand and supply. With Egypt and the UAE hosting consecutive UN climate conferences (COP27 and COP 28), the region is positioning itself in global climate discourse. Crucial to meeting regional governments’ emission reduction ambitions are MENA’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which account for a significant share of the region’s economic activity. Taken alone, the top 20 SOEs (by emissions) in MENA have emissions equivalent to the entire country of Canada, which means they also have the scale to accelerate sustainability action in the region by themselves. Governments can play a part in setting ambitions and in the MENA region, increasingly, they are. However, companies undertake most economic activity and thus, the private sector will ultimately need to bear the responsibility of delivering sustainability action.


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