Climate change could change the face of trade routes through the GCC

Climate change could change the face of trade routes through the GCC

Temperatures could rise by 3°C or more by 2090. (SPA)

There are many scenarios for how climate change could affect the world. However, it is becoming clear that unless there are significant changes in climate policies, the world could continue to warm.

Sea levels could continue to rise. Weather conditions could change in many areas. The jet stream and other major wind currents may change. Tidal patterns and other oceans could change. Given the dismal failures of global climate meetings and the climate initiatives of many countries, temperatures could actually rise by 3°C or more by 2090.

The war in Ukraine, sanctions against Russia, and other energy and inflationary shocks have set back climate change policies. The great race to close the gaps in oil and gas supply eclipses the race to contain climate change. Energy security has taken precedence over environmental and climate security as the main objective for many governments around the world. It may take a long time for climate issues to gain prominence in political discussions.

Predicting climate and environmental changes is more complicated than predicting the weather. And climate and environmental changes are making weather forecasts more uncertain over longer periods of time. However, those responsible for choke points, such as ports as well as sea and sea lanes in the region must plan anyway.

Another set of changes to consider include planned energy transitions. Many countries in the region already have plans to develop these energy movements. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates stand out for their green initiatives.

As climate change moves towards its currently seemingly inevitable trajectory towards 3C+, arctic routes will become more economical as the ice melts.

Dr. Paul Sullivan

One would expect the importance of oil and gas in the world to decline. Peak oil and peak gas will be caused more by peak demand than by peak supply. There will be a shift towards electric vehicles and even electric ships and planes. Ships could turn more to liquefied natural gas, hydrogen or other fuels and move away from the usual heavy oils used in recent years. They and other forms of transportation could turn into fuels and energy sources that we don’t even know anything about yet. There could be a significant revolution in shipping technologies occurring as energy transitions, climate changes, and other movements occur.

There will likely be more trade and shipping of minerals, metals, equipment and technologies for renewables, nuclear and other forms of green energy – and less trade and shipping of petroleum , gas and coal. Ships and shipping must change with this. Shipping routes must change. Ports will need to plan different types of storage, berthing, offloading and local and regional transport links for these new materials.
This will surely increase the demand for logistics and supply chain change experts, for those who are thinking about job opportunities in all of this.

Shipping routes could also change. As climate change moves towards its currently seemingly inevitable trajectory towards 3C+, arctic routes will become more economical as the ice melts. However, safety, security, navigation and other infrastructure must be built along the Arctic. Long stretches of these roads completely lack this infrastructure. For these itineraries to be feasible, significant background work is necessary.

If Suez is challenged by new Arctic routes, the Bab El Mandab Strait along the Arabian Peninsula will also be challenged, as will ports along the Red Sea. Hormuz could be challenged by the relative decline in trade along the Suez Canal and an expected decline in oil and LNG trade over the coming decades. Ports all along the southern and eastern parts of the Arabian Peninsula may encounter many new competitive challenges. It is possible that oil and gas will be replaced by hydrogen and ammonia of all colors, but that would also be determined by how competition develops between the region and other parts of the world.

One thing is certain, change is on the way. And the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council must be prepared.

• Dr. Paul Sullivan is Senior Associate Researcher at KFCRIS and Nonresident Researcher at the Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News

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