Tuesday, 10 March 2020, 06.00 PM-07.30 PM
Oil and gas play a paramount role in economic development, the social contract, and international relations of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Oil revenues dominate state income in about half of the states of the region and buy political acquiescence with services, public sector jobs, and welfare payments. The social contract of local rentier states is no taxation and no representation. Even semi-rentier states like Egypt, Syria, or Jordan have relied on some modest oil exports until the end of the 2000s and/ or on migrant remittances and strategic transfer payments from oil rich Gulf countries. Climate change mitigation requires energy transitions that will affect the MENA region fundamentally. Whole energy systems will change, not just the source powering them. Renewables will play an increasing role in the region’s energy mixes, especially Photovoltaics (PV), beside Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and wind power. Nuclear expansion plans raise crucial issues about regulations and international agreements such as the NPT and 123 cooperation agreements of the US. Beside economic and technical aspects of energy transitions one must not lose sight of social and political implications. What will rentier states do without rents and what social and political change will come with energy transitions?
Eckart Woertz is director of the Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES) at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg and Professor for contemporary history and politics of the Middle East at the University of Hamburg.