Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Green sukuk and oil exports

Bloomberg has an article about the prospects for a green sukuk coming out of the GCC (with suppport from Australia's National Australia Bank and Abu Dhabi-based Clean Energy Business Council).  One thing I noticed in the article that, while it makes sense if you step back, seems odd at first glance was the statement that: "Building a renewables industry allows more crude to be exported, said Indraj Mangat, a partner at Eversheds LLP". 

The idea that renewable energy development would be promoted in order to export more crude oil sounds contradictory, but it is not necessarily so.  In 2008, 4 of the top 10 countries in terms of carbon emissions per capita were located in the GCC (Qatar [1], UAE [3], Bahrain [5], Kuwait[7]) with Saudi Arabia [13] and Oman [14] not far behind.  Although some destinations for the oil and gas that would otherwise be exported (e.g. US and Canada) are not much better in terms of carbon emissions per capita, many destinations are (e.g. European nations, South Korea, Japan and China). 

The per capita carbon emission might not be the ideal measure (carbon emissions per unit of GDP is probably better, and comes up with slightly different results): Qatar [18], Bahrain [20], Kuwait [25], Saudi Arabia [26], UAE [36], Oman [39].  The real change here is whether the export markets are less carbon intensive than the GCC (which would make the shift away from domestic consumption of oil and gas towards renewable): USA [54], UK[115], Germany [92], France [144], Japan [96], South Korea [58], China [10].  Substituting oil that is sent to China will not reduce the overall carbon footprint because it will be used relatively inefficiently for creating GDP, and there will be marginal savings for oil sent to the US.  However, South Korea, Japan and European countries will convert the carbon emissions from the barrel of oil more effectively in creating GDP and there will be a net carbon savings relative to the GDP that is created. 

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