To secure energy, EU should help Arabs-Iran de-escalate — ECFR

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Press Release — With EU nations deprived of valuable Russian energy supplies as a result of their stance in Moscow’s war on Ukraine, turning to Gulf Arab states could prove risky considering tensions with Iran and challenges stemming from climate change, the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) said in a statement.اضافة اعلان

ECFR said visiting fellow, and author of the latest policy brief, Cinzia Bianco recommended that Europeans should be more involved to create a new climate for peace, one that promotes environmental cooperation between Gulf Arab states and Iran.

“The Middle East is one of the regions of the world most exposed to climate change and desertification,” the statement said, highlighting parts of Bianco’s policy brief to ECFR — a pan-European think-tank, which produces independent research for European foreign policy decision makers.

“The urgent challenges it (the Middle East) faces include air pollution and sandstorms, temperatures in some areas that exceed a threshold for human adaptability, and extreme weather events,” it said. “Water scarcity, long a grave concern, is worsening.”

Yet, the statement noted that Middle Eastern nations “are moving too slowly to address these common threats to their environmental and climate security – and have rarely cooperated with one another in these areas.”

 Turning to energy supplies, the statement pointed out that until recently, Russia supplied 40 percent of the EU’s natural gas imports, and 27 percent of its oil imports.

“But their response to Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine left them scrambling for alternative providers, including Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states,” it said. “The urgency of the situation prompted Europeans to refocus on hydrocarbons, denting their climate credentials.”

“Therefore, they need to make substantive diplomatic efforts and investments in the energy transition, which would be particularly significant if directed towards GCC states, as some of the world’s leading hydrocarbons producers,” the statement added.

 As such concerns gradually become more relevant, Bianco suggested that Europeans “should encourage Middle Eastern policymakers to work together, and should create and support a platform on which they could do so.”

“This would advance Europeans’ climate agenda, and signal their commitment to tackling climate change as a global problem, and it could also reinforce the trend towards de-escalation between Gulf Arab states and Iran,” Bianco wrote.

Bianco listed the following key recommendations:
Facilitate environmental diplomacy: Europeans should work to reinforce regionally owned diplomatic processes that have developed in the past year, especially by linking disparate initiatives and prioritizing consistency and the establishment of a coherent, sustainable, and practical dialogue.

Promote joint scientific research: Joint scientific research would be especially beneficial in areas such as air and water pollution, rain enhancement, desalination, and sandstorms. Research into problems and solutions in these areas may be politically more effective in the region if it is conducted by Middle Eastern states rather than countries further afield.

Pursue opportunities for strategic investment and capacity building: Europeans have a clear interest in supporting the green transition in GCC states, Iraq, and Iran. In many ways, this will require the active involvement of the European private sector and even seed funding from the EU. In line with the European Green Deal and the Joint Communication, the EU should organize a Green Business Forum that brings together private sector representatives from both Europe and the Gulf.

The statement explained that Middle Eastern states’ efforts at de-escalation “will continue to be fragile for so long as they are unable to have difficult conversations with one another about their geopolitical and security concerns”.

“In this environment, a platform for dialogue on climate and environmental security may be one of the few politically feasible ways to strengthen and sustain channels for regional diplomacy,” it said.

It said that Europeans “are aware that it is in their interests to promote de-escalation between Iran and its Arab neighbors”.

“This could strengthen the EU’s position in an increasingly multipolar region, and help it fulfil its commitments to climate and environmental security,” the statement concluded.

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