Authors: Shivani Choudhary
Energy Review, Vol 4. Issue 2. 2022
Renewable energy, energy security, and importance for energy efficiency as well as energy sufficiency are some of the major ongoing themes for discussions in the contemporary world, especially in regions like West Asia which has been at the forefront when it comes to oil and gas resources. Regardless of that, there are some other countries that have been historically poor in energy resources. Unlike their oil-rich neighbors, Israel and Jordan are currently reliant on imported fossil fuels to meet their energy demands. Expanding renewable energy production offers these countries a possible path to greater energy independence and security.
Political turmoil and instability hinder the energy supply and demand in the region. Since the oil embargo of 1973, there have been numerous occasions where the energy sector had dire impacts due to political turmoil. For instance, in 2011, Egypt cut off the supply of a natural gas pipeline to Israel.
In November 2021, Jordan and Israel came together to develop renewable energy with support from the US and UAE and had signed the biggest energy and water deal in November 2021. Both countries have opened the doors for new transnational renewable energy projects by signing a cooperation agreement on energy and water which has been a long-standing issue in the region. The agreement can be seen as a big transformative step towards the region which is facing some of the worst consequences of climate change and scarcity of water. Jordan, which is considered the second most water-scarce country in the world will receive cooperation from Israel under this project. The following project will address one of the environmental criticisms of desalinating seawater in Jordan. The pact entails the potential construction of a desalination plant by Israel for Jordan, and on the other hand, Jordan will work to generate electricity through solar energy, and an energy storage plant from which Israel will benefit. The following pact also includes the two interrelated programs which is known as Project Prosperity and also Green-Blue Deal i.e., the Green Prosperity Programme.
Jordan which is one of the topmost leading states in the West Asian region in the energy transition will set the stage for the construction of a solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in Jordan, with 600 MW of capacity. All this power would be exported to Israel by Jordan. Blue Prosperity Programme - Prosperity Blue involves a water desalination program by Israel, to supply and complete the demand for water in Jordan. The plant would provide 200 million cubic meters of water to Jordan under the deal, doubling the amount of water it currently has promised to sell to Jordan.
The agreement benefits both countries by addressing climate change issues - electricity in Israel and water in Jordan. John Kerry, the US special climate envoy, noted that “the Middle East is on the frontline of the climate crisis. Only by working together can countries in the region rise to the scale of the challenge. Today’s initiative is a welcome example of how cooperation can accelerate the energy transition and build greater resilience to the impacts of climate change. The United States is impressed by the courageous and creative steps by the parties that made this declaration possible, and looks forward to working with the parties, as well as with others in the region and around the world, to turn our shared climate challenge into an opportunity to build a more prosperous future.”
West Asia as a region is at the forefront of being affected by climate crises. And crises like these can only be solved through collective responsibility, cooperation, and joint action. Therefore, not only through coming together and by signing the deal but both the countries have also decided to invest in clean energies in their homeland as well. Both the countries decided to move towards renewable energies. Israel targeted to generate 30% of its power from renewables by 2030. The state has also announced to reduce carbon emission to net-zero by 2050. Israel’s National Energy Efficiency Plan also seeks to reduce energy intensity across the economy by 18% from 2015 levels by 2030 as another key strategic step by the Israeli state to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. The state has also decided to build green infrastructure and use an environmental method and technology to help meet the goals.
Similarly, Jordan has decided to reduce GHG emissions in 2030 by 31%. Jordan, which is suitable for constructing big photovoltaic powerhouses due to the vast sun-drenched deserts land, also decides to develop renewable energy to sell it to the Israeli state and the entire region. The West Asian region countries which are already on the verge of the climate crisis have realized the need for green politics and effective climate-oriented policies. The region which is full of political turmoil and disturbance has also decided to keep their disbelief and enmity aside while working on the economic and environmental front with each other.
On a concluding note, while transitioning to renewable energy is important to decarbonize the economy, it is also important for energy security in the West Asian region. The governments’ recent shift toward regional integration offers some hope, but investors and developers will need a clearer vision and substantial progress to emerge. The potential for renewable energy development in Israel and Jordan presents a pathway to future energy independence and security in the region as well as in the world. The region is in dire need of collectively responding and addressing the destabilizing consequences of climate change. Both sides should reset their relations and focus on the larger picture of human existence. It is important to focus on renewable energy, water, electricity, and green energy for the generations to come. And should reduce the risk of future violence and should establish a model for regional cooperation for a better green and sustainable world.
(Ms. Shivani Choudhary is a Master’s student at the International Relations and Area Studies Programme, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.)■□■