The race to the knowledge-based economy is well under way
Diversification and the drive towards renewable energy
The government of the United Kingdom has announced that it will ban the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars by 2040. This initiative follows an earlier and similar move by the French government. Separately, a recent Bloomberg report estimates that electric vehicles will make up 54 per cent of all light-duty vehicle sales by 2040. Earlier this month, Volvo said that its entire range of cars will be electric or hybrids from 2019 onwards.
Despite being blessed with vast proven oil reserves, the UAE has ambitious plans to move to renewables and diversify energy resources. With a realistic perspective on the challenges that face the country and a determination to chart a course for the post-oil era, the government recently introduced a forceful energy plan to cut emissions by 70 per cent by 2020.
The challenge to meet energy demands will be tackled through peaceful nuclear power with the launch of the country’s first nuclear power plant, Barakah, which will cater to 25 per cent of the UAE’s energy needs when it becomes operational next year. In the field of renewables, the Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Power Plant and Shams 1 are highlights of the country’s energy plan.
These indicators reflect the commitment of the government to ensure sustainable energy resources that will nurture the country’s growth. While the UK announcement will have little immediate impact here, it does demonstrate that the race to the post-oil, knowledge-based economy is well underway.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has previously spoken of the moment, 50 years from now, when the last barrel of oil has been shipped from this country. He said that ‘if we are investing today in the right sectors [...] we will celebrate at that moment”. Those investments are being shuffled into place today to ensure that the celebrations will happen five decades from now.