Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Muscat – A new research from the International Energy Agency (IEA) presents a bleak picture of climate change in Oman necessitating the introduction of policy measures to achieve a climate-resilient energy transition in the Sultanate.

Climate projections indicate that Oman will experience higher temperatures in the coming decades, with more frequent heat waves. Furthermore, low rainfall, combined with limited natural freshwater resources, has made Oman one of the most water-stressed countries. Oman has less than 1,000m3 of freshwater per capita per year, which is significantly less than the world average of around 5,500m3.

Low-lying coastal areas are vulnerable to sea level rise. This could trigger saltwater intrusion and lead to a decrease in freshwater availability in coastal areas, where the majority of irrigated land (56%) is located.

‘Indeed, by the middle of the 21st century, 64% of cultivated land in the southern Batinah region will be unfit for groundwater irrigation owing to seawater intrusion into the Jamma aquifer from sea level rise,’ stated the IEA report titled Climate Resilience for Energy Transition in Oman.

Under a high-emissions scenario, the mean annual temperature is projected to rise by about 5°C on average from 1990 to 2100, and the number of days experiencing a warm spell (heat wave) is projected to increase from fewer than 15 in 1990 to about 280 days on average in 2100. Under a low-emissions scenario, the mean temperature rise could be limited to about 1.5°C and the number of days of heat wave to about 85 on average in 2100, IEA stated.

In recent years, Oman has experienced significant heat waves. In June 2018, the minimum temperature did not drop below 41.9°C for 24 hours in Quriyat. In June 2021, a heat wave continued for almost a month in some locations, reaching the country’s highest recorded temperatures at over 50°C.

Shifting precipitation patterns also pose challenges, with a decrease in rainfall affecting freshwater availability and an increase in energy demand for desalination plants. In response, Oman has directed its efforts towards climate change mitigation and resilience, focusing on clean energy transition and the need for energy infrastructure resilience, said IEA.

Oman Vision 2040 and its National Energy Strategy set a target of scaling up renewables and improving energy efficiency, while the National Strategy for Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change and the second nationally determined contribution (NDC) recognize the need for energy infrastructure resilience against climate change impacts.

‘The planned increase in the share of renewables in power generation (0% in 2015 to 20% by 2030 and 35-39% by 2040) would require more attention being given to climate impacts.’

Completion of the National Adaptation Plan and the government’s support for climate risk and impact assessment in the energy sector can act as a starting point to achieve a climate-resilient energy transition in Oman, the IEA report added.

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