The war between Israel and Hamas presents a multifaceted challenge, impacting not only politics and human welfare but also environmental sustainability and green energy transition. In a world increasingly conscious of climate change, this conflict has raised critical questions about how wars affect environmental conservation and renewable energy efforts.
Wars in general consume considerable resources and often lead to significant environmental damage. The environmental cost of military operations includes the destruction of infrastructure and disruption to green energy projects and policies.
According to Andrea Zanon, CEO of WeEmpower Capital, the war might impact climate sector negotiations globally.
“Governments usually prioritize national issues during crises, potentially sidelining carbon elimination goals,” he told Al Arabiya English.
He also anticipates some loss in the momentum for climate-related investment, especially in vulnerable Middle East and North African countries. However, he believes the overall shift toward green growth cannot be significantly slowed.
Referencing the Russia-Ukraine war, Zanon suggests that wars can expedite the transition to net-zero emissions, making countries more energy secure and less reliant on unstable energy suppliers , as seen in Europe’s reduced dependence on Russia since the onset of the conflict in early 2022.
Russian gas imports to the EU were expected to drop to 40-45 billion cubic meters in 2023, down from 155 billion cubic meters in 2021, as per a report by European Commission published in October 2023.
EU imports of Russian petroleum oils decreased significantly, from a monthly average of 8.7 million tonnes in Q2 2022 to 1.6 million tonnes in Q2 2023, a decrease of 82 percent.
Meanwhile, the United States has emerged as a major supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the EU, accounting for 46.4 percent of total EU LNG imports in Q2 2023, and Norway has replaced Russia as the EU’s biggest pipeline gas supplier.
Zanon also identified the volatility of oil prices as the biggest threat to the green energy transition. Fluctuating prices deter investors from renewable energy projects. Furthermore, if the war escalates and affects oil supply, this could lead to more oil and gas exploration, potentially slowing the shift to net-zero emissions.
To meet the Paris Climate Agreements and limit temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius by the end of the century. As per Zanon,we need to reach $4 trillion in clean energy investment by 2030 instead of the current $2 trillion annually.
The war in Gaza, like the one in Kyiv, might accelerate the global shift away from fossil fuels towards technologies like solar energy and green hydrogen, as they offer solutions for energy security, economic stability, and environmental sustainability. However, Zanon doesn’t foresee a significant negative impact of the ongoing conflict on renewable energy technology supply chains.
As for US climate investments, he also doesn’t believe the war will slow it down. The Inflation Reduction Act, with its significant investment, influences global energy investment patterns. He emphasizes that conflicts encourage countries to prioritize energy independence and innovation.
Citing “PwC 2023 State of Climate Tech report,” Zanon notes a decrease in green technology investment in 2023 due to economic and geopolitical uncertainties. However, climate technology investments have fared better than other sectors.