M Najmuz Zafar
Muscat – A new research has painted a grim picture of Oman’s capacity to significantly reduce highly potent short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) or pollutants over the course of a decade.
SLCFs are substances, with a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere compared to carbon dioxide, including ozone, black carbon, methane and aerosols.
The Omani study published in Nature Public Health Emergency Collection in August states that accomplishing a rapid, significant reduction in highly potent SLCFs from three challenging sectors over a five- to ten-year time period does not appear feasible or realistic in the context of international market mechanisms, socioeconomic factors and mitigation targets.
The three sectors that the study focuses on are the oil and gas industry, heavy road transportation, and refrigeration and air conditioning and industrial refrigeration.
The study, conducted by Yassine Charabi, professor of applied climatology and meteorology and head of Department of Geography, Sultan Qaboos University, found that a total of 38,268 Gg of SLFCs were released into the atmosphere in Oman in 2015, accounting for 38.8 per cent of the country’s total green house gas emissions, and is expected to rise significantly over the next decade to reach 67,777 Gg by 2030.
“The analysis reveals that the source of Oman’s highly potent SLCF emissions is associated with the three key and critical economic sectors. These vital economic sectors impose a ‘grand challenge’ on the immediate reduction of SLCFs in Oman and the GCC,” Charabi wrote.
The first aspect of the grand challenge is the oil and gas industry’s efforts to reduce methane emissions, which have been hampered by price volatility and new international politics associated with the era of abundant oil.
“Leaving the reduction of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry to national policies that are driven by market dynamics would not result in near-term demonstrable reduction plans,” Charabi wrote.
The second major challenge is connected with black carbon emissions from heavy road vehicles, necessitating the phase-out of conventional diesel engines and significant investment in soot-free diesel engines that meet international requirements. “This challenge requires a government policy, because diesel engines can survive up to 20 to 30 years or longer. It will be several years before most existing diesel engines are retired and replaced with more rigorous pollution requirements.”
The third dimension, aimed at phase-out of high-global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbons refrigeration equipment, is contingent on global progress in developing energy-efficient and cost-effective products and the government’s approach to incentivising the deployment of equipment using low-GWP hydrofluoroolefin refrigerants, the study stated.
“Creating an effective long-term vision for a post-oil economy over the next two decades provides a sound foundation for implementing economic and societal transformation policies incorporating near-zero-emission measures for the potent SLCFs.”