UAE Energy Minister warns of worsening poverty if energy affordability is not addressed

United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail Mohamed al-Mazrouei at a press conference in January 2018.

MOHAMMED MAHJOUB/AFP/Getty Images

If energy affordability is not addressed, there is a risk that large parts of the world will fall into poverty and the global economy will stagnate, said United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei.

Rising energy prices have fueled inflation around the world and have created a cost of living crisis in both developed and emerging economies.

Speaking to Slice Mag on Tuesday at the World Government Summit in Dubai, UAE, Al Mazrouei expressed concern that the global focus on geopolitics and energy security has led governments to overlook the long-term ramifications of declining affordability.

He said leaders of the OPEC+ Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries tried to maintain order and get resources to market at a manageable pace, but suggested this was becoming increasingly difficult.

“For that to happen, we need resources – financial resources – we need to invest and we need to decouple politics from energy availability and energy affordability,” Al Mazrouei said.

“I’m afraid that because we’re getting the two mixed up, we could end up in a situation where energy affordability becomes an issue and it would definitely lead to poverty in the end and eventually lead to a stagnation of the global economy. We try, but we can’t be blamed for everything – we do our best.”

Oil and gas prices have risen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Al Mazrouei noted that the focus has been more on sustainability and the energy transition, which, combined with a slump in demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has pushed prices down. to historic lows. in 2020.

OPEC+ responded with record cuts in production at the time, but Al Mazrouei said the next issue to address beyond securing supplies would be securing affordability.

“I’m sure the next step will be the affordability of energy and resources, in that sense, as food security becomes an issue and industrial raw materials or minerals also become an issue,” he said.

“So the risk I see, or the danger, is poverty that could lead to people having to join those terrorist groups.”