The Gulf Monarchies and Climate Change

Abu Dhabi and Qatar in an Era of Natural Unsustainability

Part of the Georgetown University, Center for International and Regional Studies, School of Foreign Service in Qatar series
November 2012 9781849042673 304pp


At the heart of Mari Luomi’s salutary book is whether oil- and gas-dependent authoritarian monarchies can keep their natural resource use and the environment in balance. She argues that the Gulf monarchies have already reached their limits of ‘natural sustainability’, given that several of them are dependent on natural gas imports. Water resources are dwindling, and food import dependence is high and rising. Qatar’s per capita emission of CO2 is ten times the global average. As a result of their booming economies, the Gulf monarchies’ surging electricity and water demand have exerted unexpected pressures on domestic energy supply. Simultaneously, the consolidation of climate change on the international agenda has created a new uncertainty for local rulers whose survival depends on sales of oil and gas. Meanwhile domestic resource consumption, together with climate change, are putting unprecedented stress on the region’s fragile desert environment. The Gulf is under stress, but so too are its states’ power, wealth and ecosystems. Luomi reveals how Abu Dhabi and Qatar have responded to these new natural re- source-related pressures, particularly climate change, and how their responses are inextricably linked with elite legitimacy strategies and the ‘natural unsustainability’ of their political economies.


‘Dr Luomi does an exemplary job of teasing out the lineage of different policies amid the complex, overlapping, and opaque world of Gulf Ministries, national energy companies, associated institutions, consultancies, and advisors.’ — Global Policy

‘An integrated assessment of energy and climate policies of the Gulf countries has thus been missing, and Luomi has managed to fill this gap with an authoritative volume on the domestic and international climate policies of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries…For anyone interested in energy and climate policy of the Middle East, Luomi’s book will be crucial reading.’ — Greenhouse Gas Measurement and Management

‘This innovative book will transform our thinking about the future of the Persian Gulf monarchies. Skilfully weaving case-studies of Qatar and Abu Dhabi into an examination of the political economy of natural unsustainability, Luomi focuses on the big issues that will dominate Gulf politics in the twenty-first century – emerging energy insecurities, vulnerability to climate change and international mitigation strategies, and the challenging transition to post-fossil economies.’ — Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, author of Insecure Gulf: The End of Certainty and the Transition to the Post-Oil Era

‘At a time when the Persian Gulf region is undergoing economic development and infrastructural transformation at breakneck speed, questions of sustainability and the long-term environmental consequences of change in the GCC are seldom asked. Mari Luomi’s richly researched book is essential in contextualizing the economic changes underway in Qatar and Abu Dhabi. More importantly, her sobering conclusions concerning the natural unsustainability of development efforts across the GCC, shed light on one of the most important facets of the political economy of the Persian Gulf. I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in the study of the region or in global environmental politics.’ — Professor Mehran Kamrava, Georgetown University-Qatar

‘The Gulf Monarchies are making progress in the challenge to transform their economies and achieve economic sustainability, but only recently has awareness of the ecological challenge linked to the harsh climate of the region begun to be recognised. Mari Luomi’s book details the early steps that have been taken to tackle this further challenge, focusing in particular on Abu Dhabi and Qatar, and the many difficult decisions that lie ahead. Can environmental sustainability be reached? At what cost?’ — Giacomo Luciani, Adjunct Professor of International Affairs, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

‘Dr. Mari Luomi has accumulated a vast amount of material gleaned from the Gulf states’ official publications. Her narrative…is supported by a truly impressive array of statistics’ — David Heard, Asian Affairs


Mari Luomi is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for Regional and International Studies, Georgetown University, Qatar. 2011-2012. She has previously worked in various positions for the Middle East Project and the Programme  in the International Politics of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

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