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As long as the world needs oil and gas, we’ll give it, says UAE climate change minister

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The United Arab Emirates will continue to supply the world with energy for as long as it needs it, its Minister for Climate Change and Environment Mariam Almheiri said in an exclusive interview with CNBC.

“As long as the world needs oil and gas, we’re going to give it to them,” Almheiri told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on the sidelines of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to the United Arab Emirates.

Scholz visited the Gulf region over the weekend, focusing on securing new fossil fuel supplies and cutting Germany’s reliance on Russian energy imports.

On Sunday, the UAE signed an agreement to deliver liquefied natural gas to Germany, with its first shipment due to arrive by the end of the year.

LNG isn’t a renewable source of energy, but it’s considered a cleaner alternative to oil and coal.

The UAE is among the world’s largest oil producers, producing an average of 3.2 million barrels of petroleum and liquids a day.

Investing in renewables

Nevertheless, Almheiri stressed the importance of investing in renewables.

“We need to be careful … because conversations are happening and it’s all about energy, but it’s really important we don’t lose context of economic growth, [and] climate as well within that,” she said.

Referring to the UAE’s investments in renewable energy projects, she said, “It’s not just about the production … you’ve got to look at the storage, you’ve got to look at the network, you’ve got to look at the distribution. It’s such a complex network.”

“It’s really important that economic growth, energy security and climate action must be worked at together.”

She cited the example of Germany, which last year announced its ambitions to phase out coal by 2030, but lawmakers announced earlier this month that the country would burn coal to get through the winter.

Food and water crises

The minister said the UAE is facing another great crisis: food.

“Food is actually just as important as energy because food systems are or contribute to a third of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Almheiri.

Water scarcity is another concern for the UAE, she added.

A report by the Orient Planet Research found that the Gulf region will need to boost its water supply by 77% to meet the requirements of its population within the next 30 years.

Almheiri stressed the importance of innovating to secure the supply of water, through renewable energy sources like solar powerand humidity from the air.

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