France and UAE Further Cooperation on Energy and Climate Change

France and UAE Further Cooperation on Energy and Climate Change

On 18-19 July, the President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed,  was in Paris for an official meeting with the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron. This was Sheikh Mohammed’s first official state visit overseas since becoming President in May of this year.  The visit resulted in a range of agreements being signed in relation to energy security and action to address climate change.  The current context of the visit with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the numerous sanctions that the European Union (EU) has imposed has led to European states seeking to diversify their sources of energy supplies.  At the same time, the agreements also emphasise the need to further efforts directed at addressing climate change. 

The key agreements signed include a Comprehensive Strategic Energy Partnership between France and the UAE.  An agreement between Total Energies and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) for further collaboration between the two companies, including addressing fuel supplies for France.  And a Memorandum of Understanding on climate action to further cooperation between the two states in the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference, COP 28, in Abu Dhabi.  The visit also included the announcement of the creation of a UAE-France Business Council which will work to increase business opportunities between the private sectors of France and the UAE. 

France and the UAE have long enjoyed excellent diplomatic and commercial relations and the recent state visit solidified those relations further in response to pressing global issues.  The Comprehensive Strategic Energy Partnership seeks to support a “stable long-term framework for cooperation, opening the way for new industrial contracts". The Strategic Partnership addresses current issues in energy security and affordability while also keeping a focus on what is necessary for addressing climate change.  Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology described the Partnership as “a robust platform for us [France and the UAE] to work together to better deliver secure, affordable and sustainable energy required to drive economic growth and prosperity for our countries and the world.”  

The agreement between TotalEnergies and ADNOC is a continuation of relations between the two companies which also signed a framework agreement in 2020 to support joint activities regarding research, development and partnerships for carbon reduction.  The recently signed agreement seeks to “explore opportunities for collaboration in areas of mutual interest, including gas growth, carbon capture, utilisation and storage, trading and product supply.” The first matter being addressed appears to be increasing supplies of diesel fuel for France from the UAE.   

The MOU between France and the UAE on climate change seeks to “maximise the social and economic benefits of climate action and raise ambition for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.”  The agreement will further cooperation between the two countries for addressing climate change as well as aligning action and interests at global institutions such as the International Agency for Renewable Energy (IRENA) and the upcoming COP meetings. 

While the visit and subsequent agreements are being framed by the current situation of energy security, it is important to understand the significance of the longer-term intentions of the agreements for addressing climate change globally.  With the EU’s recently released Strategic Partnership with the Gulf, increasing avenues of cooperation between the two regions and the member states are high on the agenda for both regions.  Efforts for addressing climate change, while also ensuring energy security, are key global issues making further cooperation between states and regions essential.  The key to success for further cooperation between France and the UAE will be the benefits and expansion of these bilateral links to the wider respective regions and the globe in seeking to address climate change.