The Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Qatar Leadership Centre hosted a roundtable on February 15-16, 2017, in Doha, Qatar, to discuss some of the most pressing challenges facing market participants in the global energy landscape, with a focus on several issues of paramount interest to Qatar and the broader Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). At the core of the discussions was a set of research papers written by CES fellows focusing on:
- issues related to energy subsidy reform and the challenges faced by policymakers, who must find ways to reduce direct energy subsidies without undermining domestic political support. There are various approaches to accomplishing this, including a Hicksian bargain, but the matter is far from simple, as subsidies are often considered to be "entitlements" of citizenship;
- strategic economic diversification in the GCC states and the existing landscape of diversification initiatives in the region and the challenges and opportunities faced in attempting to accomplish the goals set forth;
- the energy-food-water nexus as the three pillars upon which civilization rests and the political, cultural, technological, and economic challenges faced in the Middle East and around the world in relation to water, food, and energy security; and
- the challenge of simultaneously maintaining environmental and economic sustainability and how countries of the GCC are likely to be impacted by shifting preferences for low carbon energy resources in the developed world, including the economic and geopolitical stresses that may follow (forthcoming).
In the end, energy is vital for economic growth and the improvement of welfare and standards of living. But the view of energy and environmental challenges can be quite different in different parts of the world, leading to sometimes significant differences in preferred policy approaches across regions. Regardless, the dilemmas facing one region are ultimately linked to the dilemmas in others because any policy action in the GCC, Asia, Europe, North America or Africa will have ripple effects across the global energy and economic landscape. Accordingly, the importance of recognizing common goals, understanding what is realistic versus what is desired, and allowing for flexibility in the approach is paramount in meeting the global energy challenge.
The reports are below:
Summary: Roundtable on Energy and Economic Diversification Policies by Kenneth B. Medlock III
Oil Prices, Political Instability, and Energy Subsidy Reform in MENA Oil Exporters by Jim Krane and Francisco Monaldi
Economic Diversification in Gulf Cooperation Council States, by Kristian Coates Ulrichsen