Though the per-capita carbon footprint of the United Arab Emirates dwarfs that of most anywhere else, it and fellow Persian Gulf oil giants like Qatar and Saudi Arabia are becoming the unlikely cradle of green technology, the New York Times reports. Wary of the world’s dependence on crude and the economic consequences of losing global energy dominance, Gulf states are pouring billions into green research.
Abu Dhabi, which is constructing a zero-carbon city, invested $15 billion in renewable energy last year, equal to President-elect Obama’s proposed investment for the entire US. A Saudi university gave $25 million to a Stanford solar researcher, and $8 million to a Berkeley scientist developing green concrete. “The leadership in these breakthrough technologies is a title the US can lose easily,” one Abu Dhabi exec says.