The United Arab Emirates has engaged in the implementation of 14 projects for the purpose of reducing the emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) under the umbrella of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects. The prospective total annual reduction of these projects estimated about one million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2Eq).
With investment in renewable energy and the role as the host of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), UAE is at the heart of the clean energy revolution.
In 2005, the UAE ratified the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Convention on Climate Change, becoming one of the first major oil-producing countries to do so.
In accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the UAE is a non-Annex 1 country and not obligated to reduce its emissions. The UAE, however, has chosen to implement actions to slash its carbon emissions, including monitoring and tracking GHG emissions and assessing policies related to them.
In addition, the UAE is committed to expanding the role of low-carbon technologies in the economy and investing in renewable energy and nuclear power.
At the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2015, the UAE affirmed its plan to generate 24 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2021.
In 2014, the UAE and the US launched the first annual bilateral energy dialogue to facilitate new and ongoing initiatives to strengthen cooperation between the two countries and to enhance and secure the global energy market.
In May 2014, the UAE hosted the Abu Dhabi Ascent to bring together individuals from government, the private sector and civil society to create momentum for serious discussion and action on climate change.
In order to reduce its carbon footprint, the UAE monitors the emission of gases that lead to the greenhouse effect and has reduced its per capita carbon emissions. Due to better technology and transition to more natural gas in power plants, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) per capita have decreased.
In 1990, the UAE emitted 32.6 tonnes of CO2 per person per year. In 2010, the figure dropped to 21.9 tonnes per person per year.
To encounter the critical effects of climate change on the natural environmental ecosystems as well as the water surfaces, the UAE's Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has undertaken a technology of cultivation without soil in several agricultural projects.
This technology helps to control the internal domestic climate (temperature, humidity and ventilation), roots environment (select of the adequate media and provide it with feeders). This technology increases the efficiency of water consumption, use of fertilizers, solutions for soil problems and type of soil.
Reducing flaring of natural gas
The UAE is also committed to reducing emissions from flaring, which involves burning off waste gas or oil during petroleum testing or production. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has zero-flaring as a strategic objective. From 1995 to 2010, ADNOC reduced gas flaring by up to 78 percent.
Due to this significant scientific discovery of the ozone depletion, many countries have called for organising an agreement for the protection of the ozone layer in 1985 in Vienna.
Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer aims to:
- phase-out ozone depleting substances
- transfer environmentally sound technology
- promote awareness at all the social levels in regards to the importance of maintaining the ozone layer.
The UAE has always been an active party in the efforts exerted by the international community to phase out the ozone depleting substances. The UAE acceded to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1989. In addition, it adopted the four amendments of the Montreal Protocol. It has been since then exerting enormous efforts to meet its obligations under the convention and the protocol.
Increasing energy efficiency
The UAE has launched several innovative programs to increase energy efficiency. In 2014, Dubai launched the Smart City strategy, focusing on 1,000 government services and development in 6 main areas including transportation, infrastructure, communications, financial services, urban planning and electricity.
The strategy lays out steps toward optimising energy, smarter transport and recreational areas. Demand-side management of electricity will play a role, as will increased public transportation.
In 2010, the UAE Cabinet approved the Green Building and Sustainable Building standards to be applied across the country. Application of these standards started at government buildings early 2011. The project is expected to save AED 10 billion by 2030 and reduce around 30 per cent of carbon emissions.
In 2011, Dubai Government issued a set of 'Green Building Regulations' for private sector construction in order to reduce energy and resource consumption as well as improve public health and general welfare. The code is mandatory for all new buildings.
Launching the Masdar initiative
The UAE's largest emirate, Abu Dhabi, has committed more than USD 15 billion to renewable energy programmes through the Masdar Initiative. Masdar underscores twin commitments to the global environment and diversification of the UAE's economy.
Masdar focuses on the development and commercialisation of technologies in renewable energy, energy efficiency, carbon management and monetisation, water usage and desalination.
Reflecting the UAE's commitment to sustainability, the International Renewable Energy Agency opened its permanent headquarters in Abu Dhabi's Masdar City in June 2015.
The initiative's partners include some of the world's largest energy companies and elite institutions: BP, Shell, Occidental Petroleum, Total Exploration and Production, General Electric, Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Rolls Royce, Imperial College London, MIT and WWF. It has four key elements:
- an innovation centre to support the demonstration, commercialisation and adoption of sustainable energy technologies
- the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology with graduate programmes in renewable energy and sustainability, located in Masdar City, the world's first carbon-neutral, waste-free, car-free city
- a development company focused on the commercialisation of emissions reduction and clean development mechanism solutions as provided by the Kyoto Protocol
- a special economic zone to host institutions investing in renewable energy technology.
The UAE is the first Gulf country to start on the new energy strategy, which involves the nuclear power and solar energy in addition to natural gas, which covers the majority of the UAE's needs.
The country is looking to increase its target for power generation from clean energy to 30 per cent by 2030; it aims to achieve 25 to 30 per cent of its electricity to be generated from both nuclear and solar.
The government has committed itself to produce at least 7 per cent of total power generation from renewable sources by 2020.
Transportation is one of the fastest-growing sources of emissions worldwide. The UAE is investing in new mass transit systems such as Dubai's light rail system and a proposed high-speed train.
For more information, refer to transportation.
Clean fossil fuels
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a means of mitigating climate change by capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point sources such as power plants and storing it safely underground instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.
The potential impact of CCS is huge. The Intergovernmental Panel on climate change expects that CCS could contribute between 10 and 55 per cent of the cumulative worldwide carbon mitigation effort over the next 90 years.
The UAE is developing a major CCS project in Abu Dhabi, which is managed by Al Reyadah: Abu Dhabi Carbon Capture Company. It is the first in a planned series of CCUS projects in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The source of CO2 for this Project is an off stream from Emirates Steel Industries (ESI) factory in Mussafah, UAE.
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Updated on 04 Mar 2018