Renewables are the way forward for the UAE to cut emissions

The UAE has ambitious plans in place to cut emissions and increase the amount of energy it generates from clean sources as the threats from climate change grow.

A recent estimate suggested that 2 to 3 per cent of energy was generated from renewable sources. The goal is to increase that figure to 27 per cent by 2021.

Solar projects include building work on the third phase of Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park, while the first nuclear power plant in Barakah will generate nearly 25 per cent of the country’s energy needs once completed.

Beginning even before the adoption of the 2015 Paris Agreement to reduce emissions – the UAE was the first to ratify its pledges into law – the country was working on diversification of its economy to be less reliant on fossil fuels.

“The UAE has always endured harsh environmental conditions, successfully thriving in the face of scarce water supplies and intense heat,” said Ida Tillisch, director general of the Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF.

“However, the scale of impacts that are expected from climate change may exceed the coping capacities of many sectors.”

As part of its goal, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has increased its pledge in the UAE National Climate Change Plan.

Detailed in the Vision 2021 plan by the ministry, the UAE has committed itself to provide 27 per cent of its energy from clean sources, up from an initial target of 24 per cent.

“A golden opportunity now exists for the country to take a leading role in the region to make the goals of the Paris Agreement truly meaningful,” Ms Tillisch said.

“Essentially, the UAE’s continuing efforts towards achieving economic diversification and overall well-being of the population will be slowed down by climate change impacts if left unmanaged.”

Almost all 196 signatories to the Paris Agreement are, by some measures, falling short of committing national action plans representing a 2°C increase in average global temperature from pre-industrial times by 2050.

But the Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis produced by three monitors, has called the UAE’s work inadequate.

It has indicated that the current levels of policy pledges are aiming for a 3.6°C increase in global warming by 2050.

“To do its fair share of global efforts to hold warming below 2°C and be rated as sufficient, the UAE should have pledged to reduce its emissions by 42 per cent compared with 2010 – but the current trajectory of emissions is heading the opposite way,” said a report on the Tracker’s website.

The ministry has said that it intends to work towards achieving national security goals in climate change and has called on the private sector to do the same.