Engaging the public in mitigating the impact of climate change
The UAE Government organises awareness campaigns in order to promote the environmental behaviour of the individuals and conserve the country's natural resources.
In May 2014, the UAE hosted 'Abu Dhabi Ascent' to bring together individuals from government, private sector and society to create momentum for serious discussion and action on climate change.
In recent years, environmental education has become one of the prominent elements in the UAE's educational system. Accordingly, efforts have been directed to include environmental content in school curricula and textbooks.
The ‘Our Generation’ initiative
In November 2016, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Ministry of Education have jointly launched the ‘Our Generation’ initiative. It involves developing a school curriculum that raises awareness of students and encourages them to take measures to reduce their carbon footprint. The curriculum is built on the successful modules of ‘Sustainable School Initiative’ and ‘Sustainable Campus Initiative’ initiated by Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.
Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in partnership with Her Excellency Shamma Bint Suhail Al Mazrui, Minister of Youth in cooperation with Emirates Youth Council hosted a number of ‘Youth Circles’ in 2016 to raise awareness on climate changes and environmental sustainability. These include a session at the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) Marrakech Climate Change Conference in November 2016, where 30 youth joined over 200 UAE delegates to experience international climate change negotiations first-hand and to highlight the UAE’s climate change initiatives.
Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, in coordination with Ministry of Education and Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, agreed to introduce sustainability programmes and green curriculum in every school.
The sustainable curriculum will be applied across several subjects, such as economics and science. A group of government and private schools across the country will be part of a pilot scheme that will start in 2018.
The Eco-Schools Initiative was launched as a global initiative led by the Emirates Wildlife Society, in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), aiming to encourage environmental action in schools.
The UAE's efforts to mitigate climate change
Most recently, the UAE’s commitment to climate change was demonstrated by the fact that the UAE was one of the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement in September 2016. Backed by an ambitious ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ to generate 24 per cent national clean energy by 2021 (which has been increased to 27 per cent since its initial submission in October 2015, ahead of COP 21) through large-scale nuclear and renewable energy projects, the UAE is employing various energy and water conservation measures.
By this, the UAE is seeking to manage greenhouse gas emissions from major sectors including the heavy industries, oil and gas, building and transportation sectors, under a national green growth framework titled Green Agenda 2015-2030 as mentioned in the UAE State of Green Economy Report 2016. The UAE’s efforts will be further strengthened by a forthcoming national Climate Change Plan which will be launched under the guidance of the UAE Council of Climate Change and Environment established in 2016 and which aims at actively fostering engagement of the private sector and others in climate change.
To assist with better policy-making, several studies have been conducted to increase scientific understanding of the impact of climate change in the UAE and in the region. Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) conducted a number of studies and researches which looked at the impact of climate change at the local, national and regional levels, including on terrestrial and marine ecosystems, coastal zones, food security and water resources. For example, AGEDI’s coastal vulnerability assessment project resulted in a quantitative assessment of near-term (10-15 years) coastal zone vulnerability associated with climate change, through the development of a ‘Coastal Vulnerability Index’ (CVI), responding to the need for sustainable management of coastal zones which is a priority for the UAE given its extensive coastline.
The UAE Government has adopted many environmental initiatives and projects that improved the quality of environment. These include:
Zayed International Foundation for the Environment
Zayed International Foundation for the Environment promotes sustainable development through environmental initiatives by raising public awareness, addressing sustainability issues, conducting international and regional conferences, workshops, seminars and community activities. The foundation also awards the Zayed International Prize for the Environment that recognises and encourages environmental achievements in line with the vision and philosophy of H. H. the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding President of the UAE.
The UAE Ecological Footprint Initiative 2006
The initiative aims to highlight the ecological footprint of the UAE and seeks to improve it by promoting cooperation between government and private entities.
Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar)
Masdar Company was founded 2006 as a subsidiary of Mubadala Development Company. It aims to achieve commercial benefit in the field of renewable energy and sustainable technologies and provide the necessary underpinnings in this sector.
Masdar City comprises 5 business units with the parent company.
Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund
Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund was established in October 2008 as a charity working on giving grants and identifying individual initiatives to conserve species.
Environmental Performance Card
The goal of this initiative is to encourage industrial establishments to comply with environmental standards and reduce the negative impact on the environment.
International Agency for Renewable Energy (IRENA)
IRENA is an inter-governmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future. Abu Dhabi hosts International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) since 2009.
UAE Strategy for Green Development
The UAE launched Green Economy Initiative in 2012 under the slogan 'A green economy for sustainable development' aiming to make the UAE one of the global pioneers in green economy, products and technologies to achieve Vision 2021.
My City, My Environment programme
The My City, My Environment programme in Dubai plans door-to-door awareness programmes for families covering 22 neighbourhoods and 26,000 houses.
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.
In addition, the UAE is engaged in the implementation of 14 projects for the purpose of reducing the emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs). The expected total annual reduction of these projects estimated about one million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2Eq).
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.
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).
Reduced flaring of natural gas
The UAE is 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.
Signing Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone Layer
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.
In addition, the UAE 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.
The UAE has launched several innovative programs to increase energy efficiency that include:
- The UAE Green Building and Sustainable Building standards (2010): Ministry of Infrastructure Development applies these standards which expected to save AED 10 billion by 2030 and reduce around 30 per cent of carbon emissions
- The 'Green Building Regulations and specification' in Dubai (2011): The code aims to reduce energy and resource consumption as well as improve public health and general welfare
- Dubai's Smart City strategy (2014): The strategy lays out steps toward optimising energy, smarter transport and recreational areas.
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.
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; including both nuclear and solar energy.
The government has committed itself to produce at least 7 per cent of total power generation from renewable sources by 2020.
For more information, refer to the clean energy-mix in the UAE on the energy section.
Transportation is one of the fastest-growing sources of emissions worldwide. The UAE is investing in new mass transit systems such as the light rail, metro and tram system.
For more information, refer to the transportation section.
Carbon capture and storage (clean fossil fuels)
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is technique to mitigate climate change by capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point sources and storing it safely underground, instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.
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. The source of CO2 for this Project is an off stream from Emirates Steel Industries (ESI) factory in Mussafah, UAE.