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UAE's actions to mitigate Climate Change

by Arushi Madan | 12-10-2015 23:25 recommendations 0

The UAE has been taking great pains to grapple with the crisis of climate change.

The UAE's CO2 emissions increased from 60,809,000 tons in 1990 to 94,163,000 tons in 2002. Due to better technology and transition to more natural gas in power plants, emissions of CO2 per capita have decreased. In 1990 the UAE emitted 32,6 tons CO2 per person per year. In 2002 the figure had dropped to 25,1 tons per person per year, leaving the UAE as number four on the top emitter per capita global ranking list.

The UAE ratified the Kyoto Protocol in January 2005. It entered into force 16 February 2005. According to the protocol the UAE, as a non Annex 1 country, is not obligated to reduce its emissions. However, the UAE is taking a number of steps to respond to this critical issue.

The UAE and Climate Change

Climate change has risen rapidly in recent years as one of the most important challenges faced by the global community. The impacts of climate change are already felt around the world. The UAE is a low lying coastal country with an arid climate and which already faces high temperatures. At the same time, UAE plays a central role in the world's energy economy as a supplier of fossil fuels, which gives it an important stake in finding solutions to cutting emissions while still providing the world with the energy it needs. 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. The UAE is engaged in the fight against climate change both because it  recognizes the risks of not acting and because as a responsible global nation it is committed to multilateral action


UAE's Actions on Climate Change

Studying the Impact of Climate Change

The country has also commissioned international studies to assess how rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the resultant changing weather patterns will affect life in the country. No detailed studies have been carried out in the UAE and very little is known about how changes in global weather will affect life. However, this summer two world-renowned research institutes Sweden's Stockholm Environment Institute and Tufts University in the US are scheduled to complete work for Abu Dhabi that is expected to predict how climate change will affect ecosystems, infrastructure and the economy, and what impact it might have on the health of residents.

The studies are expected to help leaders draft measures to prevent further contribution to climate change and respond to the environmental and health challenges it is expected to cause. Rising sea levels threaten penetration of groundwater aquifers by seawater, a particular concern to the UAE, which already faces problems with groundwater depletion and pollution. The scientists will also study the effects on agriculture and public health issues that could result from climate change.

Reduced Flaring of Natural Gas

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has zero-flaring as a strategic objective. Flaring involves burning off waste gas or oil during testing or production processes. From 1995 to 2004 flaring from oil and gas production was reduced from approximately 7.5 million cubic meters per day to 2.5 million cubic meters per day.

Reducing Emissions by Peaceful Nuclear Power:

The UAE has started  a transition to curb emission of greenhouse gases, focusing on natural gas and assessing peaceful civilian nuclear energy, to meet significant power generation demands and water desalination requirements.

The UAE is pursuing a peaceful, civilian nuclear energy program that upholds the highest standards of safety, security, nonproliferation and operational transparency.  Government officials, nonproliferation advocates, and energy experts worldwide have called the UAE approach a gold standard for countries interested in exploring nuclear energy for the first time.

The UAE views peaceful nuclear energy as a significant contributor to meet increasing future electricity demand and as part of its strategy for the overall reduction in carbon emissions. With its nearly zero carbon footprint and high availability factor, it complements the UAE's other renewable and low carbon energy sources, such as solar and clean fossil fuel power plants. A sizeable nuclear energy sector is being developed in the UAE which consists of four nuclear power reactors and the associated infrastructure, the first of which is scheduled for commercial operation in 2017.

Energy Efficiency , Conservation and Renewables

Dubai has developed its master environmental plan that will ensure that growth and progress are achieved while protecting the environment. Demand-side-management of electricity will play a role, as will increased public transportation.

The Dubai Government issued a requirement that all buildings in the Emirate be constructed with environmentally friendly 'green building' standards.

New energy efficiency standards for buildings are being set at a national level for the UAE. In addition, the Urban Planning Council has developed the new Estidama label for sustainable buildings, the first standard adapted for this region and climate.

From new standards for appliances such as air conditioning, to the cutting edge technologies being demonstrated in Masdar City, the UAE is putting efficiency at the heart of its domestic energy strategy.

The UAE lacks many of the most widespread renewable energy resources, with no potential for hydroelectric power or tidal power and relatively little biomass. However, it is blessed with sunshine. Abu Dhabi has set a renewable energy target which it expects to meet largely through solar power, and 2010 has seen work begin on one of the world's largest concentrating solar power plants. UAE is also developing geothermal cooling at Masdar City.

The Masdar Initiative

Abu Dhabi has also established the Masdar Initiative, one of the world's most comprehensive renewable and alternative energy programs.

In April 2006, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, launched Masdar, a multi-faceted, multi-billion dollar initial investment in renewable and alternative energy and clean technology. Masdar is helping to explore, develop and commercialize such future energy sources.

Masdar, which means "the source" in Arabic, has four primary objectives:

1.      To help drive the economic diversification of Abu Dhabi

2.      To maintain – and expand – Abu Dhabi's position in evolving global energy markets

3.      To help Abu Dhabi become a developer of technology

4.      To make a meaningful contribution to sustainable human development

Masdar is a comprehensive investment in future energy solutions and clean technology – from design to research laboratory to mass deployment. The most ambitious sustainability program ever launched by a government – an initial investment of US$15 billion in projects targeting solar, wind and hydrogen power carbon reduction and management sustainable development education manufacturing and research and development.


Transportation is one of the fastest-growing sources of emissions worldwide. UAE has invested  in many green/eco friendly mass transport systems like metro trains , trams , proposed  light rail system and a  high speed train.

Carbon Capture and Storage (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 says CCS could contribute between 10% and 55% of the cumulative worldwide carbon mitigation effort over the next 90 years. Technology for capturing of CO2 is already commercially available for large CO2 emitters, such as power plants. Storage of CO2, on the other hand is a relatively untried concept. The UAE is developing a major CCS project.

The Need for Electricity -from diversified sources

The development of a peaceful, civilian nuclear energy program was based on an in-depth evaluation of the UAE's future energy needs.  An initial study determined that national annual peak demand for electricity is likely to rise to more than 40,000 megawatts by 2020, reflecting a cumulative annual growth rate of about nine percent from 2007.  Even with adjustments to account for the worldwide economic slowdown, the projected demand is well beyond current capacity.

The UAE then studied options to meet this demand. This evaluation was wide-ranging and determined that:

Natural gas that could be made available to the nation's electricity sector would be insufficient to meet future demand. 

The burning of liquids (crude oil and/or diesel) would be logistically viable but costly and environmentally harmful.

Coal-fired power generation, while potentially cheaper, would be environmentally unacceptable, and potentially vulnerable from a security of supply standpoint.

And finally, deployment of renewable and other alternative energy supplies, while desirable, would be able to supply only 6 to 7 percent of the required electricity generation capacity by 2020.

The Waste-to-Energy plant :  Bee'ah is building The Waste-to-Energy plant which, will recycle 400,000 tons annually of non-recyclable waste generating 85 MW of green energy.

 IRENA & Directorate of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) was officially established in Bonn on 26 January 2009.  Following the deposit of the 25th instrument of ratification, the IRENA statute entered into force on July 8, 2010 – this marks an historical step for the growth of an international agency. To Date 148 states and the European Union signed the Statute of the Agency amongst them are 48 African, 38 European, 35 Asian, 17 American and 10 Australia/Oceania States. Mandated by these governments worldwide, IRENA has been  promoting the widespread and increased adoption and sustainable use of all forms or renewable energy. Acting as the global voice for renewable energies, IRENA has been  facilitating access to all relevant renewable energy information, including technical data, economic data and renewable resource potential data. IRENAl shares experiences on best practices and lessons learned regarding policy frameworks, capacity-building projects, available finance mechanisms and renewable energy related energy efficiency measures.

Given the growing importance of climate policy in the UAE's domestic and international policy, and drawing on the lessons learned from the campaign to bring IRENA to the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, took the decision to establish a Directorate of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. DECC was established in March 2010 following a detailed review of experience creating similar institutions in other countries. This Directorate has three main areas of responsibility, to liaise with IRENA, to represent the UAE in international negotiations, and to support a national climate change strategy.

Liaison with IRENA:

The Directorate is the main focal point for the UAE's engagement with IRENA both as its host country and as a member state. It actively participates at Council and Assembly meetings and ensures the delivery on the UAE commitment to the Agency and member states. DECC has engaged actively in designing effective statutes for the legal status of IRENA, putting effective management in place and providing world-class infrastructure to support its operation. In addition, the UAE is providing specific support for IRENA activities through a wide range of channels. For instance, the Masdar Institute provides scholarships for international students selected with IRENA's advice to study renewable energy topics. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has committed $350 million over seven years to support renewable energy projects in developing countries with IRENA guidance. Looking forward, DECC is facilitating UAE engagement in IRENA's work programme. For instance, in linking IRENA to the Clean Energy Ministerial initiative on solar and wind energy mapping, in which the UAE has an active role. The commitment of the member states of expediting the ratification is a clear indication of the importance of IRENA in deploying renewable energy technologies to developing and developed nations alike.

 International climate change affairs:

  • Climate change negotiations and international positioning (including carbon finance and the Clean Development Mechanism).. The DECC plays a major diplomatic role for the UAE in all international negotiations on Climate Change, in particular within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) including the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Monitoring, analysis and reporting on international climate change energy and developments, especially with regards to alternative energy.
  • Commercial advocacy in key strategic locations
  • The interface with relevant international agencies and bodies namely UNFCCC, IRENA, G20, G77,MEF and relevant NGOs.

Most recently, the United Arab Emirates played an important role in the successful outcome of the 16th Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Cancun, Mexico. Furthermore, the Directorate provides support to His Highness Sheikh Abdullah's engagement with the UN Secretary General's Global Sustainability Panel, which was set up to consider longer term issues related to sustainable development. DECC also leads for the UAE in a range of other forums, including the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) process and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate (IPCC).


Domestic Clean Energy affairs:

DECC supports internal UAE processes by linking them to relevant international ones. It Coordinates the development of domestic clean energy and climate change strategy and policies.By engaging with international partners DECC helps bring global best practice to the UAE, and raise international awareness of UAE initiatives and successes. The UAE government has established a National Climate Change Committee (NCCC), chaired by His Excellency Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, Minister of the Environment, to set clear strategic direction for climate policy at a national level. DECC plays the role of the secretariat to the NCCC.


UAE's Energy and Climate Change solution selected as the best solution.

The United Arab Emirates government creation of an Energy & Climate Change Directorate (ECC) within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) was selected as the best solution to build the required capacity for managing UAE's climate change and renewable energy agenda. The establishment of the Directorate was an idea incepted by the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan – who believes that the dialogue on Global Climate Change is one that the UAE can be heavily involved in – highlighting the UAE's efforts to mitigating the effects of climate change. The mandate for this new directorate includes both an international and domestic role. The international role entails ensuring international representation and negotiation while the domestic role entails coordination with national stakeholders.


UAE is crucial in addressing climate change.

The UAE's accomplishments include appreciation for natural resources and the need for conservation. It also has a principle of international cooperation, since the UAE relies on trade for food supplies, and agricultural disruptions in one country would raise global food prices. We live in an interconnected world, where what impacts one country affects us all. The UAE firmly believes in multilateralism. Alone, no country can address climate change. Together, we all can. The UAE's principle is ensuring citizens' welfare while preparing for global challenges.This is why the UAE has invested at home and abroad in solutions to the climate challenge.

UAE has led the region in deploying clean energy , including four nuclear generators that are now under construction and the world's largest concentrating solar power plant, Shams 1, developed by Masdar.

It’s heartening to share  that with directions from President, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, the UAE has formally submitted its Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). INDC gives an outline of the initiatives the country has planned to deal with climate change.

It’s interesting to know that the plan represents the country’s economic diversification strategy and its commitment to sustainable development. The UAE deserves praise for its plan to generate 24 per cent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2021.

In fact, climate change is an extraordinary issue that involves humans’ survival on earth. It requires visionary leadership and extraordinary measures to grapple with. Therefore, it’s indeed reassuring  that UAE leadership is deeply concerned about the climate issue and in turn takes necessary steps to deal with it.

International media is appreciating UAE's pivotal role in providing solutions to climate change.

UAE has been in headlines for  playing a pivotal role in deploying clean energy solutions and fighting climate change . Some of the headlines are :

Former US vice-president Al Gore appreciated UAE's efforts towards climate change and said "confident UAE and world can overcome climate change".

UAE is leading the way in tackling climate change, says UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

Sources :





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  • Dormant user Arushi Madan
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  • Asmita Gaire says :
    Hello arushi
    I hope you are doing well
    Commendable one
    Thank you so much for report
    Green cheers
    Asmita Gaire
    Posted 31-05-2020 11:25

  • says :
    Posted 04-11-2015 01:29

  • says :
    Thanks @Arushi for this structured and report, United Arab Emirates efforts are inspiring :)
    Posted 30-10-2015 20:50

  • Rohan Kapur says :
    Very well reported, Arushi. UAE is making sincere efforts & taking concrete steps to mitigate the climate change effects.

    Posted 19-10-2015 13:05

Eco Generation

  • Eco Generation says :
    Well structured! We can understand the UAE's effort on climate change by this report! Thanks Arushi for the great report!!
    Posted 16-10-2015 10:48

  • says :
    Bindu, Its also the same with me. I hear lots of poor comments with regards to efforts made by UAE but this reports actually makes me feel more optimistic for a greener future for UAE.
    Posted 14-10-2015 09:08

  • says :
    Fighting the global climate change issues, UAE seems to make a lot of efforts and contribution. Glad to know about this. Thanks for Sharing :)
    Posted 13-10-2015 20:53

  • says :
    Though I have heard several controversial news regarding carbon emissions from UAE, I am so glad to hear the tremendous effort of the UAE government to address the climate change. Be it Masdar initiative or clean transportation, UAE has proved itself to be pivotal in sustainable economy.
    Thank you for this detailed informative report dear Arushi sister :)
    Posted 13-10-2015 12:57

  • says :
    Thanks Arushi for reporting on measures taken by UAE to combat climate change.A detailed and well structured report!
    Posted 13-10-2015 04:45

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