Abu Dhabi: H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, will lead the UAE’s delegation at the pivotal global climate talks in Glasgow, ensuring the nation plays a key role in discussions with world leaders and national negotiators on measures to address climate change.
The meeting – COP26 (the 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)) – represents the latest opportunity for the 197 parties that signed the UNFCCC treaty to discuss and formalise plans to cut global emissions to “net zero” by 2050.
The 197 signatory countries’ representatives will convene in Glasgow, the United Kingdom (UK), on October 31 to take coordinated action on climate change. Hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, the summit runs for two weeks until November 12. The UAE’s participation at the event is further highlighted by its offer to host COP 28 in 2023.
His Highness Sheikh Abdullah said: “We look forward to working with the international community to build the path to a lower carbon economy to safeguard the environment and reduce emissions, as well as create lasting economic opportunity. We remain a committed partner in the world’s efforts to mitigate climate change and find inclusive practical climate solutions that will deliver sustainable economic growth.”
Sheikh Abdullah said: “Should we be confirmed as hosts, our goal will be to make COP 28 as inclusive and action-oriented as possible, a COP that brings together developed and developing countries and unites all sectors – public, private, academic and civil society – around a focus on tangible solutions.”
His Highness added: “At a time of rapidly rising climate risk that threatens all countries, we approach this important responsibility with humility and also with determination to support the international community in our pursuit of a practical agenda that is focused on implementation, has ambition, highlights opportunity and drives change.”
“As we celebrate our Golden Jubilee year, we aim to build strong partnerships that are central to economic progress, environmental action and solving global challenges,” added H.H. Sheikh Abdullah.
Unwavering focus on positive climate action.
The UAE is leveraging the path to a lower carbon economy to safeguard the environment, drive down emissions and create lasting economic opportunity. An unwavering commitment to reducing emissions – bolstered by the recent launch of the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative – has led to a number of global and regional firsts for the nation. As part of its net-zero strategy, the UAE plans to invest AED600 billion in clean and renewable energy sources by 2050.
Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, said: “Over the last 15 years, the UAE has invested heavily in clean technologies that help us both mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change while diversifying our economy, developing new industries and generating positive economic impacts for our people. We are focused on accelerating commercially viable clean technologies and cutting-edge solutions to enhance resource management and food and water security. This closely aligns with the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, which defines the next phase of our national development, creating new knowledge, new skills and new jobs.”
Highlighting the nation’s offer to host COP 28, he added: “We would leverage our experience as a global convenor focused on global challenges to bring together all stakeholders in order to accelerate climate solutions that make good sense for our environment and also simply make good business sense.”
Further building on the nation’s commitment to energy transition, the state energy company Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) announced a significant step in decarbonising its operations. Starting January 2022, ADNOC will source up to 100 per cent of its grid power from domestic solar and nuclear energy after an agreement inked with Emirates Water and Electricity Company, supporting the national UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative.
Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “The UAE has always addressed global challenges as a constructive global citizen, and we believe partnerships are the key to progress. This bold approach has underpinned our commitment as a first mover in climate action in the region. In fact, we are now building on our strong track record of climate innovation to drive sustainable economic growth.”
A constructive global citizen.
The UAE was the first country in the GCC region to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement. This 2015 agreement commits signatories to work together to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030. Furthermore, the UAE was the first country in MENA to commit to an economy-wide reduction in emissions.
As a result of this forward thinking, the nation is now home to three of the largest and lowest-cost solar plants in the world – including Noor Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest stand-alone operational solar power plant, located in Sweihan, Abu Dhabi, featuring 3.2 million solar panels and producing 1.2 gigawatts of electricity. This results in a carbon footprint reduction of 1 million metric tons per year, the equivalent of taking 200,000 gasoline-powered cars off the roads.
The UAE is the first country in the region to deploy industrial-scale carbon capture technology. In 2016, ADNOC and the UAE renewable energy company Masdar teamed up to launch Al Reyadah, a commercial-scale carbon capture facility that captures 0.8 million tonnes of CO2 from Emirates Steel plant annually.
The UAE also stands as the first Arab nation to deploy zero emission nuclear energy. When the four nuclear power reactors are completed, it is expected that Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant will meet 25 per cent of the country’s electricity needs with zero carbon emissions.
There is a rise in Controlled Environment Agriculture in the UAE, such as automated vertical farms, which enhances food security and contributes to sustainable food systems.
A three-pronged strategy for energy transition.
The UAE’s future energy needs will be met by a three-pronged approach: gas, solar and nuclear power.
“Our nation is also a pioneer in new zero carbon energies such as hydrogen,” added Almheiri, noting that the nation has the foundations and competitive advantages in place to become one of the largest and lowest-cost global producers of low-carbon hydrogen.
While cutting emissions is crucial, and very much on the table for discussion at COP26, the UAE takes a holistic approach to climate action. The Minister added: “Recognising that food systems account for more than a third of all global greenhouse gas emissions, we have partnered with the US to introduce the Agriculture Innovation Mission (AIM) for Climate, a global initiative aimed at accelerating investments in R&D for climate-smart agri-tech.”
Set to be launched during COP26, the joint UAE-US initiative AIM for Climate seeks to drive more rapid and transformative climate action in the agricultural sector, empowering agriculture to be part of the solution to address the climate crisis, build resilience to its impacts, and create co-benefits of climate action.
AIM for Climate launches with support from over 30 countries, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation. Through the Mission, the UAE aims to attract much-needed investments in agriculture, address global hunger challenges and increase sustainable economic growth. The UAE will also announce other ground-breaking initiatives in November that align with the international community’s climate action plans.
Partnering for climate action.
Partnerships are key to accelerating progress on climate action. Having invested US$16.8 billion in renewable energy projects in six continents around the world, and as home to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the UAE’s approach is founded on bridge building with the international community.
The UAE’s commitment to the UNFCCC has been in place since 1995. But even prior to that, the UAE was a signatory to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol. 2005 saw the UAE join 191 other nations in agreeing to the measures laid out in the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC. 2019 saw the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting, underlining its local plans and international support, for the planet, the economy and the people.
This year, as well as driving the conversation locally with the UAE Regional Climate Dialogue in April, UAE delegates took part in US President Joe Biden’s Leaders Climate Summit, and are now heading to COP26.
Underlining the UAE’s bold and continuing climate action is the recent offer to host COP28 in 2023, with the issuing of an inclusive invitation to governments, businesses and civil society to collaborate on practical climate solutions, raise ambition and create lasting, sustainable economic growth.
The UAE’s COP26 delegation will comprise representatives of federal and local government and private sector entities, coordinated by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and the Office of the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change (OSECC). The delegation will highlight the UAE’s strong climate action track record over three decades and reiterate its offer to host the COP28 in 2023.
Minister Almheiri concluded: “Together, we face the challenge of leaving a healthier planet to the next generations. In our drive to promote sustainability across the board, we view COP26 as an opportunity to share our aspirations for a low-carbon future.”