Expo honours UAE’s 2050 net-zero initiative; releases its 2020 sustainability report

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Dubai: Expo 2020 Dubai exceeded a number of its sustainability-focused targets in 2020 and during the opening months of this year, as the mega-event continues its site-wide commitment to host one of the most sustainable World Expos in history.

For the 15-month period ending 31 March 2021, Expo reduced the energy demand of its permanent buildings by 33 per cent when compared to international standards, beating the 20 per cent reduction target that was set.

The same period saw a 53 per cent drop in water demand in its buildings when compared to local standards – a notable increase on its 40 per cent goal. Moreover, 90 per cent of all landscape plants at Expo are either native or adaptive species, smashing the World Expo’s 50 per cent target for event-time, with 90 per cent of all waste diverted from landfill in the same period – a notable improvement on Expo’s 85 per cent KPI.

The figures come as Expo 2020 released its third annual sustainability report, outlining its ongoing efforts to integrate sustainability across its entire lifecycle, create a meaningful impact that extends beyond the site and its 182-day run, and inspire all who visit to embrace a more sustainable future.

Through this latest reporting cycle, running from 1 January 2020-31 March 2021, Expo was better able to accurately reflect the impact of the pandemic of the past year.

“What we’re doing here at Expo is literally a representation, or a small pilot, of what the UAE wants to do in the future,” said Dina Storey, Director of Sustainability Operations at Expo 2020 Dubai, opening ‘Sustainability @ Expo | Restoring Balance’ – one in a series of events during Expo’s Climate and Biodiversity Week from 3-9 October that seeks to mobilise the world to live in balance, and better protect our planet.  

“We’ll be part of that journey,” Storey added. “Not just for the UAE but globally. We’ll be able to learn and understand from each other more.”                                                       

Saturday’s event came two days after the UAE announced the ‘UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative’, a national drive to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 – and making the UAE the first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) nation to do so.

Put simply, net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. Net zero is reached when the amount added is no more than that taken away. 

In a recording played during Storey’s opening remarks, John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, said: “As the UAE prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary as a nation later this year, this mid-century net-zero goal sets out a very powerful vision for your next exciting decades ahead.

“I know this announcement was the result of serious, substantive work by many – and it sets an example for other major energy exporters to follow. I look forward to working with the UAE to turn this goal into a reality.”