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Covid and climate change: How UAE leads response

Abu Dhabi - In both challenges, the UAE has proven its proactive, progressive approach to issues of global concern.


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Wed 20 Jan 2021, 1:25 AM

The world may be all about Covid-19 these days, but a top UAE minister reminded on Tuesday that another big C must remain high on the priority list: Climate change.

“After Covid-19, one of the most important challenges we face today is climate change,” Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, said at the opening of the virtual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).

Taking place in the UAE Capital from January 18 to 21, ADSW 2021 consists of a series of virtual events, bringing together experts and leaders to define new pathways for delivering a green recovery in a post-Covid-19 world.

With the climate crisis still a critical issue for the world, post-Covid recovery efforts must be anchored on sustainability.

Dr Al Jaber, who is also the chairman of Masdar, said that while the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change are two very different challenges, they have three factors in common: both are global, respect no borders and require a united response.

In both challenges, the UAE has proven its proactive, progressive approach to issues of global concern. “As with Covid-19, the UAE has been a leader in its global approach to climate change. We have reached across borders and united with others to make a difference,” the minister said.

Dr Al Jaber said sustainability would remain the front and centre of future-focused dialogue as the UAE hosts Expo 2020. The country will continue to collaborate with global partners to ensure a sustainable post-Covid-19 recovery, he added. “As the world aims to lower its carbon footprint, the UAE will continue to lead as a responsible global citizen and we will leverage our convening power as a unifying force for progress.

“And, as we prepare to join the global community at the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow, we have already announced our second progressive Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). This NDC makes us the first country in the region to commit to an economy-wide reduction in emissions.”

By 2030, the UAE aims to cut emissions by 23.5 per cent from a 2016 baseline. “This represents a real and practical contribution that we will build on,” he said. The minister stressed pro-growth policies based on a diversified energy mix are essential for sustainable post-Covid economic recovery. “To power this growth and ensure continued global progress, oil and gas will need to remain part of this energy mix for many years to come and we must make oil and gas as low carbon as possible. “Here, the UAE has a dual advantage: A leadership that has made environmental stewardship an integral part of our economy and a natural advantage that has made our oil and gas among the least carbon-intensive in the world.”

Dr Al Jaber added that he sees great opportunity in hydrogen and it could take a significant amount of carbon out of the energy system. “With our existing infrastructure and large CCUS capabilities we believe we can be one of the lowest cost and largest producers of blue hydrogen in the world.”


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