The Year of Sustainability: How UAE is walking the talk

Effective climate action requires a shared vision and collective will. The UAE’s leadership and efforts will, no doubt, inspire others all over the world to take effective action towards sustainability

By Abdulla Mohammed Alriyami

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Published: Tue 7 Mar 2023, 9:46 PM

Earlier this year, the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, had said, “Effective climate action requires a shared vision and collective will”, and declared 2023 as the Year of Sustainability. The UAE, which is committed to achieving net zero by 2050, will host the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change — COP28 — in November this year, which will be a significant milestone in the UAE’s roadmap to building a more sustainable future.

This is also a good time to note that the UAE’s commitment to sustainability is not new but has been ingrained in its history and in the vision of its leadership for a long time. It was driven by UAE’s founding father, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and this commitment remains a top goal for the current leadership.

Today, Abu Dhabi is home to several companies transitioning towards sustainable energy, including some of the world’s leading energy companies. We take a look at a few of them that are spearheading the change:

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) has set out an ambitious sustainability and decarbonisation programme, which includes a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 25 per cent by 2030. In March, Adnoc Gas IPO reflects its latest stock series to fund a transition from fossil fuels and bring more international investors and innovation towards reaching its 2030 target. Adnoc has also committed Dh55 billion to advance an array of projects across its diversified value chain by 2030. These projects will include investments in clean power, carbon capture and storage (CCS), further electrification of its operations, energy efficiency, and new measures to build on the company’s long-standing policy of zero routine gas flaring. Additionally, Adnoc has launched the Abu Dhabi Hydrogen Alliance, which aims to establish Abu Dhabi as a leader in the emerging hydrogen economy.

Masdar is a renewable energy company that has developed several large-scale projects in the UAE and abroad — including the Noor Abu Dhabi solar project. The company also develops innovative renewable energy technologies and invests in sustainable transportation solutions. Masdar is playing a role in endorsing the UAE’s hosting of the COP28; plus, it has inaugurated the Baynouna Solar Park in Jordan, which will produce enough energy annually to power 160,000 homes, making it Jordan’s largest clean energy project, displacing 360,000 tonnes of CO2 annually and supporting the global energy transition. One of the major focus areas of the upcoming COP28 is providing practical energy security solutions while reducing emissions; in February, Masdar demonstrated its continuing commitment to energy transition and support by entering the geothermal energy sector through a strategic investment in Pertamina Geothermal Energy (PGE), one of the world’s most prominent geothermal players.

On 2 March 2023, Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) announced it had met 80 per cent of its total power demand using renewable and clean energy from its solar and nuclear plants. As a result, EWEC forecasts a 50 per cent reduction inof carbon emissions — from more than 40 million tonnes in 2020 to approximately 20 million tonnes by 2025.

Abu Dhabi Power Corporation (ADPower) aims to increase the share of renewable energy in its generation mix to 50 per cent by 2030. The company is developing large-scale solar and wind energy projects in the UAE and has signed agreements to establish several renewable energy projects nationwide. Additionally, these companies demonstrate Abu Dhabi’s commitment to transitioning towards sustainable energy and reducing the country’s carbon footprint.

Ahead of COP28, the UAE’s significant commitment to achieving sustainability and reducing carbon emissions is impressive. Investing in clean power, carbon capture and storage, and energy efficiency will contribute to a more sustainable future. And the commitment to reducing gas flaring and using renewable energy sources — like solar and geothermal power — are significant steps in the right direction. It’s also inspiring to see that the UAE is actively supporting and promoting the hosting of COP28, which will provide a platform for world leaders to discuss practical energy security solutions and reduce global emissions. I agree with His Highness that effective climate action requires a shared vision and collective will. The UAE’s leadership and efforts will, no doubt, inspire others all over the world to take effective action towards sustainability.

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