UAE has an effective climate action model

The transition seeks to diversify the country's energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

By Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi

Published: Sun 22 Sep 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 22 Sep 2019, 10:21 PM

Despite the growing commitments and tangible efforts made to accelerate action for global climate change in the past several years, starting with the unprecedented consensus for the Paris Agreement, we continue to watch to our dismay the destruction caused by hurricanes and other extreme weather events. The recent surge in the intensity and frequency boils down to one grim fact: Climate change is adversely impacting our planet and the pace of destruction caused by it is way faster than our efforts to try to combat it. And unless the world commits itself to an even more ambitious climate action and targets, we risk losing this race - a race where there is no second place. We either win or lose.
Today, we are taking part in the UN Climate Action Summit in New York to present the UAE's climate action model, a model that we believe can set an example for others to follow.
Despite its location in the heart of a region known for its dependence on hydrocarbons, the UAE launched a transition to renewables in 2006, giving it first-mover advantage and an excellent opportunity to become a leader in climate action. The transition seeks to diversify the country's energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - the main cause of climate change.
To achieve this goal, the country has deployed large-scale renewable energy projects, such as the 5GW Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai, scheduled for completion in 2030, and the 1GW Noor Abu Dhabi - the world's largest single-site solar project comprising 3.2 million solar panels that became fully operational in June 2019. However, the UAE does not believe in resting on its laurels. A newly announced 2GW solar project, set to outperform the record-breaking Noor Abu Dhabi plant, is already in the works.
As a result of its commitment to deploying and exporting renewable energy solutions, the UAE has repeatedly broken the world record for the lowest solar power cost. The cost of generating one kWh through solar technology was 5.84 US cent in 2015, 2.99 US cent in 2016, and 2.94 US cent in 2017.
Internationally, via its flagship company Masdar, the UAE has invested over $12 billion in 49 renewable energy projects. Masdar's diverse portfolio of assets currently totals 4GW of clean energy capacity in 25 countries.
And since 2013, the country has contributed nearly $1 billion in aid to developing countries to implement renewable energy projects that have transformed entire communities. Through a joint project facility, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development committed $350 million to fund renewable energy projects recommended by the International Renewable Energy Agency.
In 2013, the $50 million UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund took shape and it aims to address the development challenge posed by the Pacific region's energy costs , which are among the highest in the world. In 2017, the $50 million UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund followed suit, seeking to deploy renewable energy projects in 16 Caribbean countries. The two initiatives aspire to reduce reliance on fossil fuel imports, stimulate economic activity, and enhance climate change resilience.
As part of its climate action model, the UAE leverages state-of-the-art technologies to mitigate climate change and enable all sectors to adapt, creating new opportunities and industries in the process.
To give this model the momentum to be truly effective, we are keen to involve everyone: the government, the private sector, and individuals - with a special focus on youth. We firmly believe young people are the strongest change agents, and their creative thinking will have a significant impact on the success of the country's development agenda.
At the UN Climate Action Summit, we will announce upgrades to the UAE's nationally determined contributions as well as higher local and international commitments on various fronts. We will also send a strong message to the world to unify and step up efforts and raise ambitions, pledges, and contributions to match the intensity and frequency of adverse weather events due to climate change.
We are confident that this summit will go a long way in improving our chances of winning our race against climate change. Because, at the end of the day, winning is the only option humanity is left with.
Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi is UAE's Minister of Climate Change and Environment

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