Netherlands and UAE taking real action against climate change

'Both countries share not just a transactional relationship but a valuable partnership'


Abdulla Mohamed Al-Riyami

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KT Photo: Rahul Gajjar
KT Photo: Rahul Gajjar

Published: Tue 21 Nov 2023, 6:50 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Nov 2023, 6:32 PM

The UAE and the Netherlands have enjoyed more than 50 years of close bilateral relationships and both nations have ambitious net-zero objectives. While the UAE is taking measurable action to achieve net zero by 2050, the Netherlands is striving towards a 95 per cent emission-free economy by the same year.

However, unlike other countries making grand pledges about sustainability, the UAE and the Netherlands are acting on their promises.

Gerard Steeghs, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the UAE, says: "The UAE and the Netherlands have a lot of things in common. It is not just a transactional relationship but a valuable partnership."

Steeghs believes that the world's most affluent countries are responsible for making the greatest financial contributions to climate change efforts. After all, a recent study by Oxfam International, the renowned non-profit organisation, showed that the richest one percent of the global population are responsible for the same amount of carbon emissions as the world's poorest two-thirds, a figure equal to five billion people. Indeed, each signatory to the Paris Agreement must establish an NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution), which indicates how much money they are required to give to the cause.

There is a shift away from giving aid to developing countries and a move towards providing them with financial transactions instead. For instance, the Netherlands provides $8.2 billion yearly in subsidies for sustainable energy projects, including $1.8 billion to support poorer countries. The UAE has also just contributed $4.5 billion for renewable energy development in Africa.

"This transaction was a great gesture from the UAE and it will certainly help Africa make its own energy transition," reflects Steeghs.

"Financial help is necessary when it comes to helping the poorest countries overcome their challenges with climate change. The Netherlands is also a very active, multilateral player. We contribute to the World Bank and regional banks in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. We all must weigh in to avoid future suffering."

COP28 will be unique to other COP hostings for many reasons. Set to attract more than 80,000 people, Steeghs is confident it will yield incredible results.

"At COP28, the UAE will put the role of the private sector into the spotlight like never before. As we saw at ADIPEC, the UAE leads the way in decarbonizing the oil and gas industry and new technologies that will bring down emissions in the industry. The fact that the UAE will discuss carbon neutrality as a tangible objective is a huge win for all of us."

One element that will be covered at length at COP28 is the topic of green energy. Steegh explains that while green hydrogen is advantageous because it is emission-free, it currently costs three times the price of normal energy. The price varies greatly between China, North America and Europe, making it an unrealistic option for many companies. However, since the climate crisis will affect everyone, ensuring the tradeoff becomes irrelevant is key to utilising clean energy sources.

"We have to create a level playing field for green energy," he says.

"At COP28, governments need to sit down together and examine what regulatory frameworks can be implemented. We should give everyone in the private sector a chance to engage in clean solutions."

As a country with ample water resources, the Netherlands continually shares its expertise in water engineering and water management. Its future technical advances include building windmill parks in the sea and using earth heat to heat new residential buildings. It is also currently working with countries such as Indonesia and Egypt to help them develop new sustainable solutions. "One of the best things you can do during a COP is showcase your knowledge and expertise and ask questions to discover how other countries are adopting sustainable methods."

Steeghs remains optimistic that COP allows countries to have a platform to share best practices and cooperate to overcome climate challenges.

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