E-bikes to building codes: How UAE companies are joining the race to Net Zero

The Minister of Economy called on organisations to not wait for the government to start working on a more sustainable model of doing business


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Mon 29 May 2023, 6:54 PM

Last updated: Tue 20 Jun 2023, 11:19 AM

From switching to electric bikes to fitting all their buildings with efficient energy systems, several companies in the UAE are contributing to the ambitious targets of Net Zero 2050 in their own way. The discussions came at an event titled Road to COP28 that talked about driving collective climate action in the UAE.

Salwa al Maflahi from Aldar Properties explained how the developer invested Dh70 million in upgrading the fittings of their old properties to increase their energy efficiency. “It is one of the best investments we have made,” she said. “It led to a reduction of 20 per cent annually in water and energy emissions.”

Aldar, which has implemented green building regulations since 2018, made this investment on older properties which had inefficient AC and water consumption mechanisms.

Held in Dubai, the ‘Road to COP28: Driving Collective Action in the UAE’ event was hosted by the High-Level Champions and the Dubai Chamber, supported by the COP28 Presidency and brought together key segments of society to mobilise efforts for inclusive climate progress ahead of the UAE-hosted climate summit.

Similarly, delivery company Talabat said the organization was slowly moving to e-bikes for making their deliveries, as part of their commitment to contributing to Net Zero 2050.

“We have just started using e-bikes,” said Susanna Elias-Stulemeijer, VP of Communications and Sustainability at the company. “Two weeks ago, our CEO did a test drive and now we have some of these bikes plying across the Palm.”

In his opening speech at the event attended by company representatives and thought leaders, Abdulla Bin Touq, UAE’s Minister of Economy called on organisations to not wait for the government to start working on a more sustainable model of doing business. He also added that the COP28 will serve as a global platform that will support “collective action to tackle climate change, reduce carbon footprint, achieve sustainable and comprehensive development, and create a better future for current and future generations.”

Investing for tomorrow

With the discussion about climate change and sustainability taking centre-stage, several corporates and investing heavily into the sector.

DP World elaborated how the company had put in place a climate change asset resilience program to monitor and assess future impacts of climate change. “Climate change is integrated into our DNA,” said Ayla Bajwa from the company. “We identified targets where we will reach carbon neutrality in 2040 and net zero by 2050.”

Another company that is investing into this is Talabat. “We are a tech company,” said Susanna.

“The average age of our employees is below 30 and for the younger generation, being socially responsible and environmentally conscious is extremely important. We focus on packaging and mobility as means of being sustainable. We also reduce cutlery.”

According to Wael Ismail, VP Communications and Government Affairs of PepsiCo, investing in the environment is more important than ever. “No matter where you look, everything we do related to the climate has a big impact across the supply chain,” he said. “If the supply chain is not resilient and we don’t expand our agricultural footprint, once a flood hits or you are running out of water, you have not business to run.”


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