UAE: Remote working is good for the environment, says Abu Dhabi entity

A report says work-from-home policy helps reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions due to less traffic, electricity consumption

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Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Tue 18 Apr 2023, 3:15 PM

Last updated: Tue 18 Apr 2023, 4:01 PM

Remote work or working from home results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions and increased air quality, Abu Dhabi-based environmental regulator says.

“We supported the development of a Remote Work Policy for public sector employees in the Abu Dhabi Emirate,” Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) noted in its 2022 annual report.

EAD is the Middle East’s largest environmental regulator, committed to protecting and enhancing air quality, groundwater and the biodiversity of Abu Dhabi’s desert and marine ecosystems.

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the trend of flexible and remote work. The EAD found out that work-from-home policies resulted in environmental sustainability gains and reduced carbon emissions.

“Our assessment of the lockdown showed that preventive measures introduced to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic also reduced air pollution and GHG (greenhouse gas emissions) emissions, largely due to less traffic and electricity consumption,” the EAD underlined.

In the past, several research and studies published by global organisations and entities like OECD, Nature, LinkedIn, Pew Research Centre, Harvard Business Review, among others, have highlighted the benefits of remote work on employee’s productivity and environment.

The EAD report revealed a proposal submitted to its own management to conduct a pilot project this year. “The Remote Work Policy looks at increasing the number of public sector employees working remotely to improve air quality and mitigate climate change. The policy has benchmarked international and local remote work practices, proposing high-, medium- and low-emission reduction scenarios. It was proposed that our Executive Management Committee conduct a pilot in 2023 in EAD.”

Ban on single-use plastic effective

The report also highlighted the EAD’s key achievements, especially the implementation of single-use plastic policy. Since imposing a ban on single-use plastic bags on June 1, 2022, the EAD has recorded a 90 per cent drop in the number of single-use plastic shopping bags thereby resulting in a daily use reduction of half a million bags. Also, last year, more than 30 million plastic bottles were recovered, in comparison to 7.25 million bottles in 2021, and more than 850,000 bottles are collected every week.

Significantly, while monitoring the marine protected areas, the EAD removed dangerous debris and obstacles. It cleaned 58 marine sites and removed 87,000 metres of net weighing 38,560kg.

In the foreword of the report, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of EAD, said in 2022 EAD asserted its leadership and succeeded in strengthening the national and global position of Abu Dhabi and its active role in preserving the environment and protecting species.

“It was also a decisive year of positive climate action, during which EAD intensified its efforts to support the vision and aspirations of the UAE government, and, thanks to its pioneering leadership role in Abu Dhabi, reduced the effects of climate change which further contributes to achieving the goals of the strategic climate neutrality by 2050 initiative.”

Among other key milestones were the launches of the Abu Dhabi Mangrove Initiative in February 2022 and the ‘Abu Dhabi Environmental Centennial 2071’.

Mohamed Ahmed Al Bowardi, vice chairman of EAD, said: “The year 2022 was marked by several achievements that helped realise EAD's vision, as it was full of exemplary projects that laid the foundations for achieving even greater success.”

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, managing director and member of the board of directors of EAD, said: “We have taken great strides in several directions towards combating climate change – from planting mangroves with drones to honouring industrial facilities that are actively reducing their emissions, thereby reducing the proportion of pollutants. We also look forward to strengthening our leading role in COP28, which will be hosted by the UAE in 2023.”

Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, secretary-general of EAD, added: “In line with the vision of the UAE government, we are on our way to implementing a complete ban on all single-use plastic bags across the country by 2024.”

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