How UAE's transport sector is driving towards Net Zero future

Country is focusing on promoting the adoption of electric vehicles, enhancing public transportation systems, and fostering sustainable urban planning


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Wed 19 Jul 2023, 7:25 PM

The transport sector plays a pivotal role in the UAE’s journey towards Net Zero by 2050, an Emirati minister noted during the 11th National Dialogue for Climate Ambition held by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in Abu Dhabi.

Mariam Al Mheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, pointed out that enhancing the sustainability of the transport sector can contribute to strengthening global climate action.

“The UAE realises the importance of this sector, which is one of the most targeted sectors to achieve a 40 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 in the UAE,” she said during the dialogue held under the slogan ‘Accelerating the Shift, Decarbonising Ground Mobility’ in collaboration with Emirates Driving Company. This edition of the dialogue targets the transport sector and enhances its sustainability and participation in reducing carbon emissions in the UAE as part of the Year of Sustainability and before the hosting of COP28.

Mariam Al Mheiri
Mariam Al Mheiri

According to the UN Environment Programme, the transport sector is the fastest-growing contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It is expected to reach a share of over 30 per cent of total emissions in the future. The global vehicle fleet is set to double by 2050, with over 90 per cent of future auto growth projected in low and middle-income countries.

However, research by McKinsey indicates a significant shift away from internal combustion engine cars, with sales of battery-electric and fuel cell-electric vehicles predicted to rise from 5 per cent of new-car sales today to nearly 100 per cent by 2050 globally.

The minister highlighted that the UAE is making considerable strides in transforming its mobility sector.

“We are focusing on promoting the adoption of electric vehicles, enhancing public transportation systems, and fostering sustainable urban planning. The UAE Cabinet’s recent approval of the third update of the second nationally determined contributions outlines the UAE’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 182 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030. This represents a 40 per cent reduction compared to the projected emissions under a business-as-usual scenario by 2030.”

Al Mheiri said that though the UAE is a developing country and subject to less strict emission reduction commitments, the country is committed to maintaining transparency and measurability in its climate actions.

“Although our population is expected to grow 14 per cent, accompanied by a 24 per cent increase in nominal gross domestic product by 2030, the UAE will stabilise and even slightly decrease transport sector emissions, with an emissions reduction target of 20 per cent per passenger km travelled and a 40 per cent per freight tonne-km.”

The minister noted that ambitious public transport projects are underway.

“The recent Cabinet decision regarding the National Policy for Electric Vehicles has reinforced these projects. The new approved policy includes creating a national network for electric vehicle charging devices and stimulating related industries to reduce emissions and energy consumption. In another significant step towards transforming future transportation in the UAE, the first national licence for self-driving vehicles was also granted to WeRide.”

Khaled Al Shamili
Khaled Al Shamili

The dialogue was attended by Mohammad Saeed Al Nuaimi, the acting undersecretary of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Khaled Al Shamili, CEO, Emirates Driving Company, in addition to more than 120 representatives of major private sector companies operating in various vital sectors, especially the transport sector.

15 companies to reduce emissions

The dialogue also saw 15 companies in the manufacturing, cement, waste, transport, finance, and energy sectors in the country pledge to implement carbon emission reduction goals and follow more sustainable methods in managing their operations, according to a timeline compatible with the UAE's national path to climate neutrality by 2050. These companies are the seventh batch to join the Climate Responsible Companies' Pledge of the National Dialogue for Climate Ambition.


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