H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, outlined a detailed nation-wide action plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. This came following the announcement at the UAE Government annual meetings earlier this month of the nation’s comprehensive Net Zero 2050 Strategy,
More than 25 initiatives across six core sectors
At the heart of the ambitious UAE Net Zero 2050 strategy, are more than 25 programmes covering six core sectors: power, industry, transport, buildings, waste and agriculture. Across all these sectors, the initiatives will focus on improving efficiency and increasing the deployment of renewable energy sources. The focus will also be on increasing the percentage of clean energy, raising consumption efficiency, and switching to sustainable transportation systems and green buildings in addition to using nature-based solutions and carbon capture technologies.
The strategy has also set emission reduction targets for the different sectors. Emissions in the power and water sector will be reduced to zero by 2050 from 0.55 million tonnes per MWh during the 2019 base year. Emissions of industries will be reduced to 7 million tonnes from 103 MTC02e from 2019; of the transport sector, it will be cut to zero from 42MTCO2e in 2019, and to 1 MTCO2e by 2050 across the buildings sector from 62MTCO2e in 2019. Waste sector emissions will be cut to 3 MTCO2e by 2050 from 13 MTCO2e in 2019, and agricultural emissions are aimed to be reduced to 1 MTCO2e in 2050 from 6 MTCO2e during the base year. Furthermore, through nature-based solutions such as planting mangroves and direct air capture, the nation's to achieve 13 MtCO2e by 2050.
Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri said: “As early as 2021, the UAE Net Zero Strategic Initiative, coordinated by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, started to study, evaluate, and propose National Climate Pathways to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050. Following the UAE Cabinet endorsement of our plan, we are now unveiling a suite of enablers and initiatives which will accelerate our journey to becoming a climate-neutral nation.”
Almheriri added: “The UAE Net Zero 2050 Strategy is designed to act as an engine for economic and societal advancement by leading the transition to Net Zero emissions and thereby contributing to global mitigation efforts. It will create extensive new employment opportunities, with some 200,000 new roles predicted, including high-skilled sustainable jobs across the solar, battery, and hydrogen sub-sectors.”
The delivery of the strategy is predicted to contribute to about 3 per cent of the national GDP, as well as enhanced export opportunities. She made a call for action by stressing the importance of collaboration between the federal and local governments, the private sector and community in helping the UAE meet its target for each sector.
A nationwide programme
The Net Zero 2050 Strategy showcases how the country will build on the momentum created by the UAE’s Third Update to the Second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), moving from 40 per cent emission reduction by 2030, to Net Zero by 2050, she added.
Specific to the power and water sector, the strategy aims to strengthen storage, while for the industry, the use of alternative materials and enhancing carbon capture and storage will be enhanced. To reduce emissions in the transport sector, the strategy focuses on promoting clean modes of transport, including EVs, while for the buildings sector, there will be greater emphasis on building codes and the use of green building materials.
Focus on waste
To cut emissions in the waste sector, the strategy seeks to explore alternative materials and energy sources, supporting the pillars of the circular economy, as well as optimizing consumption, which is also applicable for the agriculture sector in addition to climate-smart agriculture solutions. Speaking about the waste sector, she stressed the role of the individuals and community in efficient waste management. “We don’t even feel how much waste we are producing because the waste management system is so good in the country. You take out your waste and the next morning it is gone. So you don’t see it and don’t feel how much it is.”
Capturing emissions during process will also be a strategic priority. Further, the strategy aims to enhance negative emissions through ongoing plans for planning mangroves, with a commitment to plant 100 million mangroves by 2030, and also promoting direct air capture technology.
Three strategic enablers
The UAE has identified several ‘enablers’ which will help create the kind of empowering ecosystem need for Net Zero 2050 Strategy to thrive. These include the implementation of Climate Finance Mechanisms; the development of new technologies via a supportive R&D; and a dynamic Upskilling and Capabilities Plan.
The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment will coordinate the wide-ranging and progressive measures of over 45 major stakeholders including ministries, government-related entities and national champion companies.
Continuous review and adaptation
Recognising the rapid pace of technological advancements, the strategy is designed for constant review, with updates every 3 to 5 years. “This iterative approach ensures that we remain at the forefront of innovation and are ready to embrace new technologies as they emerge,” she added.
Engaging communities and households is a crucial aspect of our strategy. Initiatives such as the Changemakers Majlis aim to involve community members in informal dialogues, fostering awareness and encouraging sustainable lifestyle changes. The Minister said that the emphasis on dialogue with private sectors and ongoing community engagement ensures that our strategies resonate with the people on the ground.
Legislatives to come up
The minister said that the implementation of the strategies will be supported by legislation. Some laws are currently in the development phase across various sectors and departments such as energy, agriculture, waste and air quality. She recognised the imperative to revamp existing regulations, acknowledging the speed at which changes are needed. Besides, hundreds of announcements related decarbonisation efforts are expected to be made by the UAE during the COP28 Summit.
“COP28 beacon of hope”
Almheiri expressed her dismay at the disheartening developments in the region, emphasising the UAE's aspiration for Cop28 to serve as a beacon of hope. In hosting global discussions on one of the most significant threats we face, she conveyed a mix of excitement and nervousness. “The UAE want COP28 to be a beacon of hope. We really want to lead by example at COP28. We want to walk the talk.”