sustainable national plans key to face climate change
Last Updated : GMT 05:17:37
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Last Updated : GMT 05:17:37
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Sustainable national plans 'key to face climate change'

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Emiratesvoice, emirates voice Sustainable national plans 'key to face climate change'

An early-morning view of the Dubai skyline
Abu Dhabi - Emirates Voice

It is crucial that governments incorporate climate change solutions in their national plans if they want to fulfill the Paris Agreement, stressed Dr Saleemul Huq, senior fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development, in a webinar arranged by Climate Tracker this week.

The webinar stressed on the importance of the Paris Agreement in 2015 pledge not just to keep warming "well below two degrees Celsius", but also to "pursue efforts" to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2018.

"Half-a-degree does matter," states a report by the United Nations Development Programme. "It is clear that every incremental increase in temperature results in significantly greater economic losses, as evidenced by historical patterns of economic growth in response to temperature fluctuations."

The UAE has set a series of goals for national development in its Vision 2021, including the Green Growth Strategy, which indicates sustainable initiatives towards economic growth and social development.

"We are well aware of the risks posed on cities by the climate change, and in the framework of Vision 2021, we have adopted an integrated set of policies and measures based on knowledge, innovation and best practices in past years," said Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, at the C40 Dubai Adaptation Conference, held earlier this year.

The Green Growth strategy looks into methods of diversifying sources of income, diversification of energy and water sources, green architecture, sustainable transport, and policies to protect the interest of the country's ecosystems.

According to the Emirates Wildlife Society and World Wildlife Fund (EWS-WWF), increases in temperatures at the current rate will cost the economy Dh7.35 billion a year by 2050 in the UAE alone - reducing the productivity of outdoors workers, putting health at risk, and severely deteriorating at least 12 industrial sectors of the country.

The UAE aims to combat this through a series of policies - many of which have been listed in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which was formalised last September. An NDC, originally submitted as an Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, becomes a binding when a country ratifies the Paris Agreement.

"The UAE's actions are based on a strategy of economic diversification that will yield mitigation and adaptation co-benefits," states the UAE's NDC. "To this end, the UAE will pursue a portfolio of actions, including an increase of clean energy to 24 per cent of the total energy mix by 2021."

According to Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis that tracks progress of the Paris Agreement, there is plenty that can be further adopted along the NDC policies to adequately achieve the UAE's climate change goals.

For instance, according to the EWS-WWF, the total electricity consumption in the UAE more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, growing at an annual average of four per cent between 2009 and 2015, and projections up to 2020 show a steady increase.

Some ways the UAE can combat this is through targeting emissions from building sectors, through green building regulations, efficiency standards, retrofit programs, and district cooling, states the report.

The EWS-WWF also pointed out that car ownership in the UAE, at 480 per 1 000 people, is amongst the highest in the world.

In addition, Abu Dhabi has set targets to shift 25 per cent of government vehicle fleets to compressed natural gas.

The report states that improving the emission standards for new motor vehicles, introducing comprehensive regulations for electric vehicles, and initiatives that target both improvements in fuel economy and reduction in local air pollution can help deal with this area in a more sustainable way.

According to the NDC, Dubai has made 'infrastructure a key priority' and plans to continue to add more lines to its metro system to increase the culture of using public transport.

In the webinar, Dr Huq also discussed how important creating a culture of environmental awareness amongst individuals especially the youth can be in achieving climate change goals.

The UAE has launched a number of initiatives based on consumer awareness and demand management, including new formats for water and electricity bills, which gives residents detailed consumption and subsidy information.

"Making measurable impact on climate change can only be achieved if civil society makes a conscious effort to raise awareness through education, provide the tools for which to make change, allowing the public to become better stewards of our planet," says Larisa B Miller, business development manager of Beacon of Hope, an initiative launched by Sheikha Shamma Bint Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan.

The initiative seeks to show the positive global impact of raising the level of awareness on issues such as poverty and the need for clean energy.

The UAE is also working on reforming school curriculums to include climate change and has invested heavily in graduate education for sustainable energy development through the likes of establishing the Masdar Institute for Science and Technology and the Zayed Future Energy Prize.

Rabiya Shabeeh is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy

Source: Khaleej Times

 

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