I’ve lived in the UAE for four years while working at Schneider Electric. While the UAE may be one of the biggest hydrocarbon producers in the world - ranked eighth for oil production and 24th for gas - it’s also one of the leaders in the renewable energy space.
Over a decade and a half back, the country’s government established Masdar, one of the world’s most sustainable living communities, as a showcase for how people could live carbon-free. The country has also set a number of records when it comes to reducing the cost of solar energy.
Driving alternate energy possibilities
In both 2015 and 2016 Dubai set the world’s lowest solar photovoltaic pricing. Abu Dhabi has also helped to push solar prices lower, setting a new record in 2020 with the cheapest-cost solar farm, which isn’t too far from the world’s largest solar farm (which is also in Abu Dhabi).
The UAE was the first nation in the Middle East to sign up to the Paris Agreement to reduce the global increase in temperatures. And the UAE is also home to the 163-member International Renewable Energy Agency. For a country that’s right in the heart of the hydrocarbon-rich Gulf, the UAE has set an ambitious emissions reductions target of 23.5 per cent by 2030.
In fact, the UAE was the first country region-wide to set such a target. Further on, the country wants 50 per cent of power to come from clean energy by 2050. Beyond the country’s borders, the UAE is a major funder of green tech projects. Through direct investments and aid totaling over Dh1 billion, the UAE is helping over 70 countries to develop their own sustainable forms of energy.
While the UAE is a major hydrocarbon player, just like the US or Russia, the country has long seen the need to pivot to alternative energy sources in that way that will support economic growth, creating hundreds of thousands of new green economy jobs.
I believe that the UAE holding COP28, the decision-making body for the UN Climate Change Framework Convention - which works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to protect the earth from the threat of climate change - would accelerate this momentum. And help others see that the whole world needs to become green if we’re going to succeed in our battle to keep global warming to under 1.5 degrees celsius.
I’m going to end with quoting the CEO of Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company Masdar, Jameel Al Ramahi. “It’s a fact that our prosperity as a country has been anchored by the blessing of a fossil fuel economy. While we are thankful to the blessing that we have and the wealth that we created through fossil fuels, we are also committed to the future.”
The time for this shift is now - and that’s why I support the UAE’s bid to hold the COP28 conference.