The world is facing a climate emergency. No one is safe from the devastating impacts of climate change that casts a long, dark shadow on the world’s biodiversity, oceans, soil and land, food security, water security, public health, and biosecurity, and aggravates the frequency, scale, and duration of extreme weather events that are already taking a heavy toll on people’s lives and livelihoods as well as our precious environment.
Sadly, the world is off track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels, and achieving climate neutrality by mid-century.
More robust climate commitments are the need of the hour. With that urgency in mind, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) produced the Glasgow Climate Pact that sounded a call for member countries to “revisit and strengthen” the ambition of their 2030 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by end-2022.
"Parents should educate their children about environment-conscious behaviours and lead by example, media should highlight the topic and promote a sustainable way of life, academia should motivate bright minds to develop game-changing solutions"
In the UAE, we heeded the call
Owing to the unwavering dedication of our wise leadership to climate action, we are one of just a handful of countries that updated their NDCs with higher targets. In our updated second NDC, we raise our whole-of-economy greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target to 31 per cent, compared to 23.5 per cent outlined in our original second NDC.
Our new target will support the objectives of the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative that we kicked off a year ago to join the Race to Zero, and pave the way for the UAE to become climate-neutral by mid-century.
Meeting the new target mandates that we all come together and demonstrate a strong sense of unity in the face of an imminent climate crisis. All sectors have distinctive roles to play to put our country on a low-carbon growth path, where people and the environment can thrive side by side.
To encourage our partners to take that step and become active contributors to our decarbonisation drive, we introduced the UAE Climate-Responsible Companies Pledge that forms a nucleus for future collaborations among the private sector, NGOs, and international organisations to achieve their net-zero plans.
We must all show care
I urge all companies to show that they care about their impact on our climate, and that they are ready and willing to translate their commitment into action by signing the UAE Climate-Responsible Companies Pledge.
In addition, our updated second NDC emphasises the importance of engaging women, youth, and climate-vulnerable communities. The voices of these segments of society, who are at the front lines of the climate crisis, must be integrated as part of an all-inclusive approach to developing policies and programs that promote climate-smart living as a way of building a more sustainable future.
We are dedicated to progressively raising our ambition further each year as new solutions and initiatives become available. As we prepare to implement the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, we are developing a long-term strategy to inform a higher economywide emission reduction target and enhanced climate change adaptation efforts, which will be included in our next NDC.
The window for climate action to avert worst-case scenarios is narrowing, but we still have a chance to avoid a bleak future. Our best hope to fend off the looming threat of climate change is to step up our climate commitments and act on them.
All hands on deck
And here’s where we need all hands on deck. The urgency of the current situation demands that solutions be implemented not only at a government level but across sectors and communities.
Parents should educate their children about environment-conscious behaviours and lead by example, media should highlight the topic and promote a sustainable way of life, academia should motivate bright minds to develop game-changing solutions, and decision makers should factor in climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in the processes of their organisations.
Climate action should be everyone’s business. The government is doing its part and raising the nation’s climate ambitions. But it is imperative that we respond in a coordinated manner to help build the climate-safe, sustainable, and prosperous future that our young generation demands and deserves.
Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri is the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment