An old Chinese proverb says: “If you want to pre-empt crisis, put the solutions in place before it occurs.” Climate change, the greatest crisis of our time and the most serious threat to the future of our planet, is always one step ahead of us, which requires all of us to step up our ongoing climate action efforts if we want to leave a healthier world to our children.
This year has witnessed an acceleration of efforts to address this challenge — from the adoption of green recovery packages under the slogan ‘Building Back Better’ to the progress of the clean energy transition and the staging of several international events aimed at stimulating regional and global climate action.
These included the UAE Regional Climate Dialogue, the Leaders Climate Summit, and the global preparations for the 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that will take place in November in Glasgow.
On the flip side, 2021 also saw extreme heatwaves that killed dozens in Europe and North America, and caused multiple wildfires in the US and Canada.
Climate change-related temperature rise
According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record, and WMO expects the climate change-related temperature rise to continue, bringing heatwaves to areas where they were unheard of before.
These challenges bring us back to the Chinese proverb that links the ability to overcome crises to taking proactive steps to implement effective solutions before it’s too late.
Proactive voluntary action has been at the top of the UAE’s agenda since the country commenced its work for climate in the early 1990s with its accession to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer.
Three decades later, the nation has announced its bid to host the 28th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UNFCCC in 2023.
Owing to the forward-looking vision of its wise leadership, the UAE has recorded multiple achievements in mitigating the impacts of climate change and strengthening adaptation capacities.
These range from advancing the deployment of clean energy solutions at home and abroad and driving down the cost of solar power generation to spearheading the transition to a green economy and leveraging nature-based solutions, such as blue carbon ecosystems, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The country has adopted a progressive multifaceted approach based on turning challenges into growth opportunities and placing environmental protection and climate action at the forefront of its priorities.
Through its ambition to host COP28, the UAE brings its 30-year experience in climate action to the attention of the international community, and highlights its efforts to ensure continuity of life on Earth.
UAE's pioneering integrated strategy
The upcoming COP26 represents a key milestone in global climate action, and expectations are higher than ever. With the eyes of the international community set on Glasgow in November, the UAE intends to leverage its participation in the event to present its pioneering integrated strategy that demonstrates the strength of its voluntary commitment to climate leadership.
Despite being a major oil producer and exporter, the nation is determined to raise its climate ambitions and motivate other countries to follow suit.
In this context, the UAE has several important announcements in the pipeline that emphasise the extent of its dedication to protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, and addressing the causes of climate change, especially GHG emissions.
These aspirational goals require all sectors to integrate climate action in their future strategies and do their part to save our planet while contributing to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to build a better future for the next generations.
Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi is the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment