Shaikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (R) meets with Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, at Emirates Palace. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi announced plans for a new two-gigawatt (GW) solar energy plant to be built in the Al Dhafra region, while addressing the opening session of the two-day Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting at Emirates Palace on Sunday.

"I am excited to announce a new 2 gigawatt solar project in the Al Dhafra region here in Abu Dhabi. This will eclipse the record-breaking 1GW Noor Abu Dhabi Plant," said Al Zeyoudi.

“It’s one of the largest projects currently under tendering,” Al Zeyoudi told Gulf News after his speech.

“We are welcoming companies to submit bids,” he added, while not commenting on time frames or costs. “It’s under process and we look forward to the bids.

“We have targets and will continue on a yearly basis to come up with new projects to achieve these targets. The bid is open to everyone,” he said on whether the project was going to local or international firms.

Noor Abu Dhabi, the world's largest single solar project, with a capacity of 1,177-MW, started commercial operations on the eve of the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting.

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, Dr Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Shamma bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake at youth dialoge with youth delegates from around the World at the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting at Emirates Palace hotel on Sunday 30/06/2019. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres welcomed the UAE’s commitment in an address that poured scorn on the efforts of other nations to move away from using fossil fuels.

“Sadly it’s not yet plain for all decision-makers around the world to see,” said Guterres. “Even if countries keep their promises, we still face at least a three degree temperature rise by the end of the century that will be a catastrophe for life as we know it.

“Even more worrying is that many countries aren’t keeping pace with their promises under the Paris Agreement and that’s why we are convening in September,” he added of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, which this event in Abu Dhabi acts as a precursor to.

“Scientists say we have less than 12 years to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century, beyond which we’ll face irreversible climate disruption.

“We need a post carbon, resilient society that can only be achieved if we all pull together. My message of this summit is clear and simple, we are in the battle of our lives but it is a battle that can be won.

“New technology is already lower cost than fossil fuel economies, and solar and off shore wind farms are the cheapest source of new power. On that subject I look forward to seeing the Noor Abu Dhabi solar power plant today and also commend the work of renewable agencies hosted by Abu Dhabi in supporting countries in transition to a sustainable future.”

Al Zeyoudi had earlier announced targets of reducing UAE emissions by 75 per cent by 2050, and boasted donations totalling $1 billion (Dh3.7 billion) to the cause of developing nations.

“There is movement, but unfortunately at a world level it’s not yet enough,” said Guterres. “That’s what I hope to change at the climate action summit, and the message is clear: solutions exist.

“We need a green economy not a grey economy,” he added.

“New infrastructure must be climate smart with sustainable, clean and affordable energy. What we need is a change in the way we do business, generate power, build cities and fuel the world,” he added before announcing that he wanted plans to be submitted in New York as to how each country would reduce greenhouse emissions to by 45 per cent by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.