Dubai: A knowledge report published by the World Government Summit (WGS) has called upon countries and governments around the world to intensify their efforts in fulfilling their commitments to achieve carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reduction goals in key national sectors.
Titled ‘Path to net zero: Priorities for governments,’ the WGS report says “the concepts of net zero and decarbonisation have evolved to be commitments signed by the highest authorities in every sector”. The report, published in partnership with Arthur D. Little, also pointed out that “there is no going back anymore as the world is facing a difficult task”.
However, the report stressed that “the opportunity is still available for governments to turn the scales on climate change and achieve national ambitions for the future — thanks to strong determination and fast-changing technologies and strategies”. The report ruled out any significant imminent decline in carbon emissions, as on the contrary, the latest report issued by the United Nations Environment Programme titled ‘The Emissions Gap Report 2021’ indicates that the world is rapidly heading towards a temperature increase of 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.
The report noted that “even after all new national climate pledges are taken into account, and in the best-case scenarios, the pace of temperature increase can be reduced to 1.8 degrees Celsius if countries truly live up to their commitments and adhere to all relevant national long-term strategies.”
Commenting on the report, Mohamed Yousef Al Sharhan, deputy managing director of World Governments Summit Organisation, said: “The organisation is committed to keep pace with top global issues that concern governments, and support decision-makers through in-depth studies, exchange of knowledge, experiences and research in order to address existing challenges and anticipate their future paths.”
Promoting constructive dialogues
He added: “This report promotes constructive dialogue on an important issue facing the world today, which is net zero and the consequent policies that are not limited to governments but require the participation of everyone. Through a different approach that enhances public-private partnerships and changes consumer priorities, production methods, and resource handling, governments can lead societies towards a sustainable future in which climate change is controlled and transforms the commitment into an opportunity to launch new economic sectors with advanced knowledge and technology that empower societies globally.”
Thomas Kuruvilla, managing partner, Arthur D. Little, said: “Our latest report, in partnership with the World Government Summit Organisation, comes at a turning point for governments to exchange best practices and overcome key challenges on the path to net zero. Commitments to achieving net-zero emissions were made by over 130 countries at the end of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (or COP26) held in Glasgow in late 2021. With breakthrough innovations underway, there are many areas where governments can create new national economic opportunities in the future as well as help to decarbonise the sectors.”
Framework for implementation
The report recommended the adoption of a comprehensive framework that will aid governments in implementing net zero initiatives, covering six key dimensions, namely; governance, net-zero policies and laws, research and development and innovation, technology, financing and incentives.
In terms of governance, the report pointed out that “the national governance model will need to ensure inclusiveness so that each individual, regardless of their position or profession, will benefit from this transformation in the future, and be responsible for their contribution to this success. Based on the context of the country and the governmental structure, a central and inclusive body can be adopted to develop and be responsible for implementing planned programmes and initiatives to achieve net zero.”
Regarding net-zero policies and laws, the report explained that governments “will need to introduce appropriate, integrated and comprehensive policies and tools to ensure that all sectors are organised in the right direction. An integrated energy policy is necessary to ensure that renewable energy sources and any energy cleaning technology strategies (such as those related to hydrogen) are compatible with each other”.
In terms of research, development and innovation, it highlighted that these “are essential factors for reducing emissions, and accordingly countries will need to strengthen their policies, frameworks and spending on research and development in this field”.
As for technology, the report said: “There is no doubt that the technological leaps globally will help planned programmes and initiatives gradually achieve the goals of net zero, but will need to be constantly monitored and studied to ensure economic feasibility and reduce market and technology risks.”
On financing and incentives, the report indicated that “each government will have to deal with the need for financing to achieve its commitment to net zero and to find the appropriate mix and mechanism, including the participation of the private sector.”
Leading international experiences
The report presented lessons learned from several leading experiences, most notably the experience of the United Kingdom, which has set a goal of becoming home of the “green industrial revolution”.
The report touched on the UK’s experience in terms of developing innovative and environmentally-friendly equipment and tools for the future of net zero. By engaging with the private sector and developing laws, the report added that it would shift consumer demand towards environmentally friendly products.
Presenting the experience of the United States in this regard, the report stated that achieving the goal of net zero in the largest economy in the world will require transformations in five main areas, namely: Decarbonising the electricity sector, and then transferring this across sectors to electric power, as well as reducing energy waste, cutting methane emissions and developing technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
UAE: A unique experience through four tracks
The report explored the UAE’s ambitions that aim to achieve net zero by 2050. The UAE became one of the few nations among the top 10 oil producers, and the first in the MENA region, to officially make such a bold pledge.
The UAE is working towards achieving its objectives through four main tracks, namely; the energy track, where the UAE Energy Strategy 2050 targets increasing the share of clean or sustainable energy in the overall energy mix to 50 per cent by 2050, while mitigating the carbon footprint of energy generation by 70 per cent.
The second is the industrial track, where the UAE is working towards increasing the industrial sector’s GDP contribution to Dh300 billion through the national strategy for industry and advanced technology. This strategy aims to harness innovations in treatment technology to mainstream the use of alternative fuels and green solutions, alongside waste recycling.
For the mobility track, the UAE is drawing numerous road maps for adopting the most advanced mobility technologies and solutions. The UAE has taken key steps towards this goal with the launch of the National Smart Mobility Strategy 2030, which will stimulate policy development towards a seamless mobility ecosystem, and the environment track, where the UAE is exerting strenuous efforts by supporting many strategies and initiatives such as the National Biodiversity Strategy and laws to safeguard marine life. The UAE is also developing waste-to-energy and circular economy initiatives, alongside habitat restoration and sustainable agriculture programmes.
Five key areas for governments to focus
The report advised governments to consistently monitor five key areas: Effective planning, stakeholder inclusivity, sustainable financing and capacity building, efficient monitoring and reporting, and continuous improvement. It added that nations need to maintain a mindset that prioritises continuous improvement and an approach that motivates adaptive learning in an ever-changing landscape.