Dubai: The UAE is poised to take a leadership role in showing the world how to transition from a high carbon-based economy to a green economy, an expert said yesterday.

A country with a green economy operates on renewable resources such as wind and solar energy, resulting in a society and businesses with zero carbon emissions. This is the exact opposite of the traditional “black” energy economy that is dependent on carbon-intensive fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum.

“At the moment, the UAE stands at the lower end of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations in terms of green economy,” Professor Douglas Crawford-Brown, Director of Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research, told Gulf News during the sixth Green Economy Annual Conference on Monday.

“However, the UAE has unprecedented resources to be able to move towards the front end of that pack and not only join Germany but probably move past Germany in terms of developing a green economy,” Crawford-Brown, who is also a speaker at the event, added.

According to the Global Green Economy Index 2014, Germany and other Nordic countries continue to dominate the index both in terms of performance and perceptions.

“Well, this is not a surprise because the UAE has been leading the way and, as you can see now, we are hosting our sixth annual conference on green economy,” Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, Minister of Environment and Water, said. “The UAE has taken firm steps toward transforming itself into a green economy.”

This includes reducing flaring of natural gas from the oil and gas industry, constructing the Mohammad Bin Rashid Solar Park, installing the region’s first onshore wind farm, greening buildings and some factories, among others, based on the first UAE State of Green Economy Report.

Bin Fahd admitted that funding and investing are major challenges to sustainable development in general, particularly in achieving a green economy. The lack of funding and insufficient investments is some of the reasons why sustainable development has not fully taken flight in some countries. But in the UAE, Bin Fahd said, the government has started working with its banks to offer options to investors to invest in greening the economy.

“The banking sector in the UAE has already started discussions to issue Sukuk (Islamic bond) aimed at financing green energy projects. This is a prospect for further investments in the field of green economy …” Saeed Al Hamiz, Assistant Governor of the UAE Central Bank, said.