Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi signs on behalf of the UAE the Paris Climate Agreement, which was adopted in December 2015, at a signing ceremony at the UN in New York on Saturday. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: In a bid to mitigate and limit climate change, the UAE has joined over 170 countries to sign the Paris Climate Agreement during a high-level signing ceremony in New York on Saturday.

The ceremony was convened by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and is the first step in implementing the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015.

The Paris Agreement will govern climate action after 2020 through a flexible framework that allows countries to determine their own measures. Starting in May 2016, parties to the United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will begin a multi-year process of detailing the agreement to find fair and innovative ways to incentivise all countries, developed and developing, to reach their greatest climate action ambitions.

During his statement at the signing ceremony, Dr Thani Bin Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, outlined the voluntary steps that the UAE is undertaking to diversify its economy into knowledge-driven industries, particularly through the UAE Vision 2021, Green Growth Strategy and Innovation Strategy.

“These comprehensive strategies and plans will not only yield emission reduction benefits, but they also help safeguard our economy for future generations,” Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

On the sidelines of the signing ceremony, the UAE and Morocco signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at enhancing cooperation on climate change issues and addressing global sustainability challenges. The MoU builds on the UAE’s bilateral ties with Morocco, which will host the 22nd session of the Conference of Parties (COP22) of the UNFCCC at Marrakech, Morocco in November.

The UAE delegation also met its counterparts from Australia, Canada, France, Madagascar, Maldives and Philippines to discuss areas of cooperation.

Dr Al Zeyoudi also met the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael Bloomberg, to explore what cities can do to combat climate change.

Razan Al Mubarak, secretary-general to the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), who was also part of the delegation, said that the EAD is now calling for an urgent and multi-stakeholder approach to climate change that balances the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, decouple carbon dioxide from economic growth, adapt to a changing climate, and engage residents to do their part in addressing this great challenge.

The signing of the Paris Agreement is a significant step forward on the path to ensure that global warming is limited to the critical threshold of two degrees above pre-industrial temperatures. The UAE and all the other nations that have submitted and committed to Intended National Determined Contributions (INDCs) will now need to act decisively, innovate, and collaborate with other nations to curb their emissions.