Marrakesh: The UAE’s global commitment to boost renewable energy production to 27 per cent by 2021 of its national energy mix is on the right track to help the world stave off rising global greenhouse gases, said senior UAE delegates at the United Nations Climate Change Conference here in Morocco on Sunday.
A delegation of more than 100 members of the UAE public and private sector are attending the Conference of the Parties (COP22) to help prepare a new “rule book” which will guide Paris Agreement efforts to hold temperature increases to less than 2 degrees Celsius in the century ahead.
One of the biggest challenges facing delegations from the around the world in the coming days lies in reducing the use of fossil fuels in favour or eco-friendly renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and power to reduce the carbon dioxide emission loads into the atmosphere.
Speaking at the opening of the World Climate Summit on Sunday, Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), presented the 2017 State of the Green Economy Report which outlines efforts under way across the UAE to reduce the country’s footprint.
In an interview, Al Tayer told Gulf News that he was optimistic that efforts by Dewa to use more renewables could provide up to nearly one-third of the target set by the UAE for total renewable energy use.
Renewables, efficiencies, supply and demand side management programmes are the way forward, he said, to meet the UAE commitment.
“These are government initiatives like retrofit buildings, we’re talking power line loss, water line loss, district cooling. We are meeting growth with green energy and also we have curbed demand down to reduce supply by 30 per cent,” Al Tayer told Gulf News.
“I think we will reach over 10 per cent [of UAE’s 27 per cent commitment], our target is seven, because of Shams Dubai by 2020,” Al Tayer said.
Adnan Z. Ameen, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) headquartered in Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News that he believes the 27 per cent energy target set by the UAE is sound.
Increasing the renewable energy in the UAE and around the world is the best way to cut fossil fuel emissions and, in turn, lower the rising global temperatures over time.
He noted that doubling the global share “of renewable energy to 36 per cent by 2030 would provide half of the emission reductions needed to stay on the 2C degree path. Energy efficiency measures could provide the rest”, he said.
“This is the new thing, it’s a multifaceted economically viable road map to a sustainable road for the UAE,” Ameen said.
Speaking to delegates on Sunday, Ebrahim Al Zubi, Head of Sustainability at UAE’s Majid Al Futtaim, said the writing is on the wall when it comes to finding ways to become more efficient, not only to reduce costs and green operations but to also be attractive to young consumers.
“Sixty per cent of our region does care about green building and what renewables are all about,” he said, noting the company has been working for five years toward greener building efficiencies.
“Two months ago, we published a white paper with a [green] commitment of five per cent renewables and 7.5 per cent for new assets,” he told delegates in a panel session.
Al Zubi said that by December, the company “will issue a 25-year plan where we focus on Co2 emissions and energy”.
Panellist Bill Weihl, director, Sustainability, for Facebook, said that the social media giant is making all efforts to eventually be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy only.
“Five years ago, we made a commitment to be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy,” he said, noting that while the company didn’t meet its target, it is still working toward that goal.
By building super efficient servers and other infrastructure, Facebook hit 35 per cent total renewable energy in 2015 and officials hope to hit 50 per cent by 2018.
“We’re doing this to build awareness because a lot of companies still think it’s too expensive,” said Weihl.
The UN Climate Change Conference continues until November 18.