Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi
Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Image Credit: Supplied

Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, today concluded a three-day visit to Washington.

During his visit, the Minister showcased the UAE’s leading efforts in climate action at bilateral meetings and panel discussions on the most important environmental and climate challenges facing the world.

The first item on the agenda was an interactive roundtable with the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, an independent nonprofit entity that provides expert research and analysis on the social, economic, and political dimensions of the GCC region and key neighboring countries.

During the session, Dr Al Zeyoudi presented an overview of the UAE’s early experience in transitioning to renewables that started at a time of widespread doubt about their viability and value, giving the country first-mover advantage and an excellent opportunity to emerge as a 21st century renewables superpower.

He also participated in a roundtable with members of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP), a US nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that trains the next generation of foreign policy leaders. Organized by the UAE Embassy in Washington, the roundtable involved a lively discussion between the Minister and the young audience that showed a keen interest in learning about the UAE’s efforts in tackling climate change as well as joint UAE-US ventures in renewables.

Maintaining the focus on youth, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi met with undergraduates and faculty members at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He answered their questions with enthusiasm on the UAE’s multifaceted approach to climate action at home and further afield, from deploying clean energy megaprojects and improving energy efficiency to driving green economy and preserving biodiversity.

Moreover, the Minister participated in a conference entitled ‘Future Projections for the Middle East: Game Changers for 2030 and Beyond’, organized by the Middle East Institute, a think tank with a mission to increase knowledge of the Middle East among US citizens and promote a better understanding between the people of these two regions. In his keynote address, he emphasised the UAE’s keenness to maintain a balance between man and environment that allows them both to thrive, which has been a priority throughout the country’s development journey.

Dr Al Zeyoudi said: “In 1972, about six months after the formation of the UAE, a delegation from the new country attended the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, the world’s first environmental mega-conference. The UAE’s founding father, late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, met with the members of the delegation before they embarked on their journey. He told them that while they were heading to Sweden as representatives of the UAE’s population, he expected them to speak for all the people of the world. And 1975 saw the birth of the UAE Supreme Committee on Environment that drafted the country’s first laws and regulations aimed at protecting the environment.”

He added: “The UAE was one of the first countries in the region to heed the climate change warning and ratify the Paris Agreement. Since then, we have followed a systematic approach towards climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

He also highlighted Masdar’s worldwide portfolio of renewable energy assets and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)’s carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS) project that captures 800,000 tons of CO2 a year from its operations.

Following his visit to Washington, Dr Al Zeyoudi will join the UAE delegation to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74) in New York and participate in the UN Climate Action Summit 2019.