Sun 26-07-2020 16:57 PM
By Binsal Abdulkader
ABU DHABI, 26th July, 2020 (WAM) -- Renewable energy and green economy as the two main driving forces will lead the United Arab Emirates to "sustainable and green recovery," a senior official told Emirates News Agency, WAM.
"The UAE leadership is committed to using the current situation as an opportunity to reinforce the country’s development plans and raise its climate ambitions," said Eng. Fahed Al Hammadi, Acting Assistant Undersecretary for the Green Development and Climate Change Sector at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MOCCAE.
"I see renewable energy and the green economy as the two main driving forces of our efforts," he told WAM in an interview.
"During my engagements across multiple online platforms over the past few months and in discussions with my colleagues from around the world, I have found out that many countries share our desire for a sustainable and green recovery," Al Hammadi revealed.
National climate change plan
"On the global level, we also actively participate in climate negotiations and support the deployment of renewable energy solutions. To date, we have invested in renewable energy ventures across 70 countries that have a total value of over US$16.8 billion."
On the home front, the UAE remains dedicated to meeting the goals of the National Climate Change Plan of the UAE 2017-2050, and is on track in its climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, he said.
Accelerating renewables deployment brings substantial economic, health, and environmental benefits, the official pointed out.
Renewables on track
"Major renewable energy projects in the UAE are on track. By 2050, the country aims to increase the share of clean energy – solar and nuclear – to 50 percent of the installed power capacity," Al Hammadi emphasised.
He highlighted "some very promising new developments," such as the upcoming world’s largest solar power plant (2 gigawatt) in Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra region. The winning bid for the project at 1.35 US cents per kilowatt-hour broke the world record for the lowest solar power generation cost.
World record in renewables
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, DEWA, recently awarded the contract for the fifth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park to a consortium of companies at 1.69 US cents per kilowatt-hour. This is the world’s lowest price for solar photovoltaic projects based on the independent power producer, IPP, model, and the fifth time DEWA has broken this record, he pointed out.
The 5.6 Gigawatt Barakha nuclear power plant, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s plan to expand its carbon capture, utilisation, and storage capacity six-fold by 2030, several waste-to-energy projects, adopting energy efficiency technologies, and exploring hydrogen as a source of energy are also important steps in this direction, Al Hammadi explained.
The current health situation has revealed the possible impacts of such global crises on human lives and livelihoods, and supply chains and markets, which highlights the urgency to address climate change and avert its worst fallout, he said.
The pandemic has exposed a link between the human impact on wildlife and the spread of infectious diseases, which calls for living in harmony with surrounding ecosystems by protecting biodiversity, the official noted.
The UAE has made great strides on this front, in line with the National Biodiversity Strategy.
"With various types of ecosystems, including coral reefs, seagrass, mangroves, tidal flats, and sand dunes, the country is home to 3,787 species today, and we are committed to preserving them for future generations."
Global first in marine conservation
"This year, we have designated five new protected areas in the UAE and expanded one. We now have 49 protected areas that take up 15.5 percent of our total territory," Al Hammadi explained.
"Our biodiversity protection efforts transcend borders – the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund has provided grants worth more than US$20 million to support the conservation of 1,350 endangered species in 160 countries," he said.
The UAE ranks first globally in Marine Protected Areas, according to the Environmental Performance Index, EPI, he pointed out.
Marine protected areas account for 12.01 percent of total marine territory, while terrestrial protected areas cover 18.4 percent of land.
UN sustainable development goals
Talking about the UAE’s commitment towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, the official said achieving the SDGs is integral to the UAE’s development plans, and to MOCCAE’s climate and environmental efforts.
As part of the implementation of the UAE Green Agenda 2030, the MOCCAE is currently developing the UAE National Plan for Sustainable Consumption and Production (2019-2030) in collaboration with its strategic partners from the public and private sectors.
The ongoing National Climate Change Adaptation Programme, NCCAP, supports multiple SDGs as it aims to assess the impacts of climate change on key sectors, identify risks that demand urgent action, and develop well-informed adaptation measures.
With the implementation of this programme, the Ministry seeks to make the UAE one of the most climate-resilient countries in the world, Al Hammadi stressed.
Environmental Performance initiative
"Sustainable cities and communities are also at the core of our Enhancing Environmental Performance initiative that unifies the efforts of UAE entities to implement the environmental impact assessment process with the objective of improving the country’s ranking in global competitiveness indices in line with the UAE Centennial 2071," he said.
At the international arena, the UAE disbursed AED28.62 billion in foreign assistance aimed at supporting the SDGs in 2018, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
"We are dedicated to continuing this work in line with the UAE Policy for Foreign Assistance 2017-2021," the official said.