EAD leads initiatives in combatting climate change

EAD leads initiatives in combatting climate change

ABU DHABI, 1st May, 2023 (WAM) -- The UAE continues its pioneering efforts to combat climate change through various institutions that have implemented diverse initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increasing investment in clean energy, and launching various projects in the renewable energy sector.

In this report, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) will highlight the efforts of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) to reduce emissions and its related initiatives. The agency has adopted many technologies that help reduce the carbon footprint caused by industrial production and the economy, in general and is moving towards using renewable or low-carbon energy sources.

Technological solutions in the transportation sector include various options, such as increasing the number of electric vehicles (EV) and public transportation and using non-traditional fuel sources, such as hydrogen. In the water and electricity production sectors, solutions can be found in the areas of usage or production, such as increasing the contribution of new and renewable energy in energy production, reducing waste in the electricity and water sectors, and utilising modern technologies that consume less energy, including energy-efficient reverse osmosis techniques.

Regarding technologies for capturing and absorbing residual emissions, the agency is currently developing natural solutions for carbon absorption by expanding green areas and planting trees, including Mangrove trees, as well as utilising modern techniques for capturing and storing carbon underground, such as those used in the Riyada Project, which is a leading project aimed at collecting carbon dioxide gas, which is then used for underground oil wells.

New technologies are being researched and developed, such as those based on mixing natural materials with beach sand to interact with ocean waves, which results in the capture and storage of carbon. However, these technologies have limited potential for addressing remaining emissions, so it is essential to primarily work on reducing emissions before seeking solutions to absorb them.

The authority collaborates with eight specialist academic research universities in the country and several international institutions. This year, a strategic research plan will be developed to support existing research efforts and identify priorities and needs to address current research gaps. It will also develop national capabilities and capacities and promote cooperation with national and international institutions to connect the research system and ensure future integration.

To enhance scientific research on environmental issues that affect Abu Dhabi, the authority established the Abu Dhabi Environmental Research Network, which aims to establish a multidisciplinary community of researchers and innovators working together to enhance scientific knowledge about the environment and related issues in the emirate.

The network aims to facilitate the exchange of expertise, adopt the best practices, build partnerships and collaborate on research projects. It also invites environmental specialists, scientists and experts to work together to address knowledge gaps and conduct specialist research using the latest scientific tools and advanced technologies.

On the other hand, the UAE and Abu Dhabi have established a roadmap and goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, the first country in the region. Relevant entities in the emirate are also drafting plans, in partnership with the private sector, to reduce emissions. They are working to encourage community participation through awareness and empowerment programmes, which will enable the emirate to achieve this critical goal.

The authority explained that achieving zero carbon emissions means that the total amount of carbon emissions resulting from human activities must be equal to zero. No greenhouse gases must be introduced into the atmosphere, while achieving net-zero emissions means reducing emissions to the lowest possible level and balancing remaining emissions through natural carbon removal techniques, including planting trees that absorb carbon, such as Mangrove trees, or through industrial carbon removal techniques, such as capturing carbon from source, reusing it and storing it, or directly extracting carbon from the air, as well as supporting projects that lead to carbon reduction.

According to the agency, several measures must be implemented to achieve net-zero emissions, including adopting initiatives to mitigate emissions caused by the major sectors that cause them. For example, there are measures to transition from reliance on fossil fuels to reliance on renewable energy in electricity generation, such as related projects implemented and planned by Abu Dhabi, including Shams Abu Dhabi and the Al Dhafra PV2 Solar Power Plant, in addition to setting ambitious targets for transitioning to clean energy, which was announced by the EAD and the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy in 2022.

Technologies that reduce emissions from industrial processes, such as the Riyada Project between Emirates Steel Arkan and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), and the use of low-carbon transportation to encourage the adoption of low-emission vehicles and electric cars while reducing emissions generated by the oil and gas sector through various initiatives, including the transition to peaceful nuclear energy sources to reduce the use of fossil fuel in energy production consumed by ADNOC's operations. Emissions can also be reduced in less impactful sectors, such as agriculture and waste, while in the area of carbon removal, there are many available measures based on natural solutions, such as planting trees or those involving carbon injection technologies in the subsurface, where carbon can be disposed of in the oil and gas sector.

Technology plays a crucial role in achieving net-zero or carbon neutrality, renewable energy technologies can replace fossil fuels in some sectors to reduce carbon emissions, and EVs can help reduce emissions from the transportation sector. In addition, advanced industrial and sustainable building technologies can reduce emissions in the industrial and building sectors, and technology can enable carbon removal or negative emissions through various means, such as carbon capture and storage.

Technology can also monitor, mitigate, track and report emissions, which are crucial to measuring the effectiveness of measures adopted to achieve net-zero emissions.

In general, technology can accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy by offering solutions to reduce emissions, facilitating carbon removal and monitoring progress. However, the use of technology must be accompanied by appropriate policies and regulations to drive this transition.

As part of its commitment to the sustainability vision of the UAE government, Abu Dhabi is leading a group of projects aimed at reducing the impact of climate change. The emirate has made significant efforts to draft an ambitious strategy linked to achieving the climate neutrality in the country by 2050.

Abu Dhabi's strategy focuses on climate action leadership, including promoting resilience, reducing emissions and adopting innovative low-carbon solutions to achieve its emission reduction targets.

In 2013, the authority launched the Abu Dhabi Blue Carbon Demonstration Project in collaboration with key partners, such as the United Nations Environment Programme. The project facilitated the study of the importance of mangroves and their role in combatting climate change through carbon sequestration. It also affirmed the importance of blue carbon habitats and ecosystems, including Mangrove, seagrasses, salt marshes, algal mats and coastal carbonates in Abu Dhabi.

The study revealed that Mangrove trees in Abu Dhabi contain 98 tonnes of carbon per hectare, equivalent to 1.7 million tonnes for a total area of 17,500 hectares of Mangrove in Abu Dhabi. The project was later expanded to cover other emirates in the country to determine Mangrove's national carbon storage capacity.

In 2020, the "Trial Assessment of Mangrove Soil Carbon Sequestration Rates in the United Arab Emirates " was conducted to assess carbon sequestration rates in the soil of Mangrove tree forests in the UAE. The results revealed that Mangrove trees sequester carbon at a rate of 0.5 tonnes per hectare annually, equivalent to 8,750 tonnes for a 17,500-hectare area of Mangroves in Abu Dhabi, in addition to the carbon stored in the Mangrove ecosystem.

During COP26, the UAE announced a national plan to plant 100 million Mangrove by 2030, while Abu Dhabi unveiled ambitious plans in February 2022 to make the emirate a global centre for research and innovation in conservation through the launch of the “Mangrove Initiative.”

The initiative aims to provide a platform for developing innovative solutions for Mangrove tree cultivation, which will help mitigate the effects of climate change, raise awareness of their importance and the need for their restoration, and establish an advanced Mangrove tree nursery in Abu Dhabi, to make the emirate a centre for related research and studies.

The agency is partnering with the Department of Energy to achieve progress in Abu Dhabi's energy mix and lower carbon emissions in the emirate by drafting new regulatory frameworks for generating a significant proportion of Abu Dhabi's electricity from clean and renewable sources by 2035, which is a crucial step towards realising the UAE's goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.