Dubai Harvesting Green Economy

Waleed Salman

Dubai rumbles on enroute its ambitions to become the Green Capital of the world, as Dubai Carbon Center of Excellence ramps up plans after a successful 2014, with a forum and knowledge product on Green Economy, measurement and verification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions for 2014.

Dubai has made rapid strides in “green economy innovation”. I refer to it as an innovation because of the shift in thinking the emirate is going through. 2014 was a successful year, because UAE is moving towards a low carbon economy and the Dubai Carbon Center of Excellence is actively involved by facilitating the transition.

2014 saw Green Economic Development Taking up Pace

The ‘State of Green Economy Report’ released a few months ago, contains scores of valuable data, for the various projects undertaken by the Emirate of Dubai. Dubai Carbon created the platform on behalf of the World Green Economy Summit committee and invited several thought-leaders and industry experts to discourse on the focus areas when greening economies. While the Report was a crucial pivot point to orchestrate the movement, it goes above and beyond enlisting Dubai’s green credentials. The Report is an active guide to every country’s economy around the world on how to successfully implement various measures to lower carbon footprint in their own backyard.

Then, the thrust towards green initiatives serves as the vantage point for Dubai’s ambitions to become the capital of green economy, in line with the global trend, of countries developing strategies and initiatives adhering to the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) ‘Green Economy Coalition’. As many as 65 countries are participating with deployment plans expected in a few years.

Dubai holds an edge owing to its early planning. Being one of the world’s newer cities, all government and semi-government bodies have been extremely proactive in enforcing strong environmental laws, then may it be for the real-estate sector, transport or energy production and conservation. Hence, Dubai will witness quick turnaround times, reaping the fruits of its efforts earlier than forecasted.

Clean Energy Scaling Up

To put things in perspective, let’s consider the world figures. By the end of 2013, global renewable power capacity exceeded 1,560 gigawatts (GW), equaling an 8.3% increase over 2012. Hydropower rose by 4% to approximately 1,000 GW, accounting for about one-third of renewable power capacity added during the year. Other renewables collectively grew nearly 17% to an estimated 560 GW. For the first time, more solar PV than wind power capacity was added worldwide. Overall renewables accounted for more than 56% of net additions.

Dubai is undertaking efforts to lead the charge across the region: the emirate has hosted two dedicated conferences on green economy in 2014, one of them being the World Green Economy Summit 2014 (WGES). As the most notable outcome of the summit, the Dubai Declaration, pledges a commitment to establish WGES as a long-term development platform, with the aim of establishing Dubai as “The Capital of the Green Economy”. The commitments made through this Declaration will be followed-up over the course of the coming year and serve as a point of departure for WGES 2015. A few of the commitments are: to sustain the engagements of stakeholders in preparation for WGES 2015, support the development of an innovative financing mechanism for green projects and investments, develop and showcase cutting-edge green innovation, and engage the youth in green economy activities.

A Data-based Roadmap

Dubai Carbon has been commissioned, for the second consecutive year, to compile a Greenhouse Gas Inventory, on a national level by the Ministry of Energy (MoENR) and for the third consecutive year for the Emirate of Dubai by the Supreme Council of Energy (with data from 2011, 2012 & 2013). During its first endeavor in 2009, the centre developed the process to annually calculate the Grid Emission Factors for electricity. It was soon evident that the re-occurring data streams were vital to derive trends and optimize the operational and business practice. Dubai Carbon has been running a Monitoring Reporting and Verification (MRV) platform for the Emirate of Dubai and the UAE as a whole, compiling annually the UAE Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory since 2012 (based on 2011 data) for Dubai, respectively 2013 (based on 2012 data) for the UAE. As a result, Dubai Carbon applied its environmental economics skills to derive both intelligence and economic trends out of the data consolidated.

The Ministry of Energy made the contribution of each sector to the GHG emissions of the UAE available in the UAE State of Energy Report 2015 this October with contributions from electricity and water of 35%, road and transport sector of 19%, oil and gas of 15%, Industrial sector aluminium of 8% and cement of 8%, waste of 6% agriculture of 1% and miscellaneous adding up to 8%. The Dubai Supreme Council of Energy has used the data and developed a road map through its working group: the ‘Carbon Abatement Committee’.

The Dubai ‘Carbon Abatement Committee

The Carbon Abatement Committee reviews the objectives and mechanisms, and provides strategic direction and recommendations in terms of carbon reduction, with the support of the Technical Committee and a working group of stakeholders, experts and decision makers. The Committee comprises key public organisations in the Emirate of Dubai and focuses on achieving its goals for energy, the city, roads and transportation, and aviation, as well as the gradual empowerment strategy to promote innovation in reducing carbon emissions.

Headed by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and its Vice-Chair, His Excellency Saeed Al Tayer, the committee reviewed and endorsed the carbon reduction strategy for Dubai to reduce carbon emissions by 16%, by the year 2021. The executive plan was presented by the Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence (DCCE) this October.

A strategy of this nature is the first of its kind in the region. It supports the UAE Vision 2021, which aims to transform the UAE to be one of the best countries in the world by 2021. It also supports the national long-term Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai to enhance competitiveness and economic sustainability of the UAE, and make it a global role model in sustainability and green initiatives. By complementing the Dubai Strategic Plan 2021, it assists to maintain Dubai’s leading position at the regional level and its competitiveness at the global level, as well as Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy to reduce energy consumption by 30% by 2030.

Today, transition to green economies is set in motion, irreversibly. We need to move fast to scale up and strengthen this momentum not only to make the Sustainable Energy for All a reality, but also to fulfill the legitimate needs and aspirations of humanity.

Waleed Salman, Ph.D. is Chairman of Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence

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