The UAE has the dubious distinction of having the world's highest per capita carbon footprint for the third time in a row, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
As reported in The National yesterday, the latest list ranks the country as a worse offender than regional neighbours in the Gulf or the United States. "This is to be expected, given that the UAE is a rapidly developing country that is investing heavily in construction, infrastructure development, provision of water, electricity and food, which has resulted in an increasing rate of consumption of natural resources, particularly energy," said Razan al Mubarak, the managing director of the Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wide Fund for Nature.
The relentless development of the country's infrastructure is a significant factor in the UAE's placement, but that could change in the coming years. The recent decision by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) to finish 48 projects, and cancel many others, should reduce the carbon emissions from the construction sector in Dubai.
At the same time, future projects in the Emirates will have to adhere to strict environmental restrictions designed to curb emissions. Officials are also calling on the population to do its share. "We encourage every citizen and resident to help us reduce our ecological footprint," Majid al Mansouri, the secretary general of Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) said yesterday.
In that sense, a major way that residents can help reduce their individual footprint is by increasing their use of public transport, something that local officials, especially in Dubai, continue to promote heavily. In the last few years the RTA has launched the Dubai Metro and significantly expanded bus routes. With more metro stations set to open and the tram project in Dubai Marina to be completed by 2014, the aim of reducing the number of cars on the road, per capita at least, is an achievable one.
Considering the report relied on data from 2007, initiatives like Masdar, the nationwide Union Railway, superior public transport and the civilian nuclear energy programme should see the UAE knocked off the top spot for its carbon emissions in the near future.