x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Doha talks give Gulf chance to clear the air

Climate change talks in Doha later this month will give the UAE a chance to change misconceptions that Gulf countries are trying to thwart progress on global warming.

The UAE government will be able to show the world the progress it is making with environmental issues and dispel misconceptions about the region at climate-change talks in Doha this month.

Arabian Gulf countries are often regarded as being solely dependent on oil for economic development, without care for its environmental effects, says Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, director of energy and climate change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But Dr Al Zeyoudi hopes delegates arriving in Doha for the 18th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will see a very different side to the UAE and the region.

“In the UAE, we are diversifying our economy,” he said.

The Doha summit will “be an opportunity to showcase the initiatives and projects we are doing in the country. It is going to be an opportunity for us to send the right message”, Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

The Government is hoping to display achievements such as those by Abu Dhabi’s clean-energy company Masdar, which is investing in renewable energy in the country and abroad.

Dubai’s plan for generating renewable energy, announced this year, is also likely to feature.

A key topic in Doha will be how to continue the Kyoto Protocol, which expires this year, under which developed countries pledged cuts in emissions while developing countries were given a way to fund clean projects.

At last year’s climate conference in Durban, South Africa, world governments agreed to commit to a second term of the protocol, said Beatrix Schmuelling, a team leader at Masdar and part of the UAE delegation to the talks.

This year, countries need to decide what that commitment will involve.

A treaty that will take effect from 2020, requiring developed and developing countries to reduce greenhouse emissions, will also be on the table.

“We are reaching an important moment in the climate-change discussions,” said Ms Schmuelling.

Continuing the Kyoto Protocol is of the utmost importance to the UAE, Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

“We would like to ensure the Kyoto Protocol will not end by 2012,” he said. “Parties who are coming to Qatar have to come with the best intentions of continuing Kyoto.”

Dr Al Zeyoudi was speaking on the sidelines of an event discussing the role of Arab women in battling climate change.

The event was hosted in Dubai yesterday by the directorate of energy and climate change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Masdar, and the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice.

“I firmly believe women have a very important and indeed a central role to play in addressing the challenges of climate change, energy and sustainability,” said Ms Robinson, a former president of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In developing countries, women are most affected by climate change as they are the “primary food producers and providers of water”.

Ms Robinson said the European Union was drafting a motion to increase the representation of women in climate-change discussions, and that this motion would be put to delegates in Doha.

vtodorova@thenational.ae