Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 May 2019

Dubai determined to hit climate goal

C40 Cities gathering delivers its simple message on what UAE citizens can do.
Dubai’s pursuit of carbon neutral status and goals reaches into all aspect of citizens lives, including the food they eat, how it is produced and the waste it may generate. Paulo Vecina / The National
Dubai’s pursuit of carbon neutral status and goals reaches into all aspect of citizens lives, including the food they eat, how it is produced and the waste it may generate. Paulo Vecina / The National

DUBAI // Work is being “aggressively pursued” to make sure that Dubai meets the global goal to make all major cities carbon neutral by 2050 – part of the plan to restrict climate change to less than 2°C from pre-industrial levels.

At the C40 Cities meeting, Abdulla Al Shaibani, secretary general of Dubai Executive Council, identified the areas where Dubai and other cities must prepare if they are to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Increasing pollution that degrades air quality, desertification from rising temperatures and the destruction of marine habitats from a regional surge in desalination are among the key challenges.

“We have a lot of consumption as a result of habits – I wouldn’t say bad, but habits we have adopted,” said Mr Al Shaibani. “We have to change habits and we have to change culture. We will come up with a plan, with targets. We will end up having a lot of policies and pressure to change the basic habits of every individual.”

The plan is expected to be completed by the end of the year and take effect soon after.

It will promote increased use of public transport, encourage decision-making based on the environment and cut consumption, especially food waste.

Identifying global warming as an influence on every resident’s life, the secretary general was keen on providing the link between climate change adaptation and quality of life.

“Hopefully, the adaptation plan will give a clear picture of the challenges. It will create a proper road map to understanding the real challenges and how much everyone is contributing and of course making solutions,” he said.

As a member of C40, a network of cities that is committed to addressing climate change, Dubai will be advised and given direct contact with other cities.

“Every city has its own breath, but there are key connections in mitigation techniques. Waste is everywhere, and its proper management is key,” said the Aqel Biltaji, mayor of Amman, Jordan, whose city was the first in the region to implement a climate change adaptation plan.

Mr Biltaji’s city set up a waste-to-energy plant that helped deal with the waste produced by hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have sought refuge in the country.

Dr Kevin Austin, deputy executive director of C40 Cities, said that Dubai was on its way to meeting its target of carbon neutrality.

“The way that renewables are changing, it’s at a remarkable pace,” he said. “This trend will continue. I expect countries to look at it and say that they are able to deliver on carbon neutrality by 2050,” he said.

Critics said these plans mean cities and countries are accepting climate change by providing a momentary relief, not necessarily a solution.

“You have to do both – it’s absolutely vital that cities mitigate against climate change, reduce their CO2, which is why we produced the deadline 2020 report, to say that all cities need to be carbon neutral,” said Dr Austin.

“But we also have to adapt to make sure we protect our cities because if you don’t all the measures we put in to reducing CO2 will be washed away.”

If cities are able to become carbon neutral by 2050, global warming will only increase by 1.5°C and avoid a scenario where, for example, summers in the region could be so harsh that entire parts of coastal cities will be destroyed and food insecurity will increase.

nalwasmi@thenational.ae

Updated: January 23, 2017 04:00 AM

SHARE

SHARE