x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

UAE keen on credits for carbon capture

The UAE wants developed countries to take the lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions under a new UN treaty climate change.

The UAE is urging the developed world to meet its climate change obligations, ahead of the UN meeting to form a treaty that will replace the Kyoto Protocol. The protocol, which went into effect in 2005, expires in 2012 and the meeting, in Copenhagen at the end of the year, is intended to result in a new agreement. The UAE's position on how the world should address global warming is similar to that of other members of Opec, said Dr Waleed Mohamed Hamad el Malik, the legal adviser at the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi.

Dr el Malik said the UAE's policy is that industrial countries need to make sure they stick to their own commitments first before pressing for cuts in developing nations. "Developing countries should not take any commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "The developed countries are still lagging behind in reducing their emissions and are not taking serious steps to fulfil their obligations under Kyoto.

"Big countries such as the US, which are not part of Kyoto, should take similar steps domestically so as not to discourage other countries." Dr el Malik said the targets place a burden on industries and, if major economic powers do not join, industries in countries that have signed are at a disadvantage. The Kyoto Protocol, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, set mandatory targets for emission reductions in 37 industrialised countries. The rest of the more than 140 countries that signed and ratified the protocol are obliged only to report their emissions.

Critics of the protocol say more nations should commit to reducing emissions. India and China, both classified as developing countries but predicted to become major polluters, have been controversial. China's emissions are one reason the US government gave for not signing the treaty. A study by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency concluded that China, which in 2006 released 6,200 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, has already surpassed the US, which released 5,800 million tonnes that year.

But while the US, the largest per capita carbon dioxide emitter in the world, has been taking some measures under public pressure to cut emissions, its refusal to commit to Kyoto is discouraging other big polluters. The UAE will also insist on including carbon capture and storage in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a UN initiative under which industrialised nations sponsors carbon-reduction projects in developing countries.

Projects that are proven to reduce greenhouse gases, such as energy efficiency and forest management, are awarded credits through the CDM, which can then be sold internationally. The UAE says that carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, which remove carbon dioxide from fossil fuels or emissions and bury it deep underground, should also receive credits through the CDM. Other countries with strong energy industries, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia and Norway, also back the proposal, but no decision on the matter was taken in a recent round of talks in Poland because of opposition from some countries that say CCS is unproven and would encourage the use of more fossil fuels.

Dr el Malik said the opposition is commercially based, as governments were trying to defend projects in which tree plantations have been developed as carbon sinks. "There is fierce opposition from certain developing countries, especially Brazil," he said. "They are delaying the negotiations. They think this might affect their projects. "Their projects are not attractive to investors. If CCS is introduced, no one will take a sink project."

Eleven projects in the UAE have applied for credits under the CDM. The projects, in energy efficiency, reclaiming landfill and gas-flare reduction, are still being evaluated by UN experts. The amount of credits the UAE could receive would increase substantially if CCS is approved. One local company that would gain from such a decision is Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, which plans to collect 6.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year from 2013.

Dr el Malik said the UAE also insists that developed countries help developing ones in the adoption of new technologies in clean energy, waste management and reclaiming landfill. vtodorova@thenational.ae