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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

UAE delegation at Cop 22 says action needed on agreements

Although no concrete resolutions were decided this year in Morocco, experts from the UAE said Cop 22 had proven governments were willing to take steps to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, leaves Morocco after participating in the Conference of Parties 22 UN environment summit. Wam
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, leaves Morocco after participating in the Conference of Parties 22 UN environment summit. Wam

MARRAKECH// As the Conference of Parties 22 UN environment summit comes to an end, delegates have been assessing what was achieved.

They said the meeting of delegates from 190 nations, including the UAE, to implement measures to prevent global warming had provided an idea of the amount of work ahead.

The summit followed the Paris Agreement last year, where 197 nations agreed to implement measures to ensure the Earth’s temperature did not rise by more than 2°C by 2050.

Although no concrete resolutions were decided this year in Morocco, experts from the UAE said Cop22 had proven governments were willing to try to meet the targets set in Paris.

Leading the UAE delegation was Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, along with Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment.

“Last year was different because the world was waiting for an agreement to bring everyone on board. The agreement was holistic but at the same time general,” Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

Now, he said, what was needed was the fine-tuning of those agreements to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“We need to see behavioural changes. It needs awareness, education, and commitments from every side. Luckily we have that where the federal government and other entities are aligned,” said Dr Al Zeyoudi.

“The second we see those behavioural changes it will have a huge impact, not only on the UAE but also the world,” he said.

Members of the Emirates Wildlife Society and World Wildlife Fund were also in ­Morocco, where they pushed for more use of renewable energies, such as solar and wind power.

“We want to understand is it feasible for the UAE to go 100 per cent renewable,” said Tanzeed Alam, climate and energy director at EWS-WWF.

“There’s a huge potential for total renewable energy in the UAE and no one has really put it out there.We want to make sure that our work isn’t just to create a report and put it on the shelf.”

The EWS-WWF is looking to work with the Government and the private sector to create that reality.

“Globally, if you look at all the pledges before the Paris Agreement, it would lead to a 3°C increase, we are nowhere near what’s required,” he said.

“The UAE can play a really important role here. By setting 100 per cent renewable [targets] the UAE can further consolidate its role in the region as a leader in renewables.”

He said that the business case for renewable energy was increasingly viable. A report this year by the Max Planck Society, a German non-profit association, said that if further steps were not taken the Middle East region could become so hot that human habitability would be comprised by 2050.

The report said that the temperatures here would increase two times faster compared with the average global warming.

Dr Nawal Al Hosany, executive director of sustainability at Masdar, said government entities and institutions were working on practical solutions.

“Participation is important, to show that we are not dropping the ball, that everyone reached the agreement last year and relaxed,” she said. “I think showing the conference our projects is key to encouraging everyone that now is the time for work.”

She said that the recognition of women as leaders, in the Women in Sustainability Environment and Renewable Energy project, which she leads for Masdar, was key in the success of the negotiations and implementation of the climate mitigation initiatives in the coming years. “Having everyone on board and building that capacity is key,” she said.

“Detailing the Paris Agreement, to get the numbers right, finances, the degree Celsius target, that will come out soon,” said Dr Al Zeyoudi. “Now we want to launch our initiatives because there is no time.”

nalwasmi@thenational.ae