Continuous real estate developments, almost round-the-clock air conditioning, rolling of new vehicles on roads nearly everyday and busy airline industry in the United Arab of Emirates (UAE)…. Certainly an overload on the ecosystem.
Despite all this, UAE has pioneered the art of maintaining an evenness in its ecology by adopting an assortment of eco-friendly practices and following world-class sustainable activities aimed at cutting carbon emissions significantly.
In fact, owing to its unmatched patterns, Emirates could act as a perfect role model for various other nations in the Gulf region, who are sharing the same environment challenges. UAE’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) aims at limiting emissions and increasing the share of clean energy in the energy mix to 24 percent by 2021, up from 0.2 percent in 2014.
To meet the challenge and address climate change while supporting the economy, the UAE is manifestly turning to embracing innovation and technological breakthroughs as main drivers of a green economy.
Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence, one of the forerunners in the field of innovations and green technology in the Emirates, is doing exemplary work in these sectors and is also quite enthused with the outcomes of recently concluded twenty-first session of the Conference of Parties (COP) in Paris that was aimed to fight climate change. As many as 193 member countries of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) convened in the COP to reach a universal, legally binding agreement to
reduce carbon emissions.
Paris agreement includes a strong long-term goal to reduce carbon emissions, limiting the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. Scientists claim that while 2-degree is required to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change, it will not be enough to save many of the world’s most vulnerable countries, which are aggressively pushing for the 1.5 degrees Celsius target to be included in the
The agreement also places a legal obligation on developed countries to provide climate finance to developing countries to support their efforts to fight climate change. The deal describes the sum as a ‘floor’ and is set at US$100 billion a year, beginning in 2020. The pact states that
participant countries are required to assess their efforts to reduce carbon emissions every five years and accordingly improve their existing efforts.
Another key goal of the Paris agreement is to ensure a transparent system that will ensure countries meet their promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This comes just as the Dubai Executive Council endorses Dubai’s first Carbon Abatement Strategy 2021.
Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence, also known as Dubai Carbon and which is closely following outcomes of Paris agreement, is a green economy and low carbon think tank established to fulfil a regional gap. It is a hub of creativity, innovation, research, technologies and specialises in the design and implementation of greenhouse gas reduction measures. It considers carbon dioxide gas as the denominator for resource efficiency and comparability across all business activities and industries. Emirates Business conducts an interview of the CEO of Dubai Carbon Ivano Ianelli, who opens up on many issues pertaining to Mother Earth.
EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW
Are you in favour of allocating a global annual budget to finance the green activities worldwide? If yes, then please elaborate on your views like how this could be materialised?
Dubai has made its pledge well ahead of the Paris Agreement. On November 29, 2015, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2050 which included a Dubai Green Fund of AED100 billion.
Furthermore, private and financial entities have pledged to scale up their investments in renewable and clean energy, green bonds, low-emission transport and agriculture.
These commitments recognise the need for a clean energy transition. Also, forward looking businesses are recognising the business opportunities that addressing climate change can offer. Dubai Carbon is already working with the investment community to create investment vehicles that aim at facilitating the maturity of relevant technologies and processes.
What could be the role of UAE, both in GCC as well as globally, while ensuring reduction in carbon emissions? How Dubai Carbon could contribute to this?
Dubai monitors and pilots commercial economically viable best practices that are fit for the region and acts as a front-runner and trendsetter in the region. At Dubai Carbon, we keep challenging best practices, and enable the GCC and the MENA region to replicate and scale success stories.
Can you throw some light on Dubai’s first Carbon Abatement
Strategy 2021 that is endorsed by Dubai Executive Council?
While the COP21 Paris agreement recognises the role of subnational levels of government, Dubai had already acted as a trendsetter by pursuing a green economy and low carbon strategy. The platform provided by the Paris agreement will only permit and encourage us to further enhance these actions. Dubai’s first success ahead of reaching a global deal is its Carbon Abatement Strategy. Dubai’s Carbon Abatement Strategy sets the course of actions to be adopted by Dubai Government in order to manage Dubai’s greenhouse gas emissions until 2021 compared to its business as usual scenario. The strategy allowed a comprehensive INDC submission and will keep doing so in the future. Furthermore, Dubai Carbon serves as the best body in Dubai to support a five years review and update of the INDCs.
Conference of Parties in Paris involved a huge number of countries, over 190. Usually, how feasible is it to reach on the same consensus for so many stakeholders?
Almost every nation on the planet sent a team of negotiators to Paris to seal a universal, international agreement on avoiding dangerous climate change, that has legal force. What is important to note is that the UN climate talks are structured so that the voices of the smallest countries are given equal weight to those of the largest. That is rather unusual in modern diplomacy, which is normally carried out in invite-only organizations like the G7 or G20. For any agreement to last, it’s crucial that it’s accepted by every country in the world, no matter
Adding to the complexity of managing such a large number of negotiating parties, the negotiation process is an arduous one because of the nature of the elements negotiated. All treaties containing a mixture of binding and non-binding elements, the semantics of the final text represents an essential element of the Paris outcome. Each word counting, negotiators took hours to reach an agreement on the use of a single word to be included or not in the text. For example, the ideal legal obligation has a ‘shall’ followed by precise action such as ‘shall reduce emissions’, as well as a deadline. Qualificatory language like ‘should’, ‘should strive to’, ‘as soon as practicable’, ‘as appropriate’ are some of the terms that make it less precise. In the final agreement, some of the language is legally binding within the UN framework. The regular review and submission of emission reduction targets will be binding as well as the US$100 billion fund from developed economies to help emerging and developing nations decarbonise their energy mix by moving away from burning fossil fuels to clean energy sources, such as renewables. What won’t be legally binding will be the emission targets. These will be determined by nations themselves.
Do we need a certain kind of mechanism to ensure a check on whether the participating countries are following the agreed consensus or not?
We do need a review mechanism to ensure countries progress on their pledges. Therefore, a review mechanism was negotiated to keep countries true to their emissions pledges every five years, with the first review planned for 2018, and every five years thereafter. Furthermore, the deal set out ‘flexible’ rules on reporting for those developing country parties that need it in the light of their capacities and a facilitative, non-intrusive, non-punitive system of review will track countries’ progress.
Therefore, each party shall regularly provide the following information: emission statistics and report on INDCs. Also, developed country parties shall provide information on financial, technology transfer and capacity-building support. Finally, the above information submitted by each party shall undergo a technical expert review which shall also assess the consistency with harmonised guidelines that shall be developed.
Member countries have agreed to reach a universal, legally binding agreement to reduce carbon emissions. How will it positively affect the planet earth?
Many agree that the big achievement of the Paris agreement is bringing tackling climate change back into the sphere of the possible. Furthermore, the Paris agreement represents a historic turning point that sets the planet on a transition away from fossil fuel. But the Paris conference is a starting point, not the finish line; therefore the real work starts now with the implementation of the vision set out at COP.
For example, the Paris agreement aims to help the world abandon fossil fuels this century and, specifically, stop global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and, if possible, below 1.5 degrees. But according to the UNFCCC’s own analysis, the pollution-reduction pledges made by countries ahead of the Paris talks would allow the atmosphere to warm 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100. Therefore, there is much work needed to ensure that countries are capable of aligning strategies and policies towards renewables and sustainable energies and well as making a turn to operationalise a green economy.
There is a long-term goal to reduce carbon emissions, limiting the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. According to you, how different countries, both developed and developing, can do so?
Dubai Carbon, as a green economy facilitator, is engaged in creating an economic model that is viable, while reducing environmental risks. The private sector is a key operator and a central player in this low-carbon economic model and therefore plays an important role both in developed and developing countries.
The Paris agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The 1.5 degree Celsius limit is a significantly safer defence line against the worst impacts of a changing climate. The Paris agreement also aims to strengthen the ability to deal with the impacts of climate change, often severely felt by developing countries. To reach these goals, one crucial element is appropriate financial flows to help make possible stronger action by developing countries and the most vulnerable.
How important is it for developed countries to finance the activities of poorer nations, aimed at maintaining climate equilibrium?
The Paris agreement places a legal obligation on developed countries to provide climate finance to developing countries to support their efforts to fight climate change. The deal describes the sum as a ‘floor’ and is set at $100 billion a year, beginning in 2020. The agreement is clear that developed countries must continue to support mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries. Furthermore, the role of the private sector in increasing the flow of financial support, already successfully approved by the Kyoto Protocol, has been further enhanced by the Paris agreement.
You have always emphasised upon the huge role of innovation and technology while pursuing the path of green economy and green technology. Can you please elaborate upon it on how these could help?
The Paris agreement’s long-term goal aims at net zero emissions by the end of the century. This goal sends a strong signal to investors, businesses, and policy-makers about the shift to a low carbon economy and provides the argument to drive the needed investments. The decarbonising of our economies will necessarily require continued investment and innovation, not only in renewable energy technologies but also in areas like green building, green transport and sustainable food. This paradigm shift will affect all areas of society.
The pathways to a low carbon world will require not only technological innovations but also new financial instruments, social innovations and new policy instruments. We have a great and motivating challenge in front of us and unity will be required to address it efficiently. We praise the international community’s efforts of cementing the role of private sector towards leading innovation and fighting climate change.