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UAE ‘at forefront’ of global climate fight after new $50bn pledge

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UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

The UAE is now at the forefront of the global fight against climate change after President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan pledged an extra $50 billion investment over the next decade.

That’s the view of Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, the country’s Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, following the UAE President’s commitment announced on Friday at the Leaders Meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF) on energy and climate.

“Due to the future-oriented vision of its wise leadership, the UAE has joined the ranks of countries at the forefront of the fight against climate change. We have issued environmental protection laws and strategies and rolled out relevant initiatives. We have also adopted a proactive approach to promoting clean energy solutions as the sustainable, alternative energy sources of tomorrow,” said Almheiri.

She added that the UAE has introduced multiple roadmaps that “reaffirm its keenness to build a sustainable future for the next generations”.

In comments published by state news agency WAM on Saturday, Almheiri said these include the UAE Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap that seeks to position the country as a top producer and exporter of green and blue hydrogen in the pursuit of net zero, and the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, the first of its kind in the MENA region.

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Standard Chartered has estimated that the UAE alone will require $681 billion in investment to finance its transition to a net-zero economy.

“Today, as we gear up to host the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) next year, we remain determined to enhance environmental protection, advance government agendas, and boost the participation of the private sector through driving innovation and developing cutting-edge climate-smart technologies in the agriculture and food sectors to conserve natural resources.”

At the MEF meeting hosted by US President Joe Biden, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed joined heads of state from 17 major economies – accounting for 80 percent of global GDP, population and greenhouse gas emissions.

In an address, he acknowledged that climate change is an issue of “grave importance” that must be addressed through collective cooperation.

He said that the UAE is doubling down on efforts to address climate change and accelerate the global energy transition, highlighting the UAE’s investment of more than $50 billion in renewable energy projects across 40 countries, and adding that the country plans to invest an additional $50 billion over the next decade.

Standard Chartered has estimated that the UAE alone will require $681 billion in investment to finance its transition to a net-zero economy.

Biden also urged leaders to maintain climate action as a top priority on the global agenda, against the backdrop of geopolitical instability and its repercussions on energy and food security.

Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, said the UAE will leverage its convening power to deliver an inclusive and consultative COP28 that “raises ambition for climate action and implements practical solutions that deliver climate progress while accelerating economic and social development”.

The Gulf has embraced the battle against climate change. Last year, Saudi Arabia launched the Saudi Green Initiative, which is a comprehensive strategy to green the desert, reduce temperatures and make the country’s cities more sustainable for the population. The UAE and Bahrain have declared net zero targets, and Qatar is planning the first carbon neutral World Cup later this year.

Separately, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, has issued the licence for Unit 3 of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant to Nawah Energy Company (Nawah).

The licence, with an estimated duration of 60 years, authorises Nawah to commission and operate the third of four reactors at Barakah.

In February 2020 and March 2021, FANR issued the licences for Unit 1 and Unit 2, respectively. The Barakah Nuclear Power Plant project’s overall construction rate is 97 percent. Units 1 and 2 are commercially operational while unit 3 is in the commissioning phase and unit 4 is 92 percent complete.