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UAE may revise climate strategy after subpar ranking

UAE Minister for Climate and the Environment Mariam Almheiri Reuters
The UAE minister for climate and the environment, Mariam Almheiri says the country is 'striving for more' after its disappointing rating
  • UAE’s efforts labelled ‘insufficient’
  • Country is ‘striving for more’
  • Net zero target of 2050

The UAE is keen to update its strategy on climate change after an independent research group ranked it “insufficient”, the Gulf state’s climate change and environment minister Mariam Almheiri has said. 

“Going from highly insufficient to insufficient was, let’s say, a step in the right direction, but we’re still striving for more,” Almheiri told reporters, according to Reuters.  

The UAE was the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to pledge net zero by 2050, in 2021.

It plans to do this through measures including reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 19 percent by 2030, trebling its renewable energy capacity to 14.2 gigawatts, and investing $54 billion in the sector over the next seven years.  

The UAE wants clean energy to account for 30 percent of its total energy mix by 2031, and this summer it published a National Hydrogen Strategy to develop the fast-growing sector. 

However, as found by AGBI in our exclusive special report this month on the Gulf’s path to net zero, the independent Climate Action Tracker research group said in its latest study in July that the UAE’s efforts are “insufficient” against its simultaneous goal to increase oil production.  

Climate Action Tracker is a collaboration between the think tanks Climate Analytics and NewClimate Institute. It evaluates the climate change mitigation targets, policies and action of 39 countries, plus the European Union member states, together covering around 85 percent of global emissions. 

Adjusting NDCs

Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are climate action plans submitted to the United Nations by each nation that signed the Paris Agreement of 2015, pledging to keep global warming to a maximum 1.5C above pre-industrialisation levels. 

The report found that the UAE’s policies will lead to it missing its new NDC “by a large margin”.

Countries are required to update the policies every five years. The UAE submitted its last update in 2020, but has since strengthened some of its policies in the run-up to the Cop28 climate change summit, which it is hosting later this month. 

“Who knows, probably next year, we might be announcing another NDC,” Reuters quoted Almheiri as saying. 

She said: “Don’t forget, we are in a desert. And when you think of the high temperatures we get exposed to, living and adapting to the environment we’re in is also not easy.

“And actually, to be honest with you, the big players are feeling the heat. For them, they want to push this agenda as much as possible.”

Abu Dhabi state oil company, Adnoc, for example, has brought its own company net zero goal forward to 2045, from 2050

The UAE ranks 63rd out of 120 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2023 report. It is the best-performing GCC country for greenhouse gas emissions growth rate in the 2022 Environmental Performance Index, published by Yale and Columbia universities.

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