In April, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), a United Nations body, released its latest ‘Status of the Global Climate’ report, which detailed the string of climate and weather records that were broken in 2015 worldwide. Given the upward trend we’ve seen in recent years, it’s unsurprising that 2015 shattered all previous records, including global temperature records, with exceptional rainfall, devastating droughts, unusual cyclone activity and intense heatwaves around the world.
“The year 2015 will stand out in the historical record of the global climate in many ways,” said WMO experts. These shocking statistics serve as a timely and critical reminder of the sheer scale of destruction climate change is having on our planet and the stark outlook for its future. It is imperative that action is taken now.
Finding solutions to these problems is not always clear, particularly when improving energy security and addressing climate change may seem to be two conflicting goals. Countries are challenged with achieving reliable and affordable energy supplies, while at the same time reducing emissions into the atmosphere.
In December 2015, a historic agreement to combat climate change was reached at COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. For the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, all 195 country members reached a universal agreement on climate change, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. As a member of the UNFCCC, the GCC has pledged to implement a number of green initiatives to drive the global green agenda which include; renewable energy initiatives, R&D in technology, water conservation and energy efficiency improvements.
More recently, in April this year, representatives of States from all around the world, visited New York to sign the original text of the Paris agreement on Climate Change which was first adopted at December’s Conference of the Parties (COP) 2015. Some 171 countries signed the landmark deal, which sets the ambitious goal of limiting warming to below 2 degrees Celsius; a record number for a new international treaty.
The participation of states this time around was truly overwhelming and proved the willingness of parties to commit to common processes which will in turn lead to the agreement at an international level. However, for the agreement to come into force, 55 states need to accept the agreement and those 55 ratifications need to come from States that represent 55% of total greenhouse gas emissions. This is also against the World Bank’s estimate that over the next 15 years, the global economy will require $89 trillion in infrastructure investments and $4.1 trillion in incremental investment for the low-carbon transition to keep within the new international sub-2 degrees Celsius goal.
Following the landmark Paris COP21 meetings, a further meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP22) with the UNFCCC will be held in Marrakech, Morocco, in November this year, at which many of the top decisions struck in the French capital will be fleshed out into action plans. This includes continued work on the determined commitments for reducing country carbon emissions and an even stronger emphasis on the action plans for regions, cities, businesses and the civil society, where the World Green Economy Summit 2016 will be a key contributing platform.
For two years now, Dubai has hosted the World Green Economy Summit (WGES) to continue its steady and forward march aiming to achieve its ambition to become “The Global Capital of the Green Economy”, facilitate a platform for green leaders to come together to discuss partnerships and develop cleaner and green initiatives to create a sustainable future. This year WGES 2016, under the new theme of ‘Driving the Global Green Economy’, will help the region follow up on commitments made through the Dubai Declaration and create strong links to the UN Climate Agreement 2015 and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 following the directions set at COP22 in Marrakech.
Dubai is taking major strides to drive the green economy, with a series of initiatives announced over the past 12 months. In November 2015, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, announced the launch of Dubai’s Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which sets a target for the provision of 7 per cent of Dubai’s energy from clean energy sources by 2020, increasing to 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050. To further the region’s green economy, DEWA announced in January 2016 that it has opened consultancy tenders for a Dh100 billion green fund – the Dubai Green Fund. As part of the region’s wider green energy investment programme, the “Dubai Green Fund” will provide financing for investors in Dubai’s clean energy, and affirms the Emirate’s commitment towards pioneering green initiatives and sustainability.
In addition to the Green Fund, Dubai’s Clean Energy Strategy 2050 will also see the planned capacity of Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park upgraded to 5,000 MW from 3,000 MW previously. The Solar Park, which is the largest single-site strategic renewable energy project of its kind in the world, is a testament to the region’s commitment to building and developing a greener economy, to achieve the UAE Vision 2021 of a truly sustainable environment with the lowest carbon footprint in the world.
We are very proud of the UAE’s achievements. We have accomplished significant success in photovoltaic energy. Energy, sustainability and new sources of power are all themes that are on the global agenda, as the world faces growing challenges with fluctuating oil prices. We have identified sustainability as a key theme in our upcoming Dubai Expo 2020 in recognising the undisputable fact that all economies have to focus on green strategies.
2016 is a pivotal year for Dubai and its continuation of green industry development. With the announcement of Dubai’s Clean Energy Strategy 2050, the initiatives related to water and energy management programmes will get additional momentum and really showcase the regions ability to have a green voice on a global level.
This year, Dubai’s World Green Economy Summit (WGES), will be the perfect platform for the region to showcase how far it’s come in just two years and shine a spotlight on exciting plans for the future.