ABU DHABI 1st, May 2023, (WAM). The UAE continues to lead the way in combating climate change. Through various institutions, it has implemented initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emission, increase investment in clean energy and launch various projects in renewable energy.
The Emirates News Agency (WAM), in this report, will highlight the efforts and initiatives of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) for reducing emissions. The agency has adopted a number of technologies to reduce the carbon footprint created by industrial production, the economy in general, and is now moving towards renewable or low-carbon sources.
In the transportation sector, technological solutions include increasing the use of hydrogen and non-traditional fuels, like electric vehicles. Solutions can be found by examining the usage and production of water and electricity. This includes increasing the use of renewable energy and reducing waste.
In terms of technologies to capture and absorb residual emissions, the agency has been developing natural solutions by planting trees and expanding green spaces, including Mangroves, and using modern techniques for capturing carbon underground. These include the Riyada Project which is an innovative project that collects carbon dioxide gas for use in underground oil wells.
Researchers and developers are researching and developing new technologies, including those that use natural materials mixed with beach sand in order to interact with ocean wave action, resulting in the storage and capture of carbon. These technologies are limited in their ability to address remaining emissions. It is therefore important to first work to reduce emissions before looking for solutions to absorb them.
The authority works with eight universities that specialize in academic research and other institutions from around the world. In this year’s plan, the authority will develop a strategy to support current research and to identify needs and priorities to fill in research gaps. The plan will also promote national capabilities and capacity building and encourage cooperation with national and foreign institutions in order to connect the system of research and ensure its future integration.
The authority created the Abu Dhabi Environmental Research Network to improve scientific research on environmental problems that affect Abu Dhabi. This network aims to create a multidisciplinary community working together in order to increase scientific knowledge of the environment and other issues within the emirate.
The network’s goal is to facilitate expertise exchange, adopt best practices, create partnerships, and collaborate on projects. The network also invites scientists, environmental experts and specialists to collaborate to fill knowledge gaps using the most advanced scientific tools and technologies.
The UAE and Abu Dhabi, on the other hand have set a roadmap with a goal of reaching net-zero emission by 2050. They are the first countries in the region to do so. In partnership with the private industry, the relevant entities in the emirate have also developed plans to reduce emissions. The emirate is working on encouraging community participation by implementing awareness and empowerment programs.
According to the authority, achieving zero emissions of carbon means that all carbon emissions from human activity must equal zero. The atmosphere must not be filled with greenhouse gases. Achieving net-zero emission means reducing the emissions to their lowest level, and then balancing the remaining emissions by using natural carbon removal methods, such a planting trees which absorb carbon such as Mangroves, or industrial carbon removal methods, such a capturing the carbon at the source, reusing and storing it or directly extracting the carbon from the air.
The agency states that several measures are needed to achieve net-zero emission, including initiatives to reduce emissions from the main sectors. There are several measures that can be taken to reduce the reliance of electricity production on fossil fuels and increase the reliance of renewable energy. These include projects such as Shams Abu Dhabi or the Al Dhafra PV2 Solar Power Plant.
The use of technologies that reduce emissions in industrial processes such as the Riyada Project, a joint venture between Emirates Steel Arkan (ESA) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, and low-carbon transport to encourage adoption of electric and low-emission cars, while reducing the emissions generated by oil and gas through various initiatives. This includes the transition to peaceful nuclear sources of energy to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by ADNOC operations. There are also ways to reduce emissions in sectors that have less impact, like agriculture and waste. In the area of carbon abatement, many measures can be taken based on natural solutions. For example, planting trees, or using carbon injection technologies subsurface.
The technology plays a key role in reaching net-zero emissions or carbon neutrality. Renewable energy technologies can be used to replace fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions in certain sectors. EVs are also able to help reduce emissions in the transportation sector. Advanced industrial and sustainable construction technologies can also reduce emissions from the building and industrial sectors. Technology can also enable carbon removal and negative emissions by various means such as carbon storage and capture.
The technology can be used to monitor, reduce, track, and report emissions. This is crucial for measuring the effectiveness measures taken to achieve net zero emissions.
Technology can help accelerate the transition towards a low carbon economy in general by providing solutions for reducing emissions, facilitating removal of carbon and monitoring progress. To drive this change, technology use must be accompanied with appropriate policies and regulations.
Abu Dhabi, as part of its commitment towards the sustainability vision of UAE government, is leading a project group aimed at reducing climate change’s impact. The emirate made significant efforts in order to draft a strategy that would help achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
Abu Dhabi’s climate strategy is centered on leadership in climate action, which includes promoting resilience, reducing emission and adopting low-carbon innovative solutions to reach its emission reduction goals.
In 2013, the authority, in collaboration with partners such as the United Nations Environment Programme, launched the Abu Dhabi Blue Carbon Demonstration Project. The project enabled the study of mangroves’ importance and their role as a tool to combat climate change by sequestering carbon. The project also confirmed the importance of blue-carbon habitats and ecologies in Abu Dhabi, such as Mangrove, seagrasses salt marshes algal mats coastal carbonates.
The study found that the Mangrove trees of Abu Dhabi contained 98 tonnes per hectare of carbon, which is equivalent to 1.7 millions tonnes on a total of 17,500 ha of Mangrove. Later, the project was expanded to include other emirates to measure Mangrove’s carbon storage capacity.
The “Trial Assessment of Mangrove Soil Carbon Sequestration in the United Arab Emirates” was conducted in 2020 to assess carbon sequestration in soil of Mangrove trees forests in the UAE. The results showed that Mangrove trees store carbon at a rate equivalent to 0.5 tonnes per ha annually. This is equivalent to 8,750 tons for a 17,500 hectare area of Mangroves located in Abu Dhabi.
During COP26 the UAE announced a plan to plant 100,000,000 Mangroves by 2030. Abu Dhabi revealed ambitious plans to launch the “Mangrove Initiative” in February 2022, which will make the emirate a centre of innovation and research in conservation.
The initiative is aimed at providing a platform to develop innovative solutions for Mangrove trees cultivation that will help mitigate climate change. It also aims to raise awareness about their importance and their need for restoration.
The agency and the Department of Energy are collaborating to improve Abu Dhabi’s energy mix, and reduce carbon emissions. They will do this by developing new regulatory frameworks that require a large proportion of Abu Dhabi’s electricity by 2035 to be generated from clean and renewable resources. This is an important step in realising UAE’s goal of carbon neutrality in 2050.