UAE is helping pave the path for a greener future: HE Suhail Al-Mazrouei
NOCs, IOCs, NECs and IECs
As the UAE ramps up its preparations to host the COP28 UN climate conference later this year, the country has embraced the responsibility of leading urgent and collective action to address the existential threat of climate change.
Against the backdrop of global concerns around energy security, COP28 is critically important to address topics at the intersection of climate change and energy insecurity and help shape a sustainable and prosperous future.
While the UAE is renowned for its rapid and ambitious economic growth, less known but equally important are its track record and leadership in transforming the energy industry and contributing to the global transition to net-zero. Supporting the country’s stated goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050, concrete evidence of the UAE’s commitment to building a greener, more sustainable future through the development of and investment in low-carbon energy sources, technologies, and industries is abundant.
More than two decades ago, our leadership saw the writing on the wall and understood it was time to embark on a robust energy transition. In 2006, the government established Masdar, the Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy company, which has since contributed to landmark solar and wind projects at home and abroad. Today, it is on track to become one of the world’s largest renewable energy companies by 2030.
To help us reach net-zero by 2050, we updated the UAE Energy Strategy 2050. In the new plan, we increased the share of clean fuels in our energy mix and enhanced energy efficiency in key energy-intensive sectors, such as transport, buildings, and industry.
We are proud to note that today, the UAE is home to the world’s three largest and lowest-cost single-site solar plants and the first Arab country to operate zero-carbon nuclear power that will supply 25 percent of the nation’s electricity demand by 2024.
As a result, the UAE has achieved remarkable success in reducing its emissions, ranking among the lowest emitters globally.
Furthermore, it has made significant progress in the Energy Transition pillar of the Green Future Index 2023, impressively climbing eight positions from the previous year to securing second place. This recognition is a testament to the UAE leadership’s dedication to transforming the country’s energy sector and embracing clean and renewable sources. The nation continues to serve as a role model for other countries, demonstrating that economic growth and environmental sustainability can go hand in hand.
In recognition of the importance of hydrogen in the global push for decarbonisation, we are developing the National Hydrogen Strategy as a pivotal step toward meeting the increasing demand for low-carbon hydrogen domestically and potentially internationally. This comprehensive strategy targets vital sectors such as aviation, maritime, steel, aluminium, cement, power, refining, and heavy-duty transportation, which are challenging to decarbonise.
Currently, the UAE has several hydrogen projects in the pipeline, leveraging partnerships to unlock the full potential of hydrogen as a crucial enabler of achieving our net-zero goals. This strategic approach not only supports sustainable development but also positions the UAE at the forefront of the hydrogen revolution.
Recent years have also seen the UAE emerge as a prime convener of world leaders, innovators, and policymakers from the energy sector with events such as Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and ADIPEC. This year, the latter is building on a nearly four-decade legacy of assembling public sector representatives, leaders in energy and technology, the financial community, and private enterprise stakeholders from a wide spectrum of industries and sectors, as well as future talent, with the aim of advancing the world’s decarbonisation goals.
ADIPEC will frame diverse conversations that complement the UAE’s goal of delivering a COP of collaborative action while driving investment into the clean energies of the future. In the context of the international community’s ongoing geopolitical dynamics and the urgent need to provide tangible, collective solutions to the issue of energy security, ADIPEC will address themes such as hydrogen, mobilising finance and investment, and the development of a zero-carbon value chain. As a platform for promoting decarbonisation efforts and raising the UAE’s international profile as a leader in the field, the challenges that ADIPEC will address are relevant not only for its host nation but for the region and the world at large.
Some of the solutions to the challenges of decarbonisation include developing a specialised workforce, enabling robust investment in research and development, and sharing knowledge and technologies. In support of this, the UAE has prioritised research and development, as well as education and youth empowerment, as evidenced by programs like the Abu Dhabi Knowledge and Education Council-sponsored Young ADIPEC program for youth engagement in the energy sector. The nation has also endeavoured to make manufacturing, transportation, and industrial processes more energy-efficient through new, high-efficiency standards, innovative practices, and smart technologies.
While a comprehensive shift to renewable and sustainable energy is hardly straightforward, the UAE has proven that it can be a key player in paving the way for a greener future while safeguarding the world’s desired trajectory for progress and economic prosperity.
The country’s vision, strategies, and initiatives in clean energy solutions clearly demonstrate its recognition of the urgency of addressing climate change, as well as a sincere commitment to the global effort to tackle it. At the root of it all is the belief that decarbonisation can bolster economic growth, strengthen energy independence and improve people’s quality of life. The UAE stands ready and proud to help shape a more sustainable world for future generations while fostering an environment that enables the delivery of a COP of action, and a COP for all.
• His Excellency Suhail bin Mohammed Al-Mazrouei is the UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure.