The United Arab Emirates government creation of an Energy & Climate Change Directorate
(ECC) within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) was selected as the best solution
to build the required capacity for managing UAE’s climate change and renewable energy
agenda. The establishment of the Directorate was an idea incepted by the UAE Minister
of Foreign Affairs; His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan – who believes
that the dialogue on Global Climate Change is one that the UAE can be heavily involved
in – highlighting the UAE’s efforts to mitigating the effects of climate change.
The mandate for this new directorate includes both an international and domestic
role. The international role entails ensuring international representation and negotiation
while the domestic role entails coordination with national stakeholders.
The international role encompasses:
Climate change negotiations and international positioning (including carbon finance
and the Clean Development Mechanism)
Monitoring, analysis and reporting on international climate change energy and developments,
especially with regards to alternative energy.
Commercial advocacy in key strategic locations
The interface with relevant international agencies and bodies namely UNFCCC, IRENA,
G20, G77,MEF and relevant NGOs. The strategic intentions of the Directorate in the
International arena includes:
Representation of the UAE in international forums and negotiations on alternative
energy and climate change matters such as:
International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
UNFCCC Conference of Parties meetings (UNFCCC)
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)
World Energy Council (WEC)
Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All)
Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)
Open Working Group of the Sustainable Development Goal (OWG-SDG)
The domestic role will cover:
Coordinating the development of domestic clean energy and climate change strategy
Engaging the UAE government federal and local stakeholders in policy development
Recommending domestic initiatives and follow-up on implementation impacts
The strategic intention of the Directorate in the domestic arena include:
Being the focal point for the development of a UAE clean energy and climate change
policy, and coordinate its implementation with the relevant federal and local stakeholders
in the UAE, to become a role model for effective policy development and program
execution in the region.
Higher sea levels:
Higher temperatures on the earth cause sea water to expand with heat and glaciers
to melt, raising the sea level year after year. Some low lying countries and many
small island states are very much at risk from these higher sea levels.
Water resources and natural disasters:
Global warming changes the balance of water supply and demand and could expand the
worldwide gap in water availability. Some places will be frequently flooded while
others will suffer from constant drought and water shortage. In areas that already
have a water shortage problem, the situation will worsen; many other areas will
face similar problems.
Global warming will seriously affect agriculture as well. Higher temperatures, increased
weeds and harmful insects will adversely affect some species of agricultural crops.
It is also possible that global warming will lead to global food shortages.
Climatic change affects human health in many different ways. As well as
direct impact from heat, warming increases the range of some disease carrying insects.
More erratic precipitation will also make waterborne diseases more dangerous.
Animals and plants:
Global warming will cause animals and plants to shift their habitats to northern
and mountainous areas. It is anticipated, however, that some will become extinct
if they cannot migrate due to topographical obstacles. It is predicted, for example,
that alpine flora growing near mountain summits will become extinct, and that many
beech forests will disappear and be replaced by oak forests, which are widely distributed
in warm regions. As a result, not only wild animals that live in or feed on these
trees, but also fruit cultivation and forestry will be seriously affected.
While winter heating energy consumption will be reduced due to global warming, it
will also increase the need for summertime air conditioning. In urban areas water
use and energy consumption for cooling will also largely increase. In low lying
coastal cities infrastructure will also have to be adapted to rising sea levels.
Climate change has risen rapidly in recent years as one of the most important challenges
faced by the global community. The impacts of climate change are already felt around
the world. The UAE is a low lying coastal country with an arid climate and which
already faces high temperatures. At the same time, we play a central role in the
world’s energy economy as a supplier of fossil fuels, which gives us an important
stake in finding solutions to cutting emissions while still providing the world
with the energy it needs. With investment in renewable energy and the role as the
host of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), we are at the heart of
the clean energy revolution. The UAE is engaged in the fight against climate change
both because we recognize the risks of not acting and because we are a responsible
global citizen committed to multilateral action. But we are also convinced that
in rising to this challenge there is a real opportunity. New clean energy technologies
will play a major role in economic growth in the next few decades. Together we can
build new industries, create knowledge-intensive jobs and create opportunities for
our young people, all in the service of the global good.
The UAE lacks many of the most widespread renewable energy resources, with no potential
for hydroelectric power or tidal power and relatively little biomass. However, we
are blessed with sunshine. Abu Dhabi has set a renewable energy target which it
expects to meet largely through solar power, and 2010 has seen work begin on one
of the world’s largest concentrating solar power plants. We are also developing
geothermal cooling at Masdar City.
Peaceful Nuclear Power:
The UAE views peaceful nuclear energy as a significant contributor to meet increasing
future electricity demand and as part of its strategy for the overall reduction
in carbon emissions. With its nearly zero carbon footprint and high availability
factor, it complements the UAE’s other renewable and low carbon energy sources,
such as solar and clean fossil fuel power plants. A sizeable nuclear energy sector
is being developed in the UAE which consists of four nuclear power reactors and
the associated infrastructure, the first of which is scheduled for commercial operation
Energy Efficiency and Conservation:
From new standards for appliances such as air conditioning, to the cutting edge
technologies being demonstrated in Masdar City, the UAE is putting efficiency at
the heart of its domestic energy strategy.
Transportation is one of the fastest-growing sources of emissions worldwide. We
are investing in new mass transit systems such as Dubai’s light rail system and
a proposed high speed train.
New energy efficiency standards for buildings are being set at a national level
for the UAE. In addition, the Urban Planning Council has developed the new Estidama
label for sustainable buildings, the first standard adapted for this region and
Carbon Capture and Storage (clean fossil fuels):
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a means of mitigating climate change by capturing
carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point sources such as power plants and storing it
safely underground instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. The potential impact
of CCS is huge. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says CCS could contribute
between 10% and 55% of the cumulative worldwide carbon mitigation effort over the
next 90 years. Technology for capturing of CO2 is already commercially available
for large CO2 emitters, such as power plants. Storage of CO2, on the other hand
is a relatively untried concept. The UAE is developing a major CCS project.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) was officially established in
Bonn on 26 January 2009. Following the deposit of the 25th instrument of ratification,
the IRENA statute entered into force on July 8, 2010 – this marks an historical
step for the growth of an international agency. To Date 148 states and the European
Union signed the Statute of the Agency; amongst them are 48 African, 38 European,
35 Asian, 17 American and 10 Australia/Oceania States. Mandated by these governments
worldwide, IRENA will promote the widespread and increased adoption and sustainable
use of all forms or renewable energy. Acting as the global voice for renewable energies,
IRENA will facilitate access to all relevant renewable energy information, including
technical data, economic data and renewable resource potential data. IRENA will
share experiences on best practices and lessons learned regarding policy frameworks,
capacity-building projects, available finance mechanisms and renewable energy related
energy efficiency measures.
Given the growing importance of climate policy in the UAE’s domestic and international
policy, and drawing on the lessons learned from the campaign to bring IRENA to the
UAE, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the United Arab Emirates, took the decision to establish a Directorate of Energy
and Climate Change within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. DECC was established
in March 2010 following a detailed review of experience creating similar institutions
in other countries. This Directorate has three main areas of responsibility, to
liaise with IRENA, to represent the UAE I international negotiations, and to support
a national climate change strategy.
Liaison with IRENA:
The Directorate is the main focal point for the UAE’s engagement with IRENA both
as its host country and as a member state. It actively participates at Council and
Assembly meetings and ensures the delivery on the UAE commitment to the Agency and
member states. DECC has engaged actively in designing effective statutes for the
legal status of IRENA, putting effective management in place and providing world-class
infrastructure to support its operation. In addition, the UAE is providing specific
support for IRENA activities through a wide range of channels. For instance, the
Masdar Institute provides scholarships for international students selected with
IRENA’s advice to study renewable energy topics. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development
has committed $350 million over seven years to support renewable energy projects
in developing countries with IRENA guidance. Looking forward, DECC is facilitating
UAE engagement in IRENA’s work programme. For instance, in linking IRENA to the
Clean Energy Ministerial initiative on solar and wind energy mapping, in which the
UAE has an active role. The commitment of the member states of expediting the ratification
is a clear indication of the importance of IRENA in deploying renewable energy technologies
to developing and developed nations alike.
International climate change affairs:
The DECC plays a major diplomatic role for the UAE in all international negotiations
on Climate Change, in particular within the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC) including the Kyoto Protocol. Most recently, the United
Arab Emirates played an important role in the successful outcome of the 16th Conference
of Parties of the UNFCCC in Cancun, Mexico. Furthermore, the Directorate provides
support to His Highness Sheikh Abdullah’s engagement with the UN Secretary General’s
Global Sustainability Panel, which was set up to consider longer term issues related
to sustainable development. DECC also leads for the UAE in a range of other forums,
including the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) process and the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate (IPCC).
DECC supports internal UAE processes by linking them to relevant international ones.
By engaging with international partners DECC helps bring global best practice to
the UAE, and raise international awareness of UAE initiatives and successes. The
UAE government has established a National Climate Change Committee (NCCC), chaired
by His Excellency Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, Minister of the Environment, to set
clear strategic direction for climate policy at a national level. DECC plays the
role of the secretariat to the NCCC.