According to the Green Fuel Index Report released by the Australian based aggregator Compare the Market, the nation that has seen its use of renewable energy increase the most in the last decade is the United Arab Emirates (UAE).where renewable capacity has grown by almost 20,000% over the last decade. The report states that the UAE’s renewable energy capacity swelled from a mere 13 MW in 2011 to a huge 2,540 MW at the end of 2020 which shows the success of the policy initiatives of the UAE Government to achieve carbon neutrality.

The UAE — where renewable capacity has grown by almost 20,000 per cent over the last decade – has traditionally relied on its plentiful supplies of oil but has recently made a big effort to shift away from fossil fuels” the report said. The UAE is thus establishing itself as one of the global pioneers in the use of clean and renewable energy.

An important initiative by the UAE in this aspect is the Net Zero 2050 Strategic Initiative, a national drive to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, making the Emirates the first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) nation to do so. The initiative announced in October 2021 calls for Dh600 billion ($163bn) to be invested in clean and renewable energy sources in the next three decades. The UAE Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative aligns with the Paris Agreement, which calls on countries to prepare long-term strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 C compared to pre-industrial levels.

The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) will lead and coordinate efforts to execute the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative and ensure collaboration at national level to fulfil this objective. Stakeholders in key sectors, such as energy, economy, industry, infrastructure, transport, waste, agriculture, and the environment, will update relevant plans, strategies, and policies, and implement initiatives and projects to achieve net zero by 2050 in line with their needs and growth requirements. The implementation of the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative also entails close cooperation with civil society, foreign governments, and international organizations, including the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is headquartered in the UAE and currently engaged with 184 countries.

At the launch of the initiative, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the current President of the UAE and at that time the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces remarked, “With our announcement today of our plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the UAE continues our effective role in climate control issues, adding our support to international efforts to mitigate climate change with a range of effective community and economic initiatives. In achieving climate neutrality in the UAE by 2050, we aim to develop an approach that both drives sustainable economic growth and is an exemplar of working together to achieve a better future for humanity.”
The Net Zero 2050 Initiative is a follow up to the Energy Strategy 2050 programme introduced in 2017. This is considered the first unified energy strategy in the country that is based on supply and demand. The strategy aims to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25 per cent to 50 per cent by 2050 and reduce carbon footprint of power generation by 70 percent, thus saving AED 700 billion by 2050.

It also seeks to increase consumption efficiency of individuals and corporates by 40 per cent. The strategy is aiming for an energy mix of 44 per cent clean energy, 38 per cent gas, 12 per cent clean coal and 6 per cent nuclear to meet the UAE’s economic requirements and environmental goals.

The deployment and use of clean energy solutions is one of the main pillars of the UAE’s model of addressing the challenge of climate change and reducing GHG emissions. The country began financing clean energy projects more than 15 years ago, and has invested over US$40 billion in the sector to date. Current trends predict the production capacity of clean energy, including solar and nuclear, to reach 14 GW by 2030, up from about 100 MW in 2015 and 2.4 GW in 2020.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava

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