“Mission critical,” “the challenge of a lifetime,” “rapid and radical transformation of every sector of the global economy” — these are just some of the quotes associated with the topic “The Journey to Net Zero.”
The journey to net zero — the state in which greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere are balanced by removal out of the atmosphere — offers immense opportunity. It is a hugely important yet complex path that it is imperative the world collectively pursues in order to reduce global warming and tackle climate change.
Enlightened nations have set in motion the transition from carbon intensive to carbon net zero. The United Arab Emirates — the first country in the MENA region and first OPEC member to pursue a national drive to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 — is a leader amongst the coalition of nations that is committed to tackling climate change.
As part of the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, the 50-year-old nation has pledged to invest AED600 billion ($163 billion) in “clean and renewable” energy by 2050 — around AED21 billion ($6 billion) a year. Various other initiatives, such as controlling emissions, cultivation technologies and reducing flaring of natural gas, will also encompass the net zero goal. This, after all, is a nation that has a history of direct climate action going back to 1989 and the ratification of the Vienna Convention.
COP28, to be hosted by the UAE in 2023, will be the next step on that journey and an important pillar for 2050 — representing an unprecedented opportunity to highlight the economic potential of climate action.
The Masdar global powerhouse — consolidating the combined efforts in renewable energy and green hydrogen of TAQA, Mubadala and ADNOC under the Masdar brand — has been created to spearhead the drive to net-zero carbon by 2050. The bolstered Masdar entity will be one of the largest clean energy companies of its kind and is immensely well positioned to lead the industry on a global scale, placing the UAE at the forefront of the energy transition.
But that is far from all. The UAE is also home to three of the largest and lowest-cost solar plants in the world, and is the first country in the region to deploy industrial scale carbon capture technology. In addition, the nation is also the first to deploy zero emission nuclear energy, while proving to be a pioneer in new zero carbon energies such as hydrogen.
These all align with the UAE’s development vision for the next 50 years to create new knowledge, new industries, new skills and new jobs. The UAE — a place of innovation and business — is leveraging the path to a lower carbon economy to safeguard the environment, drive down emissions and create lasting economic opportunity. The energy transition offers fertile ground for investors — a ground where climate-relevant solutions, products and services shall escalate.
The journey to net zero will not be easy, but it is a journey that must be undertaken and one that very much offers immense opportunity on the way.
Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week took place in-person and online between Jan. 15-19, 2022. To learn more about the week, visit www.adsw.ae.