ABU DHABI // The country is working on a system to monitor and record its greenhouse gas emissions, says the new director general of the Global Green Growth Institute.
Frank Rijsberman, who was on a two-day visit to the UAE for the World Future Energy Summit, said that although there was room for improvement, the UAE had become a leader in the renewable energy sector.
“We’ve been rapidly expanding our roots and we now have 25 country programmes, with the UAE one of our oldest,” he said.
“And while we were initially working on supporting the Government with green growth, we are getting close to the next stage, which is realising bankable projects that help governments to finance their visions, particularly green cities.”
The institute is working with the UAE to develop its climate change plan, which is about to be approved.
The country is also interested in implementing the Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system – a database for greenhouse gas emissions used to show reductions under the Paris Agreement.
“If you do a project in greenhouse gas emissions and you get credit as part of your national commitment to the Paris Agreement, you need to document it and compare it to the baseline,” said Mr Rijsberman, who is from The Netherlands.
“That requires a pretty complex greenhouse gas emissions inventory, estimates and stringent rules according to international standards.
“Quite a few countries who don’t have that find it pretty complex to build it. It was built by the South Korean government and we are sharing the expertise.”
Many countries have been adopting the system, which will take several years to become fully operational in the UAE.
The country is also contributing to developing green strategies. Last year, it invested US$400,000 (Dh1.4million) in Morocco and $600,000 across the Middle East.
It also gives $2.5m to the institute in Seoul each year, $1.1m of which is reinvested at home.
“It is sponsoring work in Morocco and Jordan this year and we’re exploring a new proposal to work on food security,” Mr Rijsberman said.
“We’re looking into a partnership between our members in the region, like the UAE and Qatar, with three African countries, including Ethiopia, Senegal and Rwanda, to make agriculture more climate-resilient.”
He said the UAE had become a leader in renewable energy and in “making this shift from a fossil fuel based economy to realising the future is elsewhere”.
“There is still a lot of scope in energy efficiency, in electrical public transport system and in highly efficient buildings, to advance the energy supply and demand with many members, including the UAE,” Mr Rijsberman said.
“The mood is that it’s become both much smarter for governments and huge business opportunities to invest in renewable energy, particularly in solar.”
Last year, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said he was proud to see the UAE ready to capitalise on international opportunities.
“Renewables is my area,” he said at the time. “In the past six years we committed more than $840m to renewable energy in more than 30 countries.”
The UAE ratified the Cop21 agreement at the United Nations last September, committing to the Paris Agreement, which is aimed at reducing global warming to less than 2°C.
Dr Al Zeyoudi said then that the agreement was the world’s first durable response to climate change that allows each country to contribute climate actions in accordance with their own economic priorities.
“For the UAE, this means solutions that create new social and economic opportunities and support our ambitious agenda towards economic diversification.”