Thursday 14, September 2017 by Georgina Enzer

Greening the Emirates

According to the Federal Water and Electricity Authority (Fewa), UAE residents use on average 550 litres of water per day, compared to the international average of 170 to 300 litres.

Tariffs have, in previous years, been heavily subsidised by the government. However in November 2016, Expatriates in Abu Dhabi saw their water bills increase by around 30 per cent. Dubai’s tariffs remained the same. The move by the Abu Dhabi Government was designed to boost environmental protection and sustainability, by removing some of the water and electricity subsidy and passing some of those costs on to residents. The government believes this should have a positive impact in raising awareness about water conservation, and in the end will reduce consumption of water in the Emirates.

According to a UN Development Programme report in 2003, the UAE emitted 33.6 tonnes per capita, second only to nearby Qatar and over nine times the world average of 3.7 tonnes. The 2015 UAE State of Energy Report, which was published by the government, reported that the UAE produced almost 20 tonnes of CO2 emissions per person in 2010, a hefty decrease from 2003, but still very high.

Since these reports came out, the UAE has tackled the problem head on – developing a number of initiatives to reduce this incredibly high figure, including increasing the cost of water - which could be a way to dissuade citizens from wasteful consumption of water - developing initiatives to reduce energy consumption across all Emirates, and setting in motion plans to move away from the heavy reliance on oil and gas to power the nation.

By 2030, the Government wants to have reduced energy use across the Emirates by 30 per cent and be able to generate at least 25 per cent of its power from sources including clean coal, nuclear power and solar. It also wants to eliminate waste sent to landfills within 20 years, and devise more sustainable methods of water generation. The Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 calls for energy demand to be slashed by 30 per cent per capita by 2030.

To achieve the ambitious targets Dubai’s Supreme Council of Energy has outlined programmes focusing on eight areas to manage energy demand. These include specifications and regulations for green construction, retrofitting existing buildings, district cooling, wastewater reuse, regulations to raise the standards and efficiency of devices and lighting, and working with private companies to retrofit 30,000 buildings in Dubai.

DEWA has also launched a company specialising in water and electricity consumption in buildings (Etihad ESCO), the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, and the Clean Coal project, and initiatives to raise awareness about an eco-friendly lifestyle and the importance of reducing carbon emissions.

The Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 calls for the energy mix to be diversified by 2030. Natural gas will provide 71 per cent of output while nuclear and clean coal will supply 12 per cent each. Solar energy will provide for five per cent of the emirate’s energy demand by 2030. 

The Government is also trying to reduce the number of cars on the road across the UAE, and subsequently reduce carbon emissions through a better public transport system. This is a work in progress and, combined with incentives for using public transport over private, more and more people will take to it.

The UAE has to manage its resources to survive and as a whole needs to practise carbon footprint management, and champion green corporate practises. Every Emirate is taking strides to make inroads into long term target of cutting down on power and water consumption.

Is the growing population supporting sustainability principles? Is the issue of food wastage being addressed adequately – in hotels, homes, school cafeterias? These are questions we the people and organisations in the UAE need to address to bring the UAEs carbon footprint down to more reasonable levels.



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